Getting ready to work in the field of International Development (I)

Maricarmen Valdivieso 
Founder and CEO
Nexos Comunitarios

I might have met more than 700 young people who participated in our programs. Grosso modo, I would say that about 30 % of them are still somehow involved in the development field. I also know that some of them are feeling frustrated about profound problems in international development thinking that the foundations of it could be wrong and, hence, maybe, giving up after a realization of other challenges. With the permission of the person who wrote this post, let me share one post I found on social media of one of our most committed former interns:

Kibera Slum, Nairobi. I’ve been studying and working in development for seven years now, yet this was the first time I’ve spent an entire day in an urban slum. I felt disgusted, not for what I saw but for what I’ve become, i.e. a development practitioner. I felt ashamed for increasingly becoming part of this so-called “development community”, which in many ways continues to optimise Kipling’s theory.   

In a couple of weeks from now, I’ll be in (…) writing my thesis in libraries funded by those who have seeded this system of international oppression. I start believing that international development is nothing else than a monstrous sham, a self-perpetuating beast. “The White Man’s Burden” will continue to prevail unless international development is deinstitutionalised.

After reading it I had a mix of feelings. I was concerned about the possibility of him losing his motivation and perspective to do a great work in the development area, but, at the same time I was relieved to see that he still keeps his critical mind. Either I agree or not with his statement, I know it is not easy to be like this, after years of learning, training, working.   He is on his way to finish his second master degree from one of the top 5 universities in the world, his career is a list of accomplishments since his graduation of undergraduate school, also in a world-renowned university. Moreover, his achievements are not just in academia, but I witnessed first-hand his commitment to fieldwork and his success during his time with us.

During the last decade, international ‘volunteer’[1] programs have increased its number and from what I see, participants are being more honest whenever they join them. Nowadays, in our internship program, many of them tell us they participate in this type of programs to gain experience and learn so they can use this experience in their resume to find a job or to get into a graduate program.   I must admit that I used to struggle with the design of our initial programs years ago when we were offering ‘volunteering’

opportunities for young people.  I was not sure if our approach was the best one and was not sure about the real impact of them. By impact, I refer not just for our local community partners, but also for those ‘volunteers’ who came to participate with us. What did they learn? Do they remember what they learned when they go back to school? Do they believe what they learned in the field it is helpful in their future work or do they only want their participation to be on their resume?   We have received feedback and we were able to verify the participation of ‘volunteers’ was positive for our community partners. However, we haven’t been able to follow the 30% of participants currently plying their trade in the development arena. I’m happy to still receive emails from former participants with their news and sometimes with a request for a recommendation letter. I rest assured that they are still doing great work. But emails come from only about 5% of former participants, mostly from the people who knew what they were doing here and why they were doing it.   Since 2015, our approach changed and I’m more satisfied with the changes we are implementing little by little. Based on the idea that our programs are opportunities to learn, my perception has changed of what is most beneficial for our local community partners and for our programs’ participants. I once thought experience in travel and duration of program determined a successful program, but I realized this was not the case.   We have been able to develop programs with universities that share similar goals as we do as an organization. For example, our short-term programs of 1-2 weeks, we have received very positive feedback on the projects and on the strength of development ties between community partners and the participants’ experience. Where can we attribute the resounding success? Perhaps to a few factors:

–       Mutuality and transparency in the relationships: the university and NC are in charge of organizing short-term programs. Typically, programs are organized and confirm 6 – 9 months before the start. The organization of a program requires a great deal of logistics and discussions about the projects, including conversations on expectations, limitations, and the overall duration of each aspect of a given program. Built on mutual trust, we are able to communicate our concerns, and after the program, we provide feedback to each other, to improve the next experience. Working in this environment, is beneficial for all parties – the community, the participants, the university and us at NC. More people are supporting our projects like the Sustainable Homes in Cuncani, started by two wonderful groups of Alternative Spring Break last February in Cuncani.

       Focus on the needs of the community partner: the needs of the community take priority, built into the design and implementation of the program. This is the true indication of the success of a program, equal to, if not more than the satisfaction of the volunteer participants. After all, the primary component of a program done well is the impact on the beneficiaries, the target audience.

       Adequate orientation and supervision of the participants: this responsibility must be shared between the university and NC, and based on the results, the success of this step is the success and satisfaction of the two other actors: community partners and the program’s participants. While talking to a former colleague, we came to the conclusion that it is common to believe that for short-term groups like the Alternative Spring Breaks, participants require a more profound orientation whilst the participants of an internship program, do not need it because they are aware of what they are learning through books and lectures. This is not true. We have witnessed how orientation sessions for all participants to be more empathetic, build trusting and lasting relationships, maintain an open mind regarding culture and respect for customs deemed “weird” when they are just different.

–       Participants are genuinely interested in the program: Participants of our short-term programs are increasingly interested in participating in the program, learning about another culture, about their fellows, about themselves, about the world in general. Some of them might be interested in developing a career in international development in the future, but when they come for a shorter period, their main goal it is not to include the program in their resume or to gain more credits. There is nothing wrong in looking for experiences that would allow them to get better jobs or opportunities in masters programs but it is important to not lose the focus of the programs and to remember why the programs exist.

–       Genuine respect: much more than political correctness, there must exist a veritable respect towards all cultures and to each person involved.

There are other factors involved in the success of programs but I thought we could start our conversation with our short-term programs and the outlined factors, because short-term group programs are often criticized. For us, however, they have proven positive.   I believe these four factors can take us to profound discussions to what is needed to make this type of programs, an opportunity for all those young people who want to be more committed to a better world, those young people who want to use their opportunities and knowledge to do meaningful work and to have a positive impact on our society.

Thanks to the invitation of Dr. Neil Arya, last year I wrote a chapter for a book called: Global Health Experiential Education. From Theory to Practice that will be published soon. It was a tremendous opportunity for me to remember all the many experiences we have had throughout all these years, to analyse our mistakes and our successes and after them, been able to contribute to the improvement of our programs. As our ‘high-season’ for our programs has come to an end, I decided to share my thoughts with you because I know there are former participants and followers of our organization who are very talented and have the potential to be great assets in the development world.

Those very young people need to receive the best education they can from the universities they choose. If they are interested in becoming a development practitioner, they also require education and training in the field. The success of their time in the field is linked to their studies and the supervision they receive from their universities. Furthermore, universities need to recognize the importance of their learning from the field. Universities have the power to make their students, not just fine and efficient professionals but great ones, moreover, great committed citizens, with the potential to improve our world for everyone.

During the next weeks, we will be sharing posts written by our amazing program’s participants. We hope you enjoy them as much we have enjoyed their time in Peru.

Thanks for reading this long post and I hope this to be the start of an ongoing discussion of this subject. And perhaps lead to many more.

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The eNCounter Program: Considering Your Future Every Step of the Way

By Justin Wood.

Entry level. They can be frustrating words for millennials these days.

When I finished university – part of the class of 2013 – I stepped into a job market that was full of opportunity, but not the kind I was expecting. More applications than I care to remember listed prior experience, sometimes years worth, as a requirement for full time, paid positions. I could never quite understand how graduates, fresh out of finals, were supposed to have experience under their belt – but so it was. In the meantime, employers eagerly filled unpaid internships and advertised volunteer placements. The internship seemed to constitute a new rite of passage that granted access to “entry level” career opportunities.

After completing my degree it quickly became clear that paid, full-time work was scarce in my particular sectors of interest. Having just finished four years of school, unpaid work wouldn’t be sustainable for long. So, as many graduates did, I too broadened my scope and took opportunities as they came, wherever they came from. I searched for paid work in related fields. I took unpaid work on the side. I tried to capitalize on every learning opportunity that presented itself. My goal was to build a resume of transferrable skills that, in time, would help me transition into the positions I was most interested in.

Sunny skies over Urubamba, Peru, home of the Nexos Comunitarios development office. December, 2015.
Sunny skies over Urubamba, Peru, home of the Nexos Comunitarios development office. December, 2015.

In the fall of 2015, after a brief stint with a research institute and a season in government, I took a position with a small development organization in Peru. Nexos Comunitarios provided me with my first exposure to development work and the day-to-day operations of a not-for-profit. As a development student, this was an opportunity I had been patiently waiting for.

Nexos Comunitarios (NC) is a Peruvian non-profit organization working in the High-Andean communities of South-Eastern Peru. NC, as an organization, focuses its efforts on fostering human capital in some of the most remote indigenous communities in the Andes. Currently, NC is working on community projects related to nutrition, food security and elementary education. To fund their work, NC provides foreign post-secondary students with opportunities to travel and learn with the organization on short-term exposure trips.

I arrived for my three-month placement with NC in October 2015. One of my tasks was to help develop a new program for foreign students; one that was longer in duration and offered a more comprehensive learning experience. Having studied development and public policy, I seized the opportunity to design a program that responded to a very specific need. It started with a couple basic questions: what experiences would be most helpful to students seeking careers in development, policy or non-profit work? What skills could NC equip students with to better position them for entry-level positions?

With these questions in mind, the eNCounter Program was formed. The eNCounter Program revolves around four components of active learning: 1) practical skill building in development and non-profit management 2) academic learning 3) language training, and 4) cultural exposure and engagement. Each component of the program is designed to be an asset; to appeal to future employers.

We wanted to ensure the fundamentals of non-profit management were covered; the importance of budgetary, financial, and contingency planning, for example, and the steps in a typical grant application. We wanted to open participants up to new perspectives in academia through study in South America, and simultaneously enhance students’ resumes by offering formal certificates for completed courses taught by the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru. We recognized the importance of language as an asset in the workplace, and have coordinated with local, Peruvian instructors to offer intensive language training, and we have provided opportunity for both structured cultural engagement and leisure exploration to round out students’ experience in Peru. Together, we tried to ensure that every experience in the eNCounter Program would be helpful to students in launching their careers.

Interview photo in Cuncani during the exploration work with Carleton University students in June, 2015.
Interview photo in Cuncani during the exploration work with Carleton University students in June, 2015.

After nearly 10 years of work, both in student programs and development, Nexos Comunitarios is excited to continue building on the efforts and experience of its predecessor, Nexos Voluntarios, with the launch of the eNCounter Program. Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, NC hopes to provide future development workers, policy experts and non-profit leaders with the skills and experiences essential for success. Our mission was to create a program that would be an asset to participants launching their careers, and their futures. We hope your encounter with Nexos Comunitarios will be just that!

For more information please visit our website.

Kick-Off -& Asobi Gokoro (II) Teoría de la Buena Educación -> Buen Ser Humano

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Preámbulo

Tras el inicio de nuestro proyecto,  Kick-Off ( vídeo ), me decidí a escribir una serie de artículos dedicados al tema de educación y al deporte con la intención de ayudar a explicar nuestra visión y esperanzas para este proyecto. Al mismo tiempo, me gustaría aplicar mis propios pensamientos e ideas. La educación y el deporte (la esencia del juego) son dos temas que captan profundamente mi atención y dan lugar a mis propias aspiraciones. Me tomará más de un  artículo explicar todo, así que he dividido mis pensamientos en 5 artículos: 

Tema 1 : “ Educación 

Tema 2: “El deporte y la esencia del juego 

Tema 3: “Educación x juego”

Tema 4: “Educación x Juego = Puerta de entrada para el Desarrollo Internacional”

Tema 5: “Origen del proyecto y los orígenes de mi sueño Asobi-Gokoro 

Estaré publicando cada artículo semanalmente. En estos artículos, reflejaré mi experiencia personal para explicar mis ideas. Sin embargo, es mi intención presentar la raíz de la implementación de nuestro proyecto Kick-Off. Confío en decir que este no es un  buen proyecto  , sino que estamos introduciendo un proyecto potencialmente  i n c r e í b l e.

Antes de entrar a desarrollar el contenido, quiero compartir algo sobre mí. Estoy entusiasmado con este tema y siempre quise compartir mis ideas con los demás. Pero, mi personalidad discreta , siendo Japonés , me ha hecho dudar un poco sobre compartir abiertamente mis ideas de manera pública. Además, a menudo sentía que tenía que estar perfectamente escrito para ser aprobado y alabado por otros. Pero me he dado cuenta que mi ideal perfeccionista no me hace ningún bien, así que he cambiado de opinión. Es como haber retirado una enorme carga de mi hombros. Por ello, escribiré este artículo de una manera muy franca, ya que hablo por varias razones. Uno, creo que comparte mi mensaje mucho más fácil y más claro para todo el mundo. Dos, me permite ser abierto y transparente con mis ideas. Tres, solo hace que mi vida sea más fácil al escribir en el estilo con el que me siento más cómodo.

Así que estoy seguro que no está perfectamente escrito, pero estoy muy feliz compartiéndolo con ustedes de esta forma.

 

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Primero, gracias a quienes hayan leído mi primer artículo. Haga clic aquí.  Esta semana, escribiré sobre la nueva Buena educación -> Buen Ser Humano. ¡Espero que disfruten de su  lectura! 

Tema 1 “Educación”

Episodio 2: Teoría de Buena educación ->  Buen Ser Humano 

<Los superhéroes son superhéroes por una razón>

“… Por eso fuiste elegido. Debido a que un hombre fuerte, que ha conocido el poder toda su vida, perderá respeto por ese poder, pero un hombre débil conoce el valor de la fuerza y conoce la  compasión … Pase lo que pase mañana, debes prometerme una cosa , que permanecerás siendo el mismo. No  un soldado perfecto, sino un buen hombre.

Recientemente comencé a ver la serie Marvel para prepararme para el nuevo episodio de Avengers 4: Endgame. Los Vengadores son básicamente un grupo de superhéroes que se unen para luchar contra villanos para salvar el mundo. Este es una de mis conversaciones favoritas de “Capitán América: El primer vengador”. El Dr. Erskine explica la razón por la que ha elegido a Steve Rogers (un niño normal de Brooklyn) para dar el super-poder (video). Después de recibirlo, Steve Rogers se convierte en Capitán América y salva al mundo. Me encanta esta cita porque realmente muestra la razón por la que es un superhéroe. En general, no son superhéroes solo por su super-poder. Son superhéroes porque son buenos seres humanos con un super-poder. No son seres perfectos, sino buenos seres humanos. Un mal ser humano con un super-poder puede ser el caso perfecto para ser un villano. 

En este artículo, primero explicaré  mi pensamiento  sobre Buena Educación -> Buen Ser Humano al aplicar el modelo basado en el ejemplo de los superhéroes. Luego, discutiré la importancia de una buena educación humana y cómo podemos lograrlo.  Finalmente, compartiré con ustedes una experiencia personal de mis días de escuela intermedia (1ero y 2do de secundaria)  que me dio una lección importante sobre un buena educación humana.

Teoría del Buen Ser Humano para convertirse en un superhéroe ->

Los superhéroes son nuestros ídolos. Creo que muestran el modelo de la vida exitosa que imaginamos. Desafortunadamente, no hay un super-poder en nuestra vida ordinaria. Nadie puede armarse con un traje de batalla de color rojo hecho de hierro,  o tiene el martillo mitológico que tiene un poder mágico o puede convertirse en un monstruo verde con una gran poder. En nuestro mundo, el conocimiento es poder. Aunque piensen que el dinero es poder, personalmente lo veo como algo externo que te da poder. Para poner en contexto, veo el conocimiento como el poder interno así como la fuerza física o el super-poder. El dinero es como cualquier arma, como una ametralladora , que te da poder externo. Pero una vez que pierdes el arma, te conviertes en un hombre normal. Entonces, entiendo que el verdadero poder de un ser humano es el conocimiento, no el dinero.

Para poner en contexto, de acuerdo con la teoría de la Buena Educación -> Buen trabajo, enfocamos a los niños a fortalecer su poder para convertirse en superhéroes. Esto es importante, pero a menudo se deja de  lado el enfoque  desarrollo de su propia personalidad. Recuerda, un buen ser humano es la base para ser un superhéroe. Lo que necesitamos es una ‘ buena educación humana ‘ , donde los niños y niñas crecen para ser una persona con un buen corazón. Todos nacemos con un gran potencial para convertirnos en superhéroes . Sin embargo, también, todos hemos nacido con una semilla que nos puede llevar a convertirnos en villano, en base a nuestro ego.  De hecho, muchos de nuestros problemas sociales son causados ​​por nuestros egos. Por lo tanto, hay que dar prioridad a una buena educación humana más (sin comprometer el desarrollo de su conocimiento) para que los niños utilicen su poder de una manera correcta – para que luego se conviertan en superhéroes. Ser un buen ser humano no garantiza que uno se convertirá en un superhéroe . Sin embargo, es un fundamento indispensable. Este es mi pensamiento Buena Educación -> Buen Ser Humano. Antes de continuar, quiero decir que tal vez haya simplificado en exceso la complejidad humana al explicar mi teoría basada solo en el conocimiento y la personalidad. Soy consciente de que hay otras fuerzas como la ignorancia, la emoción y otros. El Entorno  hace más complicada la realidad. Pero espero haber sido capaz de transmitir mi punto de una manera comprensible mediante el uso de la analogía de superhéroes.

Buena Educación Human ->

La buena educación humana se vuelve tan importante no solo para que la persona tenga una vida plena , sino que también es crucial para el Desarrollo Internacional. Y es por eso que llevó a NC a desarrollar nuestro proyecto Kick-Off ; centrarse en la buena educación humana mediante el desarrollo de habilidades cognitivas y no cognitivas entre los niños y niñas para combatir la pobreza a largo plazo. Pero seguiré discutiendo este punto en mi Tema 4: Buena educación como puerta de entrada para el Desarrollo Internacional.

Ahora, quiero  recurrir a la siguiente pregunta: ¿cómo se ve exactamente una Buena Educación Humana? Bueno, seré honesto . No tengo una definición clara y concisa en este momento. Lo veo como un proceso que nos permite ser un buen ser humano desarrollando principios como la integridad, la humildad, la fidelidad, la templanza, el valor, la justicia, la modestia, la compasión y la empatía. Para ponerlo sencillo, la educación que nos permita ser como “Capitán América”.Estoy seguro que entienden mi punto. Creo que la buena educación humana comienza con una buena crianza. Estoy agradecido por mi mamá y mi papá y por cómo me criaron. Mi mamá me enseñó a ser compasivo y mi papá me mostró cómo ser valiente. Me han hecho la base de quien soy hoy. Mientras tanto, todavía creo que la escuela también  juega un gran papel en la formación humana. En mi caso, recibí una excelente educación humana en mi escuela secundaria en Canadá.

 Mi buena educación humana en la escuela intermedia->

Si alguien me pregunta “sombrero de  cuál era el mejor momento de mi vida “, Respondería en un segundo , “Mis 2 años en la escuela intermedia “. Mi asombroso recuerdo de 2 años comenzó cuando me mudé a Ottawa por primera vez. Para un niño que nació y se crió en Japón, pasando a una sociedad multicultural fue una experiencia reveladora. A diferencia de mi hermano, que había estudiado inglés con diligencia para prepararse para un nuevo entorno, yo estaba demasiado ocupado jugando con mis amigos en Tokio. Por lo tanto , me pusieron en una clase de Inglés como Segundo Idioma (ESL) y no pude ni entender ni hablar por alrededor de un año. Mi amigo me recuerda como un chico japonés callado. Afortunadamente, a pesar de las barreras del idioma, estaba absolutamente enamorado de esta escuela en Ottawa. Hay muchas razones, pero si tuviera que decirlo en una sola palabra, diría que debido al ” Espacio Seguro”. Este es un espacio donde realmente nos sentimos seguros basados ​​en un fuerte sentido de confianza. Desarrollamos nuestro “espacio de seguridad” basado en nuestra confianza mutua. Es un espacio especial donde nos hacemos libres y abiertos. Me gusta imaginarlo como un dormitorio con paredes de azul cielo. Es transparente desde elinterior pero invisible desde el exterior. No hay gravedad en la zona y está llena de aire fresco y cálido. Nos proporciona una sensación de seguridad y eleva mi cuerpo y mi corazón y es lugar en donde puedo experimentar la verdadera alegría. Al mismo tiempo, aquí es donde la experiencia de aprendizaje más valiosa ocurre cuando expones tu corazón abierto a los demás. No aparece de un día para otro. Solo se forma acumulando poca confianza en la construcción de acciones entre una persona y otra. Mientras más fuerte es la confianza,  más cómodo te sientes en el “espacio seguro”.

Es probable que haya construido este “espacio seguro” con sus mejores amigos de la escuela o con los miembros de su familia en la casa. Pero es relativamente raro tener el “Espacio Seguro” en un entorno de aula. Lo que hizo especial a mi escuela secundaria fue  la particularidad de nuestros maestros al valorar la construcción de un “espacio seguro” en nuestro salón de clases. Fui particularmente afortunado porque nuestros maestros de ESL invirtieron enormemente su tiempo es construirlo. He tenido algunos maestros excelentes en mi escuela primaria, secundaria y universidad, pero nada era como mi aula de ESL. Les puedo decir que no hay muchos maestros que puedan hacer esto. Y lo que hace diferente a un gran maestro de los demás es que conocen la importancia de ese espacio y que tienen el valor de invertir una gran cantidad de su tiempo y esfuerzo en la construcción de un “Espacio Seguro”. Y este es el ambiente del aula donde se lleva a cabo la buena educación humana. 

Creo que había un buen número de nosotros que han crecido en un espacio como éste. Pero hubo un muchacho afgano que creo que se benefició particularmente de este entorno. Es uno de mis mejores amigos y se mudó a Canadá casi al mismo tiempo que yo. Era un trabajador infantil y nunca recibió ninguna educación formal en su ciudad natal. En nuestra escuela , él siempre fue el creador de problemas , tanto dentro como fuera de ella. Cuando lo vi por primera vez, estaba un poco asustado porque parecía un niño loco y enojado. Aunque éramos muy diferentes, de pronto se convirtió en alguien muy cercano a través de la práctica del voleibol y establecimos nuestro propio “espacio seguro”. Pronto me di cuenta de que tenía un profundo respeto por él. A pesar que tenía mucho mejores notas, había una cosa que siempre lo admiraba de él: su valentía. A pesar de que estaba causando problemas cada minuto, siempre tuvo las agallas para defender lo que creen que era lo correcto. Todavía recuerdo el día en que salimos a buscar Poutine (comida canadiense mezclada con papas fritas, queso y salsa gravy) en un lugar cerca de nuestra escuela, mientras esperábamos en una fila, había un tipo que nos miraba con cara de disgusto. Pronto nos sentimos muy incómodos, y fue entonces cuando mi amigo se acercó y simplemente le dijo “¿puedes dejar de mirarnos?” Él Respondió furioso y la situación se agravó. El chico se levantó y agarró a mi amigo, pero él no retrocedió y comenzaron a pelear. Ahora que lo pienso, el tipo era probablemente un alcohólico o un drogadicto por la forma en que estaba reaccionando. ¿Y yo qué estaba haciendo? Bueno, estaba intentando detener la pelea, pero creo que no servía de nada. Mientras tanto, otro amigo de nuestro grupo hizo un movimiento inteligente y volvió a la escuela para traer a los maestros para resolver el problema. Yo debería haber hecho eso.

Si eres de mi escuela intermedia, probablemente sabes a quién me refiero .

A pesar  que  he tenido un profundo respeto por mi amigo afgano, él mismo tuvo que pasar por muchas dificultades en su vida, incluso antes de empezar la escuela. Haciendo matemáticas, lectura, escritura o simplemente al sentarse durante una hora fue en algún momento demasiado para él. Al verlo tener problemas, lo que nuestro maestro hizo, primero fue construir un “espacio seguro” para él y para todos nosotros. Y eso era algo que necesitaba en ese momento, lo que más necesitaba. Estoy seguro que él tenía el más profundo respeto por ellos, igual que yo aún lo tengo . Además, estoy seguro que aprendió muchas cosas con solo mirar a nuestros maestros . A partir de ser un niño  enojado,  en los dos años que estudiamos pude verlo convertirse en una persona responsable, disciplinada, y compasiva. Esto es  sólo un ejemplo de cómo he visto recibir una buena educación humana.  Pero estoy seguro que todos mis amigos (incluyendo a mis maestros) disfrutaron de tener un fuerte “Espacio Seguro”  y han aprendido muchas, muchas, muchas cosas importantes el uno del otro. Parafraseando la cita del Dr. Erskine : “No es un estudiante perfecto, pero un buen hombre”.

La buena educación humana es como un proceso sin fin. He demostrado cómo la formación humana que sucede  en la escuela va más allá de eso. Todos y cada uno de nosotros todavía estamos en el proceso de recibir una buena educación humana. ¿Cómo es posible recibir educación sin estar en una institución de educación? Bueno, voy a discutir esto en mi próximo artículo.

Fue un artículo bastante largo, pero les agradezco por leerlo. Y les agradecería mucho si me hicieran llegar sus pensamientos :).

Hasta la próxima.

Kick-Off -> Asobi Gokoro (II) The Education -> Good Human Theory

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Foreward

Following the implementation of our (Nexos Comunitarios) Kick-Off project (video), I decided to write a series of articles dedicated to the issue of education and sport with the intention to help us explain our vision and hopes towards this project. At the same time, I would l like to apply my own thoughts and ideas.

This topic of education and sport (the essence of play) is something that deeply captures my attention and gives rise to my own aspirations. It would take much longer than a single article to explain everything so I have divided my articles into five sections.

Theme 1: “Education”

Theme 2: “Sport and the Essence of Play”

Theme 3: “Education x Play”

Theme 4: “Education x Play = Gateway for international development”

Theme 5: “Origin of the Kick-Off Project and the origins of my dream Asobi-Gokoro

I will be posting each article weekly. In these articles, I will be reflecting on my personal experience to explain my ideas. However, it is my intention to introduce you to the root of the implementation of our Kick-Off project. I am confident in saying that this is not just any good project, but that we are introducing a potentially amazing project.

Before we get into the content, I want to share a small thing about myself. I am enthusiastic about this topic and I always wanted to share my belief with others. But, my discreet personality, being Japanese, has made me little hesitant towards openly sharing my ideas on social media. Also, I often felt it needed to be perfectly written to be approved of and praised by others. But I have realized this perfectionist ideal of mine is doing no good for me, so I have changed my mind. It is like having lifted a huge burden from my shoulders. You will find it soon enough, but I will be writing this article in a very frank way as I speak for several reasons. One, I believe it conveys my message much easier and clearer for everyone. Two, it allows me to be open and transparent with my ideas. Three, it just makes my life easier by writing in the style that I am most comfortable with.

So I’m sure it is not perfectly written, but Im pretty happy to have it this way.

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First, thank you to those who have read my first article. If you haven’t, please click here to check before you start to read this article. Last week, I wrote an article introducing Good Education -> Good Job theory. This week, I will write about the new Good Education -> Good Human theory. I hope you enjoy reading!

Theme 1 “Education”

Good Education -> Good Human theory

“…This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength and knows compassion… Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing, that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”

I recently started to watch the Marvel series to prepare myself for the new Avenger 4: Endgame. The Avengers is basically a bunch of superheroes coming together to fight against a villain to save the world. This is one of my favourite conversations from “Captain America: The First Avenger”. Dr. Erskine explains the reason why he has chosen Steve Rogers (a regular kid from Brooklyn) to give the superpower (click here to watch the video). After receiving the superpower, Steve Rogers becomes Captain America and saves the world. I love this quote because it really shows the reason why they are superheroes. They are not superheroes just because of their superpower. They are superheroes because they are good human beings with a superpower. Not a perfect person, but a good human. A bad human being with a superpower would be a perfect fit to be a villain in the movie for sure.

In this article, I will first explain my Good Education -> Good Human theory by applying the model based on the example of superheroes. Then, I will discuss the importance of good human education and how we can achieve that. Finally, I will share with you a personal experience from my middle school days that gave me an important lesson on good human education.

Good Human theory to become a superhero>

Superheroes are our idols. I believe they show the model of the successful life that we envision. Unfortunately, there is no superpower in our daily lives. No-one can arm oneself with a fancy red battle suit made of iron, have the random old mythological hammer that somehow has mighty power, or can turn into a green monster with extraordinary physical strength. In our world, knowledge is power. Although you might think money is power, I personally see them as the external thing that gives you power. To put into context, I see knowledge as the internal power such as your physical strength or superpower. Money is like any weapon such as a machine gun, that gives you external power. But once you lose the weapon, you become just a regular man. So, I understand that the real power of a human being is knowledge, not money.

To put into context, according to the Good Education -> Good Job theory, we focus children to strengthen their power to become superheroes. This is important, but it often puts aside a focus on them developing their own personality. Remember, a good man is the foundation to be a superhero. What we need is what I call ‘good human education’, where children grow to be a person with a good heart. We are all born with full of potential to become superheroes. Meanwhile, we are all born with a seed that can lead us to become a villain, which is based on our ego. Without a good human education, the ego will take over a child to become an ego-centric villain who will deceive others for their own benefits. Indeed many of our social problems are caused by our egos. Thus, we must prioritize good human education more (without compromising the development of their knowledge) for the children to use their power in the correct way – for them to then become superheroes. Being a good human does not guarantee that one will become a superhero. However, it is an indispensable foundation upon which they can become one. This is my Good Education -> Good Human theory. Before I continue, I want to say that perhaps I have oversimplified the human complexity by explaining my theory based on just knowledge, and personality. I am aware there are other forces such as ignorance, emotion or one’s environment that makes reality more complicated. But I hope I was able to convey my point by in an understandable manner by using the superhero analogy.

Good human education becomes so important not just for the individual to have full-filled life, but it is also crucial for international development. And that is why it led NC to come up with our Kick-Off project; to focus on good human education by building cognitive and non-cognitive skills amongst children in order to combat poverty in the long run. But I will further discuss this point in my Theme 4: Education x Play = Gateway for International Development.

Now, I want to turn to the following question: how exactly will good human education will look like? Well, I will be honest. I do not have a concise and clear definition at the moment. I see it as a process that allows us to be a good human who develops principles such as integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, modesty, compassion and empathy. To put it simply, basically, it is education that allows us to be like “Captain America”. I’m sure you get my point. I believe good human education starts with good parenting. I am grateful for my mom and dad and how they raised me. My mom told me how to be compassionate, and my dad showed me how to be courageous. They have made me the foundation of who I am today. Meanwhile, I still believe school also has a huge role in good human education. In my case, I received an amazing good human education in my middle school in Canada.

If anyone asks me “What was the best moment of your life?”, I would answer, “My 2 years in middle school” within a second. My amazing memory of 2 years started as I moved to Ottawa for the first time. For a kid who was born and raised in Japan, moving to a multicultural society was an eye-opening experience. Unlike my brother, who had diligently studied English to prepare himself for a new environment, I was too busy playing with my friends in Tokyo. So, I was put into an English Second Language (ESL) class and wasn’t able to neither understand nor speak for about a year. My friend remembers me as a quiet Japanese kid. Luckily enough, despite the language barriers, I was absolutely in love with this school in Ottawa. There are many reasons, but if I were to say it in one word, I would say because of the “Safety Space”. This is a space where we truly feel secured based on a strong sense of trust. We develop our “Safety Space” built upon our mutual trust. It is a special space where we become free and open. I like to imagine it as a dorm with sky blue walls. It is transparent from the inside but it is invisible from the outside. There is no gravity exists in the area and it is full of fresh and warm air. It provides us with a sense of security and it uplifts the body and my heart and I can experience true joy. At the same time, this is where the most valuable learning experience happens as you expose your open heart to others. It does not appear from one day to another. It is only formed through accumulating small trust in building actions between one person and another. The stronger the trust is, the more comfortable you feel in the “SafetySpace”.

You probably have built this “Safety Space” with your best friends from school or with your family members in the house. But it is relatively rare to have the “Safety Space” in a classroom environment. What it made special about my middle school was that our teachers particularity valued building a “Safe Space” in our classroom. I was particularly lucky because our ESL teachers immensely invested their time of building “Safety Space”. I have had some great teachers in my elementary, high school, and university, but nothing was like my ESL classroom. I can tell you that not many teachers are able to do this. And what makes a great teacher different from others is that they know the importance of such a space and that they have the courage to invest a great amount of their time and effort in building a “Safety Space”. And this is the classroom environment where good human education takes place.

I believe there were quite a few of us who have grown ourselves through a “Safety Space”. But there was this one Afghani guy who I believe particularly benefited from this environment. He is one of my best friends who moved to Canada at the same time as I did. He was a child labourer and never received any formal education in his home town. In our school, he was always the trouble maker, both inside and outside of the school. When I first saw him, I was a little scared because he looked like just a crazy and angry kid. Although we were very different, we soon became very close through playing volleyball and established our own “Safety Space”. I soon realized that I had a deep respect for him. Although I had much better grades, there was one thing I always admired him for. He was courageous. Although he was causing problems every minute, he always had the guts to stand up for what he believed was the right thing to do. I still remember the day when we went out to get Poutine (Canadian food mixed of fries, cheese, and gravy sauce) in place near our school, while we were waiting in a line, there was this guy staring at us with a disgusted face. We soon felt very uncomfortable, and that’s when my friend stepped up and simply told: “can’t you stop staring at us?” He responded furiously and the situation escalated. The guy stood up and grabbed my friend but he didn’t back up and they started to fight. Now I think back, the guy was probably either an alcoholic or a drug addict in the way he was reacting. And what I was doing? Well, I was trying to stop the fight but I think I was of no use. Meanwhile, another friend from our group made a clever move to ran back to the school and brought back teachers to settle the problem. I should have done that.

If you are from my middle school, you probably know who I am referring to.

Although my Afghani friend had my deep respect, he himself had to go through many difficult moments in the school as he had never attended a school before in his life. Doing math, reading, writing or just simply sitting down for an hour was sometimes too much for him. Seeing him having problems, what our teacher did first was to build a “Safety Space” for us to be a good human, and also to do good academically. And that was something he needed at that time, the most. I am sure that he had the deepest respect for them just like I had, and still do. Also, I am sure he learned many things by just looking up to our teachers. Starting from being an angry, crazy, little boy during the two-year period, I have seen him becoming a more responsible, disciplined, and compassionate person. This was just an example of how I have seen one of my friends receiving good human education. But I am quite certain that all of my friends (including my teachers) who enjoyed having a strong “Safety Space” have learned many, many, MANY important things from each other. To paraphrase the quote from Dr. Erskine: “Not a perfect student, but a good man.”

Good human education is like a process without the end to it. I have demonstrated how good human education can happen in school but it goes beyond that. Every single one of us is in still in the process of receiving good human education. How is that possible to receive an education without being in an educational institution? Well, I will discuss this in my next article.

It was a bit of a long article but thanks so much for reading. And I would appreciate it A LOT if you could let me know your comments or thoughts 🙂

 

Kick-Off -& Asobi Gokoro (I) Teoría de la Buena Educación -> Buen Trabajo

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ
MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

Tras el inicio de nuestro proyecto,  Kick-Off ( vídeo ), me decidí a escribir una serie de artículos dedicados al tema de educación y al deporte con la intención de ayudar a explicar nuestra visión y esperanzas para este proyecto. Al mismo tiempo, me gustaría aplicar mis propios pensamientos e ideas.

La educación y el deporte (la esencia del juego) son dos temas que captan profundamente mi atención y dan lugar a mis propia aspiraciones. Me tomará más de un  artículo explicar todo, así que he dividido mis pensamientos en 5 artículos: 

Tema 1 : “ Educación 

Tema 2: “El deporte y la esencia del juego 

Tema 3: “Educación x juego”

Tema 4: “Educación x Juego = Puerta de entrada para el Desarrollo Internacional”

Tema 5: “Origen del proyecto y los orígenes de mi sueño Asobi-Gokoro 

Estaré publicando cada artículo semanalmente. En estos artículos, reflejaré mi experiencia personal para explicar mis ideas. Sin embargo, es mi intención presentar la raíz de la implementación de nuestro proyecto Kick-Off. Confío en decir que este no es un  buen proyecto  , sino que estamos introduciendo un proyecto potencialmente  i n c r e í b l e.

Antes de entrar a desarrollar el contenido, quiero compartir algo sobre mí. Estoy entusiasmado con este tema y siempre quise compartir mis ideas con los demás. Pero, mi personalidad discreta , siendo Japonés , me ha hecho dudar un poco sobre compartir abiertamente mis ideas de manera pública. Además, a menudo sentía que tenía que estar perfectamente escrito para ser aprobado y alabado por otros. Pero me he dado cuenta que mi ideal perfeccionista no me hace ningún bien, así que he cambiado de opinión. Es como haber retirado una enorme carga de mi hombros. Por ello, escribiré este artículo de una manera muy franca, ya que hablo por varias razones. Uno, creo que comparte mi mensaje mucho más fácil y más claro para todo el mundo. Dos, me permite ser abierto y transparente con mis ideas. Tres, solo hace que mi vida sea más fácil al escribir en el estilo con el que me siento más cómodo.

Así que estoy seguro que no está perfectamente escrito, pero estoy muy feliz compartiéndolo con ustedes de esta forma.

Mi primer artículo de esta semana es la parte 1 del tema 1 “Educación”. Para explicar el proyecto desde sus raíces y para entender de educación que tenemos en Nexos Comunitarios.

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ
MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

 Tema 1 “Educación”

Episodio 1: Buena educación -> Teoría del buen trabajo 

Bien, en este artículo, mi objetivo es identificar el discurso dominante sobre cómo entendemos la “educación”. Primera pregunta, ¿qué es la educación? Te pido que no actúes como ‘sabelotodo’  tratando de terminar esta discusión buscando la definición de educación en el diccionario. Lo que intenté hacer es un poco más que eso. Pero, en busca de la definición ir al diccionario es un buen punto de partida. Según el diccionario (que está incorporado en mi MacBook), educación es “el proceso de recibir o dar instrucción sistemática, especialmente en una escuela o universidad”. Creo que no habrá una sola persona que no esté de acuerdo con esta definición. De hecho, la educación se ha convertido en una norma tal en nuestras vidas que no nos tomamos mucho tiempo para pensar realmente en ello profundamente. Si pudiera tener una máquina del tiempo y volver al 2010 cuando comencé mi vida en la escuela secundaria , probablemente habría tenido la siguiente conversación conmigo mismo … 

Yo 2019: “Oye, ¿acabo de acceder a una máquina del tiempo para hacerte algunas preguntas?”

Yo 2010: “  bueno”

Yo 2019: “Muy bien, mi primera pregunta es … ¿qué significa tener una buena educación?

Yo 2010: “… ¿Esa es la pregunta? … Pensé que sería algo más interesante”.

Yo 2019: “Bueno, este es un tema muy interesante. Y pronto te darás cuenta … en unos 9 años “.

Yo 2010: “…. Está bien … Supongo que tener una buena educación es ir  bien en la escuela “.

Yo 2019: “¿Y qué significa ir bien en la escuela?  

Yo 2010: “ Ah …. Significa estudiar mucho y sacar una buena nota ”

Yo 2019: “¿Por qué es importante recibir una buena calificación?”

Yo 2010: “…. Las necesitas para ser admitido en buenas universidades “.

Yo de 2019: “Y¿ Por qué ir a una buena universidad es tan importante? 

Yo 2010: “… Dios mío … ¿es esta una pregunta interminable?

Yo 2019:  No, no no , no te preocupes , no lo es ”.

Yo 2010: “… ok … porque un título de una buena universidad puede conseguirnos un buen trabajo”.

Yo 2019: “¿Así que vas a ir a la universidad para conseguir un buen trabajo?”

Yo 2010: “Bueno… no solo eso…. una buena educación también nos da  conocimiento y habilidades. Bueno, para empezar sin el conocimiento, ni siquiera se puede obtener una buena nota ni ser aceptado en la universidad, por supuesto … “

Yo 2019: “Bien, entonces, ¿qué quieres decir con un  buen trabajo ‘? ¿Y por qué es importante?

Yo 2010: “… un buen trabajo es básicamente un buen sueldo. Y es importante porque necesitas dinero para tener éxito “

Yo 2019: “Bueno, para resumir, ¿estás recibiendo educación para adquirir conocimientos que te permitan tener un trabajo bien pagado para tener éxito?”

Yo 2010: “ Umm … sí, supongo que puedes decir eso”.

¿Con qué te quedas de esta conversación? Primero, ves como Yo 2010  me encuentro aparentemente  confundido e incluso irritado por haber tenido que responder a tantas preguntas sobre la escuela. Estaba atravesando por la adolescencia en una fase rebelde, así que es comprensible. En segundo lugar, se ve un vínculo claro entre “buena educación”, “buen título”, “buen trabajo”, “vida exitosa”. Si el niño A  con un alto rendimiento académico que tiene la capacidad de ir a una universidad de prestigio , y el niño B ‘, un analfabeta y siempre en problemas en la escuela. Aunque suene como una pregunta dura: ¿a quién quieres tener como hijo? Probablemente al niño A  , porque tiene un una mejor educación  que les permite tener mejores oportunidades en la vida.

Creo que este es el entendimiento común de cómo vemos la educación en general. De hecho, después de vivir en el extranjero, me di cuenta de la intensidad por la que pasan los estudiantes japoneses para ingresar a las universidades.  Durante el último año de secundaria nos dedicamos al examen de ingreso de las universidades. Yo estaba en una escuela secundaria, relativamente competitiva académicamente y recuerdo a nuestros maestros diciéndonos:  “ necesitan por lo menos 10 horas al  día para prepararse para el examen de admisión de las universidades. Esto determinará su carrera.” Fue, y sigue siendo muy común para nosotros el asistir a las escuelas de cursos intensivos para prepararnos para el examen de admisión para la universidad. Muchos de mis amigos fueron directamente a estas escuelas, directamente después de la escuela secundaria para estudiar allí hasta las 10 p.m. y luego realizar los deberes en la casa. Prácticamente, estudiamos de 08 a.m.-10 p.m., todos los días …. si te preguntas si estudié en esa escuela, la respuesta es No.  Decidí aplicar a universidad en Canadá, donde no había una prueba de admisión (solo bastaba la certificación de la escuela secundaria). Así que en realidad estaba muy aburrido en mi último año de la escuela secundaria sin tener a nadie con quien salir después de clases. Recuerdo que estaba haciendo un trabajo a tiempo parcial y vi toda la serie de ‘Prison Break’, como una excusa para “practicar mi Inglés ”. De todos modos, se ve cómo priorizamos tanto la aceptación en  las universidades que la  “EDUCACIÓN” se convirtió en  el “estudio para  entrar en buenas universidades.” El peso de los nombres de las universidades, es tan grande, que genera grandes ventajas ( y desventajas ) cuando estás desarrollando tu carrera.

Personalmente quiero llamar a esta buena educación = teoría del buen trabajo. No solo Japón, en el campo del desarrollo internacional, la educación siempre es un tema crucial y creo que la buena educación -> la teoría del buen trabajo es el discurso dominante . Discutiré la relación entre educación y desarrollo internacional en mi Tema. 4 : “Educación x juego = Portal para el desarrollo internacional” .

Entonces, lo que quería mencionar en este artículo es que la buena educación -> la teoría del buen trabajo es un discurso dominante. Pero quiero que piensen detenidamente : ¿ es así como debe interpretarse la educación? Lo que me he dado cuenta especialmente durante estos dos años de experiencia en el trabajo como un trabajador de campo en el Perú es que he empezado piense ing en una perspectiva diferente. Para aclarar, no estoy negando la importancia de una buena educación -> teoría del buen trabajo. De ningún modo. De hecho, es crucial en nuestra sociedad capitalista. Lo que me gusta abordar es que creo que hay otra teoría que se ha pasado por alto o que se ha subestimado en la sombra de la presencia de una buena educación -> teoría del buen trabajo. Es decir, lo que yo llamo buena educación -> buena teoría humana. Seguiré discutiendo este tema en mi próximo artículo, parte 2 del Tema 1 “Educación” . ¡Creo que será algo que valdrá la pena leer!

Y, ¡gracias por leer mi primer artículo!

Kick-Off -> Asobi Gokoro (I) The Education -> Good Job Theory

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

Forward

Following the implementation of our (Nexos Comunitarios) ‘Kick-Off’ project (video), I decided to write a series of articles dedicated to the issue of education and sport with the intention to help us explain our vision and hopes towards this project. At the same time, I would l like to apply my own thoughts and ideas.

This topic of education and sport (the essence of play) is something that deeply captures my attention and gives rise to my own aspirations. It would take much longer than a single article to explain everything so I have divided my articles into five sections.

Theme 1: “Education”

Theme 2: “Sport and the Essence of Play”

Theme 3: “Education x Play”

Theme 4: “Education x Play = Gateway for international development”

Theme 5: “Origin of the Kick-Off Project and the origins of my dream Asobi-Gokoro

I will be posting each article weekly. In these articles, I will be reflecting on my personal experience to explain my ideas. However, it is my intention to introduce you to the root of the implementation of our Kick-Off project. I am confident in saying that this is not just any ‘good project’, but that we are introducing a potentially amazing project.

Before we get into the content, I want to share a small thing about myself. I am enthusiastic about this topic and I always wanted to share my belief with others. But, my discreet personality, being Japanese, has made me little hesitant towards openly sharing my ideas on social media. Also, I often felt it needed to be perfectly written to be approved of and praised by others. But I have realized this perfectionist ideal of mine is doing no good for me, so I have changed my mind. It is like having lifted a huge burden from my shoulders. You will find it soon enough, but I will be writing this article in a very frank way as I speak for several reasons. One, I believe it conveys my message much easier and clearer for everyone. Two, it allows me to be open and transparent with my ideas. Three, it just makes my life easier by writing in the style that I am most comfortable with.

So I’m sure it is not perfectly written, but I’m pretty happy to have it this way.

My first article for this week is part 1 of Theme 1 “Education”. In order to explain the Kick-Off project, this is essential reading to understand how NC sees education.

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

Theme 1 “Education”

Part 1: Good Education -> Good Job theory

Okay, so in this article, my goal is to identify the dominant discourse of how we understand “education”. First question, “what is education”? Don’t be a smart-ass and try to end this discussion by searching the definition of education in the dictionary. What I intend to do is a little more than that. But, looking for the definition will be a good place to start.  According to the dictionary (that it is embedded in my MacBook), it states “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” I believe there will be a no single person who will disagree with this definition. Indeed, education has become such a norm in our lives that we do not take much time to really think about it deeply. If I could have a time machine and go back to 2010 when I started my high school life, I would probably have had the following conversation with myself…

Me 2019: “Hey I just took a time machine to ask you some questions?”

Me 2010: “….. okay”

Me 2019: “Okay so, my first question is… what does it mean having a good education?

Me 2010: “… That’s the question?… I thought it would be something more interesting.”

Me 2019: “Well this is a pretty interesting topic. And you will soon realize… in about 9 years.”

Me 2010: “…. Okay… I guess having a good education is doing good at school.”

Me 2019: “And what does it mean by doing good in school?”

Me 2010: “Ah…. It means to study hard and get a good grade”

Me 2019: “Why receiving good grade is important?”

Me 2010: “…. Because, you kind of need that to get into good universities.”

Me 2019: “And why is that going to a good university important?”

Me 2010: “… omg… is this an endless question?

Me 2019: “No no no, don’t worry, it is not.”

Me 2010: “…ok… because a degree from a good university can get us a good job.”

Me 2019: “So you are going to university to get a good job?”

Me 2010: “Well… not just that…. I’ll say… education also gives us knowledge and skills. Well, to begin with without knowledge, you can’t even get a good grade nor get accepted into university, of course…”

Me 2019: “Okay, then, what do you mean by a ‘good job’ and why it is important?”

Me 2010: “… a good job is basically a good paid job. And it’s important because you need money to be successful.”

Me 2019: “Okay so to summarize, you are receiving education to gain knowledge that allows you to have a good paid job to be successful?”

Me 2010: “Umm… yes I guess you can say that.”

What do you see from this conversation? First, you see ‘Me 2010’ as seemingly confused and even irritated about been asked so many questions about school. I was in the middle of a teenager going through a rebellious phase, so it’s understandable. Second, you see a clear linkage between “good education” – “good degree” – “good job” – “Successful life”. If there is ‘child A’ with a high academic achievement that has the capacity to go a prestigious university, and ‘child B’ who is illiterate and always in trouble at school, which do you prefer to have as your kid? Probably ‘child A’, because they have a much better education that allows them to have greater opportunities in life.

I believe this is a common understanding of how we see education in general. Indeed, after living abroad, I realized how intense Japanese students study to get into universities. During the last year of high school, we dedicate ourselves for the entrance exam of universities. I was in a relatively academically competitive high school, and remember our teachers telling us “at least study 10 hours per day to prepare yourself for the entrance exam of universities. This will determine your career.” It was and still is, very common for us to go to cramming school to study just to prepare ourselves for the entrance exam for the university that you want to get in. Many of my friends went straight to cramming school after school and studied there until around 10 pm and then go home. So pretty much studying from 8am to 10 pm, everyday… You might be wondering if I was studying like this. No, I wasn’t. I applied for university in Canada where there were no entrance exams (just with the grade from my high school). So I was actually super bored in my last year of high school having no-one to hang out with after school. I remember I was doing a part-time job and watching the whole series of ‘Prison Break’, as an excuse to “practice my English”. Anyway, you see how we prioritized so much on getting accepted for universities that “education” became as more like “studying to get into good universities.” The value placed upon the names of universities is so strong that it gives great advantages (and disadvantages) when you are searching for your career.

I personally want to call this good education = good job theory. Not just Japan, in the field of international development, education is always a crucial topic and I believe good education -> good job theory is the dominant discourse. I will discuss the relationship between education and international development in my Theme 4: “Education x Play = Gateway for international development”.

So, what I wanted to mention in this article is that good education -> good job theory is a dominant discourse. But I want you to think carefully: is this how education should be interpreted? What I have realized especially during these two years of experience in working as a field worker in Peru is that I have started thinking in a different perspective. To clarify, I am not denying the importance of good education -> good job theory. Not at all. Indeed, it is crucial in our capitalist society. What I like to address is that I feel there is another theory have been overlooked or undervalued in the shade of the presence of good education -> good job theory. That is, what I call good education -> good human theory. I will further discuss this topic in my next article part 2 of Theme 1 “Education”. I believe it will be something will be worth reading!

And, thank you for reading my first article!

 

 

My ASB Peru Experience – Alec Popa

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

My name is Alec Popa. I’m a third year Medical Sciences student from Western University and I participated on ASB Peru in May of 2018.

 

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ            From the beginning it became very clear that the overall theme of this trip was community. On our first day we met the amazing team at Nexos Comunitarios, who immediately made us feel part of their family. They also became our teachers, providing workshops throughout the trip and turning this ASB into an excellent cultural learning experience as well. Our adventure took place in the small town of Cuncani. Cuncani is a very isolated and underprivileged town. Their survival is dependent on the strong community they’ve created. And we were welcomed into this community the moment we arrived. When we arrived at the school where we would be staying for the week all of the children were lined up waiting to welcome us. They ASB May 2018-11introduced themselves and we made a high-five tunnel. It was a very fun way to break the ice and introduce us to the community. What I believe sets this ASB experience apart from the rest is how close we grew to the community. In a typical day I would wake up early, and the first thing I would do is hike one of the many incredible mountain peaks surrounding the village. Then we would start our day in the kindergarten class playing games and making art with the young children. Next, we ate a lunch that was prepared for us by the mothers of the community, made using ingredients pooled together by all the families in Cuncani. Many of these mothers had to walk an hour or more to make lunch for their children and for us, and they do it every day. I was very moved by the difficult lengths these mothers go through to ensure their child has a healthy lunch and I was very touched to be included in their lunch time preparations. This experience was ASB May 2018-4an excellent lesson in humanity. These people who have so little still work so hard and spend every last resource they have to improve the lives of their children. After lunch we moved to either a grade 3/4 or grade 5/6 classroom where we worked with the children on a science project. Funding for these schools is relatively low and as such science is a difficult subject to teach. We were able to bring with us inexpensive paper microscopes called “foldscopes.” With our foldscopes we taught the children about germs and they were even able to visualize them for the first time in their lives.

 

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

Our trip was defined by a sense of community unlike any I had ever experienced before and an unrelenting work ethic in the face of adversity. A week in isolation and seeing how much these parents do for their children put so much in perspective. Throughout the trip we had excellent group reflections on technology, privilege, wealth, education, health and so many other topics that we take for granted living in Canada. Overall, the trip was incredibly rewarding and we felt part of a larger project that makes a real difference in the lives of these children. If you wish to learn about another part of the world and volunteer for a truly community-driven organization then this is the trip for you.

Alternative Spring Break with Nexos Comunitarios – Colleen Martin

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My name is Colleen from Western University and I was a participant of Western University’s Alternate Spring Break (ASB) in May 2018. During that time, we travelled to Peru and had the privilege of working with Nexos Comunitarios! Alternate Spring Break is a program that travels worldwide and aims to teach participants about the community’s’ ways of life, common challenges, understanding their long-term goals and engaging with community members. This means each experience is different and uniquely rewarding.

 

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

During my time in Peru, we spent a week in Cuncani working with children as young as 2 up to age 12 to teach the importance of washing your hands. We did this by teaching the kids about germs through a play, asking them to draw what they thought germs looked like and using foldscopes (paper microscopes) to show what germs actually look like for them to compare results. Once we had samples under the foldscopes the kids were eagerly looking over each other’s shoulders to get a turn and see the germs. It was a relief to see the project go over well because this was the first time it had been done in the community. After this project, our ASB group went to community members homes to see how they live. Both projects had reports written to communicate our findings that Nexos will use as they continue with their initiatives. Our community partner, Nexos also provided us with cultural workshops to understand Peruvian culture and society better. This really amplified the cultural significance of the trip.

ASB May 2018-7This trip allows participants to gain invaluable learning opportunities from beingoutside the classroom and in a new community, being immersed in a different culture and working with a community partner to be a helping hand in the initiatives. Each initiative is based on current community needs which makes this trip so beneficial to the community.

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

Cuncani 2018 – Suhaima Tunio


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I want to sincerely thank Nexos Comunitarios for allowing me to participate in life-changing service-learning opportunity in Peru. This experience was a challenging one, but it was extremely rewarding. Thanks to the enduring partnership that Nexos has with the community and the community-driven nature of the organization, we were able to assist this community in promoting health among their school-aged children.

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ
Students from Western University, including me, volunteered at a school in Cuncani. Cuncani is an extremely impoverished, isolated, and rural area without hot-water access and the nearest town being a 2-hour trek away. Through working with the children living in this region, I got the chance to apply my learning about global health, health promotion, and the social determinants of health from my lectures at Western University. I watched all of my textbook learning come to life and I understood the importance of so many different health concepts.

peru - 1 (58)This program was developed using certain facets of the health promotion framework including process documentation and effective program development. I was thrilled to have taken part in promoting health education and teaching the children about germs, health, and hygiene. Without the long-standing partnerships between Western University and Nexos Comunitarios, I would have never realized that such a beautiful community like Cuncani existed and that I could play a role, albeit small, in the health promotion of this community.

When we were there, we improved certain hygienic practices such as hand-washing and introduced low-cost microscopes, called Foldscopes, to allow children to explore the microscopic mechanisms of germ-spread. We were also involved in the pedagogical documentation of these children in order to track their development and learning. Finally, we developed marketing materials (such as photographs and testimonials) to promote tourism in Cuncani so that hikers and other adventurers who are exploring the Andes can stay in the houses of these families to help generate income within the families.

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Furthermore, I realized how difficult it was for me to live in the mountains, yet how accustomed such young children were to this area. It was truly inspiring to see their resilience towards the altitude and the lack of hot water. This experience taught me that so many different factors can play such a huge role in the health of a community such as the living environment, community social support, isolation, food-availability, and education. All these components must come together and be considered when aiming for health promotion.
Another notable feature of this community was that these families were almost entirely self-sufficient. Living in such an isolated and rural area, they had adapted to their environment by making their own clothes and farming their own food, in which many traditions were passed on since the spectacular culture of the Incan empire. Most of them had even made their own houses! They all owned animals including alpacas, chicken, and sheep and they utilized their resources in any way that they could. Manure was repurposed as fuel for the fire and also fertilizer for farming. The community in Cuncani taught me that the human-spirit is incredibly strong, and that people can tame the mountains to make it their home.

MIGUEL ANGEL ARREATEGUI RODRIGUEZ

After returning to Lima and going to a memorial regarding Peru’s recent political history, we learned about the horrific genocides from terrorist groups against Peruvian aboriginal communities. Coming out, I felt that this paralleled some of the aboriginal issues that Canada deals with. This experience further highlighted the importance to support Cuncani due to its aboriginal roots and the systematic isolation. In this way, I feel that I learned more about Canadian history and realized that human history is extremely similar worldwide.
This service-learning opportunity was truly remarkable and has allowed me to grow both academically and personally. Not only was I able to use what I had learned in class to assist in a community-driven project, ASB Peru helped me to learn valuable lessons about gratitude, resilience, and cultural competence.