Tapping Our Trans-Local Potential for Change

Posts tagged ‘diaspora’

Lessons in Diaspora Approaches to Development from a Collaborative Learning Workshop

Workshop participants share insights with each other in a discussion circle. Photo: Jean Bruno Nkondi.

This post was written by Joanna Ashworth, Researcher in the Centre for Sustainable Community Development and Co-Director of Engaging Diaspora in Development.

We just finished a five-month workshop series with 25 diaspora leaders. Here is a glimpse into what we learned together.

1. Take time to grow a learning community

One day a month for five months we gathered with SFU’s project directors, advisors and 25 diaspora leaders in a workshop series. This gave us the chance to network with fellow diaspora involved in similar development work. We learned so much from hearing about the work people are doing and about how we might collaborate with them. We also wanted to gain more skills and knowledge on how to develop our projects. There was good chemistry between people—we all feel like family now.

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Diaspora Speak Up about Human Insecurity and Peacebuilding

This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant.

A brightly coloured historical timeline marked the entryway to the July 13th dialogue on Human Insecurity and Peacebuilding. Listing major armed conflicts that have occurred since the 1950’s, the timeline offered a way in to the discussion as people were invited to respond to the question, “How have these conflicts impacted you?”

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A Backgrounder on Human Insecurity and Peacebuilding: Diaspora Perspectives and Roles

This post was written by James Busumtwi-Sam, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University and Member of the Project Management Team and Project Advisory Committee.

Achieving ‘security’ means different things to different people but in general it involves protecting certain core values (human life, livelihoods, property, etc.) from harm. The notion of ‘human security’ attempts to redefine the traditional approach to security in international affairs from a preoccupation with state/national security to include the security of individuals and groups. The term ‘peacebuilding’ includes a wide range of activities undertaken to transform a hitherto insecure and conflictual situation/relationship, prevent violence, and achieve accommodation or reconciliation between individuals and groups at the community, regional and national levels.

That there is a relationship between ‘development’ (or the lack thereof) and ‘insecurity’ is by now well established. Twenty-five of the world’s 35 poorest countries have experienced a major armed conflict in the last three decades. Since the early 1990s policymakers, practitioners, and scholars have attempted to develop a formula to build and sustain peace, and enhance human security in the aftermath of armed conflict. UN agencies and the major bilateral and multilateral aid donors adopted a formula that generally entailed internationally supported efforts to monitor and enforce peace agreements; provide humanitarian relief, rehabilitate and resettle affected populations; and disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate ex-combatants. The strategy also included broader political and socioeconomic reforms designed to promote a particular type of development centred on democratic governance and a market economy.

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Holding the Mirror: On Writing “The Dry Season” through the Diasporic Lens

This post was written by Juliane Okot Bitek, storyteller and author of upcoming book “The Dry Season”. “The Dry Season” is a non-fiction book based on the experience of three women who were kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerrilla group that terrorized northern Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1987. All photos by Lara Rosenoff.

The pull to return and belong; to change and yet remain the authentic self, is what most distinguishes us, the people of the diaspora, from those who refer to themselves as native born. In that tension is the quality that we of the diaspora have an uncanny recognition for; within ourselves and others who struggle with it. It is also a place of empowerment and agency, where we can claim both sides of the divide while maintaining a Janus perspective. For me, as one who holds the mirror and is the image in the mirror, this is the place from which I recognize the women survivors of the Lord’s Resistance Army. These women, all kidnapped as girls and trained as rebel fighters become adults, all the while maintaining what little childhood memory they have. They are my sisters, cousins, daughters, friends, neighbours — these are my kinfolk, the women from my homeland. They are me and I am them.

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The Dialogue Series: What have we learned so far?

This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant.

As we gear up for our fourth in a series of five public dialogues, we wanted to take a look back at some of the things we’ve learned so far through the Engaging Diaspora for Development Project. A guiding theme for us, which has both come out of and reinforced the importance of public dialogue, has been the power of personal narrative in evoking change. The following are some of the lessons we’ve learned through your stories.

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Public Dialogue: Educational Strategies for Development Through the Eyes of the Diaspora

This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant.

This Wednesday, SFU’s public engagement series “Engaging Diaspora in Development” presents its latest public dialogue. This event is called “Education for Development”, and the program is shaping up to be a lively evening, showcasing the many ways diaspora-led efforts support education as an engine for change and development in the Global South.

Hearing from members of the diaspora—that is people and communities that have retained an attachment to their homeland or region through family history or culture—will serve to explore how local efforts here in Metro Vancouver are supporting local efforts in the Global South.

As Shaheen Nanji, SFU’s project co-director puts it, “The people leading these educational initiatives are Canadians – perhaps first, second or third generation—who are living and working here in Metro Vancouver. They are using their knowledge of the “local” scene worlds away and are driven by their passion to help improve the lives of others in the Global South.”

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