Omprakash/AM Cross-Cultural Workshop – Part II: About the Conferences

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Read Part I  The first day of the conference: My presentation was the first of the day. Titled ‘Challenges for NGOs and Volunteers’, it proposed a look at the need for organisations to develop, along with educational programmes and training, projects that empower community members in a way that they can develop sustainable activities on the long term, focussing on the development of a social and supportive economy based on cooperativism. Every day it was part of the itinerary to divide up into small groups which enabled us to analyse and exchange detailed topics and issues. These were then shared amongst the other guests in the form of a report. The topics of the small groups had three objectives; some made short presentations about tools to improve the educational programs of the organisations. Other topics prompted wider reflections with regards to the work which we do and its’ social impact. The final objective of these small groups was the topic of the portrayal of the volunteers and the ways in which to obtain mutual benefit from these experiences.

Some examples of ‘Small Group Sessions’ Building a Classroom Environment for Multiple Intelligences (Anna Hergt- http://abriendomentes.org/): This small group session will be about the different ways individuals learn and retain information, and the importance of creating a classroom environment that encompasses all learning paths, and maximizes the understanding of new ideas through differentiated instruction. Story Literacy (Sarah Littlefield- http://learnwithus.com/ ): This small group session will focus on the highly effective technique of teaching English through personal narrative. Practical guidance will enable each participant to use the method in their own teaching and training work and examples and case studies will be shown/discussed.

Volunteering: The Good, Bad & Ugly (Lacey Worel - http://omprakash.org/): This small group session will be offered six times throughout the week, and all participants are encouraged to join in. This group discussion will help all participants engage in the main workshop theme: How can we make cross-cultural interactions mutually beneficial and mutually educational? 

Second day: (Eco)Sustainable Education (Jenni Schneiderman- http://www.agcchicago.org/): This presentation will share stories of sustainable operations, curriculum, and culture from a green public primary school community in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Child Protection (Liz Wilson- http://www.skipperu.org/): This presentation will help shed light on the questions, “What is abuse?” “What makes children vulnerable to abuse?” “What are some cultural differences and the legal frameworks used when protecting children from abuse?” and “What are the SKIP reporting procedures?”

Third day: Guatemalan Experiences with Social Tourism (Ernesto Guadalupe Pos- http://www.streetschool.net/): This presentation will focus on social tourism in Guatemala. Real-life examples and experiences will be shared. The organization named “Escuela de la calle” Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Johannah Waite- http://www.asociacioncrear.org): This presentation will encourage learning about the garbage we produce and how to use the 3 R's (reduce, reuse and recycle) for creative solutions.  

Fourth day: Bottle Schools and Environmental Education (Heenal Rajani - http://hugitforward.org/): This presentation will explain the history and benefits of bottle schools, to explain the process of building a “bottle school” and to show how this can link into a program of environmental education. Gender Violence (Laetitia Deweer- http://www.cepiacostarica.org/): This presentation will address the following topics: 1) concept of gender and socialization, 2) masculinity and femininity, 3) gender violence, and 4) prevention of violence. Fifth day: Their Own Voice: Student-controlled technology use and storytelling for deep understanding (Cynthia Hunt & Tashi Thokmet- http://www.health-inc.org/): This presentation will describe how a remote Himalayan village and HEALTH Inc volunteers established a school computer room, introduced the technology to the students and started using storytelling learning unit. It will also describe how it now uses this methodology to let students interact with international partner schools. It will then have participants try it themselves, producing their own flip story and sharing it with conference participants. Language Learning Activities (Amanda Culver- http://www.uwindsor.ca/): This workshop will provide educators with games and activities that can be used to introduce a second language to students. These activities can be used as icebreakers and hook activities for all elementary students of all abilities and skill levels. Participants can expect to be up and moving around and being a little bit silly. Closing… I sincerely believe that the people and organizations which participated in this conference have the ability to understand, spread the word and help to improve the reality of a world which is declining ecologically, socially and politically. I believe that I have met people who are capable of challenging social problems instead of allowing them to become invisible once again. As I said ending my presentation,

“Other World is possible.”

One with social justice and equally for everyone.

We just need to build it together.

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