A Student Development Experience in a Development Context

The Real Voyage of Discovery Consists Not of Seeking New Landscapes, But in Having New Eyes

Resisting the colonial gaze?

In a nutshell, that’s what Badili Mtizamo is all about: changing the way we see things, feel things and do things.

A few years ago, CPAR and the World W.I.S.E. Resource Centre at the International Centre for Students (University of Manitoba) started working together and started to engage university students in its annual study tour to Africa. Students have visited northern Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania, getting a crash course in community development, the work that organizations like CPAR do, and the challenges that people throughout the region face, and overcome, in order to imagine and build better and healthier communities. Last year, CPAR and the World W.I.S.E. Resource Centre at the UofM decided to adapt the program to the needs of students who were interested in a more transformative experience, one that would allow them to think about their role as global citizens while providing ‘service’ in a cross-cultural context. The result: Ntchito Yabwino – A Service Learning Project in Malawi. Three students, including Eric and Lauren from the Faculty of Arts, and Jill in the Faculty of Law, travelled to Malawi for six weeks to do some ‘good work’ (ntchito yabwino in Chichewa) while reflecting deeply, deliberately, and learning about themselves in the process. Their thoughts and insights were chronicled in a blog of their own: http://ontheroadinmalawi.wordpress.com

This year, the students will spend six weeks in the Karatu District of the Arusha Region in northern Tanzania. They will also travel to Bunda, on the shores of Lake Victoria, and spend time travelling trough the Ngorongoro conservation area and the Serengeti.

Rooted in the belief that many students learn best when they are able to apply classroom-based learning to real world situations and experiences, service learning combines a variety of approaches that will enable the participants to not only spot differences, but to learn how to deal with differences.  The program is designed to place equal emphasis on motion and motionlessness, giving them the opportunity to forge and construct relationships that will challenge them and trouble them, and where their own sense of identity can be reconfigured through an intensely personal experience.  CPAR and the UofM refer to this experiment in service learning as a student development experience in a development context. They will learn so much about the work that communities in Karatu are doing, and they will be enriched by the wisdom they gain from six weeks in Africa working alongside their new freinds, counterparts and mentors. But we also know that they are dedicated to sharing their own skills and talents, to being creative and committed, and to finding ways to bridge the cultural divide, and to do much more than just having a “neutral impact”.

Expectations are high all-round – and that’s a good thing!

We hope that you will take the time to come back and visit this blog on a regular basis and find out more about what Katherine, Scott, Mallory, and Jacklynn are learning from their hosts at CPAR Tanzania, from UMATU, and what kind of experiences they are able to share with the communities they encounter while visiting Karatu and the surrounding wards.

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