Tapping Our Trans-Local Potential for Change

Posts tagged ‘Vancouver’

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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Canada as the Platform: Bridging the Dialogue on Peace

Peace it Together Filmmaking Summer Program 2008.

This post was written by Rosamelia Andrade, Project Research Assistant, with additional content from Reena Lazar, Executive Director of Peace it Together.

When it comes to stimulating dialogue, increasing understanding and building peace amongst individuals who are traditionally considered as “enemies”, filmmaking has tremendous potential. The Vancouver-based organization Peace it Together strongly believes that filmmaking is a creative way to engage, negotiate and reach consensus while working towards a common goal. The mission of the organization is to empower youth to promote peace through dialogue, filmmaking and multimedia.

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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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Vancouver’s diasporas promote development around the world

This post was written by Douglas Olthof, Project Researcher and MA in International Studies at Simon Fraser University.

It is an understatement to call Vancouver a diverse city. Take a ride on the Skytrain during peak hours and you are likely to overhear conversations in four or five different languages. Explore the city’s restaurants and you can sample cuisines from around the globe. Cruise the summer festival scene and you will experience cultural delights from every continent. It is undeniably the case that the cultural milieu of our city draws substance from as many regions of the world as there are seats in the UN assembly.

As residents of this pluralistic metropolis we can easily recognize the contribution that the diaspora­­ have made to our city’s development. What is less obvious, however, is the contribution that members of the diaspora make to development around the world. One of the objectives of Engaging Diaspora in Development Project is to identify and highlight diaspora involvement with international development. This effort is already turning up some remarkable stories:

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Starting the conversation

Panther Kuol speaks at the Engaging Diasporas in Development Project launch.

This post was written by Joanna Ashworth and Shaheen Nanji, Project Directors.    

Simon Fraser University, with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), is convening a public dialogue series called Engaging Diaspora in Development: Tapping Our Trans-local Potential for Change to explore the unique role of diaspora living in Metro Vancouver and the impact of their continued connection to the global south.

The first dialogue will be held on January 19th at SFU’s Wosk Centre for Dialogue (580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver) and will focus on diaspora-led efforts to reduce poverty and stimulate economic development.  Subsequent dialogues will examine health, education, peace and security and the overall impact and potential of diaspora in development. The dialogues are organized around the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) themes.

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