Tapping Our Trans-Local Potential for Change

Posts tagged ‘education’

An Evening of Storytelling: The Education for Development Dialogue

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

The Engaging Diasporas in Development Project held its third dialogue, Education for Development, on May 18th, 2011. Ten impassioned storytellers recounted a mosaic of personal anecdotes that served to explore three central questions: (1) what kind of education is needed for development? (2) How do educational projects create opportunities and choices? And (3) what is unique and inspiring about diaspora-led educational strategies for development?

The evening commenced with a warm welcome and introduction to the project from co-directors Shaheen Nanji and Dr. Joanna Ashworth. Invoking the words of the influential Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, Dr. Ashworth spoke of education as a dialogue between people, based on the facts of their lives, which should not be confused or contorted into a banking system that “makes deposits of knowledge into others.” She also stated that, education is “an act of freedom” and that, for the purposes of the evening, ‘development’ should simply be understood as “the process of change, from one state to another.”

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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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Joselyne’s Story

This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant with additional content from Joselyne Niyizigama John, President and Founder of the Dzaleka Project.

What does education mean to you? For Joselyne Niyizigama John, a fourth year Health Sciences student at Simon Fraser University, education means one essential thing: freedom. A native of Burundi in East Central Africa, Joselyne was forced to flee from her home at the same age that most children enter the first grade. She and her family of twelve would spend the next fourteen years in refugee camps, first in Tanzania and then Malawi, while a civil war raged in Burundi.

“When you are in the camps, all you can think about is how you can’t go anywhere”, she explains. Despite working hard to complete her primary and secondary schooling while in the refugee camps, Joselyne grew up knowing that her prospects for further education were limited if she were to remain in the camp.

“Refugees living in the camps have three options”, she says, “they can live in the camp and forget about exploring other parts of the country; they can go back to their country of origin; or they can be sponsored by a community or a country that is willing to commit to making a difference in their lives.”

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A is for Apple: Maintaining Relevance and Solidarity in Education

This post was written by Nadia Chaney, a Dialogue Associate at the Simon Fraser University Wosk Centre for Dialogue and a social artist who empowers community voice through radical dialogue.

Education is a meaning-making venture. The content of a curriculum is always important, and, it is always housed in its own context. When context changes, meaning changes. So what happens to the meaning making operation of education when it crosses borders? I am interested in the complex relationships and nuanced interrogations of the question of identity that arise in particular as education moves across borders in the bodies of diasporic people. Of both historical and current importance, this question of identity in education confronts diasporic people here and around the planet. My own interest in this question comes from being a first generation Canadian with multi-faceted Indian roots and working as an educator in Bangalore, India. My arts-based empowerment work with PYEGlobal.org has been brewing on the Pacific Northwest Coast for 9 years. In 2009, when PYE partnered with Dream a Dream (.org) in Bangalore, I had an opportunity to explore some of these questions for myself.

The English word “education” comes from a Latin root, ducere, which means to draw out, or to lead forward. From a certain perspective, education can seem like a necessity, almost as important as food, water or family. It can offer access to work, security, and even personal fulfillment. In relation to this perspective and to what education offers, the context of leading and following is important to note: it raises certain questions about relevance and responsibility.

Images and metaphors come with and are embedded in curriculum and methodologies that are “exported” across borders. It is thus important to think about the assumptions that accompany these exported curriculums and how they affect the relevance and effectiveness of educational work in development.

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The Power of $100

Photo: Doug Olthof.

This post was written by Miriam Egwalu, a member of the Ugandan diaspora in Vancouver.

My story started when I went to Uganda in March, 2009 after my Mom passed away. During the burial and afterwards, I noticed that there were more women than men. Most of the women were either very old or very young single mothers. The men were also very old or very young. I later realized that most of the men had been killed in the 25 year war that had ravished Northern Uganda and that the others had moved to towns and cities to try and find work, leaving behind wives to take care of the kids and grandparents.

When I interviewed one of the older ladies, she informed me that most of the women get no support from their husbands who have moved to cities and some are widowed with numerous children to support. She was one of the widowed. She was left with 6 kids to take care of. Her oldest daughter was not going to school because she needed her to help in the garden and other chores. The other 5 kids were being supported by a charity organization in order for them to go to school.

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What is Poverty?

A farmer in West Bengal returns from ploughing the fields. Photo: Douglas Olthof.

This post was written by John Harriss, Director of International Studies at Simon Fraser University.

I can well imagine many readers reacting to this question along the lines of ‘What a silly question. Isn’t it obvious?’ Well, yes, it is, at least on one level. ‘Being poor’ surely means ‘not having enough’, or ‘being deprived’? But not having enough of, or being deprived of what? The obvious answer to this question is probably ‘Not enough money’. But then that only raises the question of ‘Not enough money for what?’ ‘Not enough money’ for some people, clearly, might be a fortune for others. This is particularly obvious when we think across societies. Poverty in our own society might still mean having all sorts of things, like television sets, fridges and motor cars that a poor woman in Lesotho, say, probably can’t even dream of. So answering the question ‘what is poverty?’ really is a bit more complicated than we might think at first.

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