Serve Well Blog

Entries tagged 'Education'

2.26.14

Little Things Console Us Because Little Things Afflict Us
by Nikkita Oliver - Krista Colleague

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Intercultural Development, Law, Arts & Culture, Community, Education, Global Citizenship, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Intercultural Development, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

Little things console us because little things afflict us.
- Pascal

 

I recently attended the "RACE: Are We So Different?" exhibit at the Seattle Center as part of a Krista Foundation outing with the Krista Colleague community. Once inside, I found myself at a unique display including a binder full of notecards where many visitors expressed both contempt and reverence for sports mascots.

A number of the commenters self-identified as Native, illuminating the trauma and harm that sports mascots inflict on them, their tribes, and communities. Juxtaposed to these heartfelt truths were the thoughts of those who see no problem with the manner in which sports teams have co-opted Native cultural images and in many instances commercialized the most stereotypical Native images. As if the dialogue were not complex enough, there were those who self-identified as Native who took no issue with the mascots and maybe even saw other issues as more concerning.

One comment stood out vividly. A member of the Tlingit tribe described what they believed to be the gravest issues facing Native communities. They discussed the life expectancy of Native males and the drop-out rate of Native teens, stating, "These issues are far more important than sports team mascots." To many, Native mascots do not seem like a big issue, but often it is the things that seem the smallest that have the greatest impact.

As a brown person in the white institution of law I constantly deal with small nuanced forms of racism that exist because of larger ones. The larger ones will continue to exist because we are afraid and/or unwilling to deal with the smaller forms of racism.

There is an overall acceptance of the co-optation of cultural assets in the United States with disregard for the impact on communities and people. Additionally, rarely do the owners and creators of those cultural assets receive any sort of recognition or payment for the use of their image even when the image is being used for profit. This process further contributes to the damage done to a community or cultural groups psyche and continues to propel a negative and oppressive relationship between the "minority" and the "majority"1.

While some non-Native people may not see the problem, and may even point to to those Native people who take no issue with it to legitimate their own point of view, the reality is there are Native peoples who are offended by the use of their cultural assets as mascots. When considering racial and ethnic concerns that may seem minute, it is important to remember that big things are often made of smaller things. A small cut can very easily become an infection and a small change can be the catalyst needed to spark a big change.

Dr. John M. Perkins speaks of these little things in his work. When I was in college I sat in a room of young leaders at Seattle Pacific University eager to make change in the world. He told us the key to community development is understanding that the most obvious problems are often symptoms of a larger underlying illness. He told us, "rarely is the solution to the most obvious struggle the root cause of the problem". He encouraged us to consider the small and often times overlooked concerns, especially if those are the concerns the community is point us towards.

He then shared with us this story:

A team of community developers arrived in a neighborhood. They interviewed the people, did research and prepared a list of things they believed the community needed to solve. This list had hundreds of items ranked from the most important to the least. The community members' response to the community developers was that the rat problem was the most important issue to address. The rat problem was ranked in the lowest portion of the list the developers created. Despite their own ideas, the community developers listened to the neighborhood and addressed the rat problem first. As the rats disappeared so did most of the list.

Dr. Perkins shared this story to remind us of two key principles in community development: The small things matter and a community knows itself better than an outside community developer.

At the University of Washington Law School, I listen to people daily discuss our systems and struggles - rarely reflecting on their own role in a problematic system. They hardly ever consider the importance and value of community voice and in particular those communities that are marginalized and disenfranchised. In these spaces there are few people of color, and like those who shared their opinions in the binder at the race exhibit, we do not always agree on the solution. This often becomes a tool of division, co-optation, and/or further marginalization of those voices who speak in opposition to the majority opinion.

Listening is of the utmost importance in addressing any and every situation. If we do not first listen, we will not know how to act in ways that promote wholeness and reconciliation. Too often in U.S. culture do we rely on our formal education (and our privilege) as clout for why we should lead or be in charge. We are not very good at following those who have less formal education, though the community members have far more experience and knowledge regarding their community.

Mascots may seem like a small issue, but when we consider our generational memories of historic racial violence and present afflictions we can see that the psyches of people of color (and white people) have been damaged by big things sustained by small consistent actions and inactions. This small act is the continued poking and prodding on a large wound and emblematic of how we often devalue other people and their cultures. Mascots may not seem like a big deal in light of drop-out rates and mass incarceration, but they are small piece of the puzzle in addressing the root causes of both individual and institutional racism. Our willingness and humility to eliminate the "small" things are a way we show our love and respect for humanity and lead us towards addressing the "larger" struggles.

I believe that we would better serve each other and society if we learned to see multiple solutions, no matter how big or small, as viable and equally necessary; to address the mascots, drop-out rates and mass incarceration all at once.

The work of reconciliation is not easy and often happens in the least obvious places. Reconciliation, like a journey, happens one step at time; sometimes in small steps and sometimes in large strides. We often do not know the value of our small steps, but without them we would not have made it through the journey. Listening and acting on the small things makes the big changes possible.

 

1 The use of quotations around "majority" and "minority" is to signify an important nuance in the use of these terms. It is not to say one group is more major and the other more minor, but in this instance referring to specifically numbers or the size of the population of people. The majority being the larger quantitative group and minority being a smaller quantitative group. In the United States the use of these terms in this manner is appropriate, but in a place like South Africa, where the minority (Dutch/white South Africans) were in power and the majority (Native/black South Africans) were not, these terms must be used differently. 

3.9.13

Climate Change Evangelist
by Zachary Pullin, Communications Coordinator

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Education, Environment, Faith/Theological Exploration

Click here for more information about the 2013 Krista Foundation Conference 

 

 

My morning rush to catch the #10 bus was familiar choreography in my daily journey to get to the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship headquarters. It was on the bus that I was inspired to think about the 2013 Krista Foundation Conference keynote speaker, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, professor at Texas Tech. I consider myself a nerd. Neil Degrasse Tyson is my Michael Jordan, and Carl Sagan is my Ricky Martin. So having Dr. Katharine Hayhoe be a part of our conference is welcome news!

Katharine Hayhoe is considered an emerging beacon of knowledge, grace, and moxie for her ability to engage in meaningful dialogue around climate change and her faith. She grew up surrounded by the ideals and values of Evangelical Christian missionary parents in South America. Many have been surprised at her ability to possess two unique identities. Katharine is an atmospheric scientist whom also studies climate change, is part of a Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and has authored books and articles communicating the beautiful connection between faith and science. 

As the bus wove its way down 45th, we passed a sign that read, "You watch the road, we'll watch your home!" At first, I was nonplussed by the advertisement. But, I got to thinking about the idea that sometimes it's easier to just forget things and focus on what's right in front of us. Dr. Katharine Hayhoe talks a lot about the nature in which we analyze climate change - about how it's important to consider climate change in a more accessible way. More personal. More right here.

In the PBS documentary series, The Secret Life of Scientists, Katharine said, "When we think about climate change, usually the first thing we think about are the Polar Bears up in the Arctic losing their ice. But, it doesn't really matter to most of us at the personal level. So, what I study is what climate changes means to us - right here, where we live!" 

I look forward to exploring the implications of our local actions in how it effects climate change overall. Most importantly, I look forward to examining how my faith is intricately woven into the science of climate change. There is a poetic way to bridge the differences between faith and science and Katharine Hayhoe is adequately knowledgable about how to do that! 

 

 

cLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE 2013 KRISTA CONFERENCE!

 


Zachary Pullin is the Communications Coordinator at the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship. He was a Peace Corps volunteer from 2010 to 2012 in Belize, Central America teaching organization development, and was also a literacy educator, braille tutor, creative writing teacher, and founded Belize's first LGBTQ support group. His most recent role was as the Logistics Coordinator on the 2012 Soulforce Equality Ride. Prior to that he worked as the Communications Director of the NATIVE Project and a development intern with TOMS Shoes. Zachary loves going on jogs around Green Lake, eating apples and bananas, singing apples and bananas, and baking apple pie and banana bread.

 

 

6.8.12

2012 Keynote Video: Krista Foundation Conference

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Community, Education, Environment, Faith/Theological Exploration, Global Citizenship, Sustaining Service


conference logoThis Keynote Address: Roots of Hope, was given Saturday, May 26th, 2012, at The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship's Annual Conference.

Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is Associate Professor of Theological and Social Ethics for Seattle University's Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Environmental Studies Program, and School of Theology and Ministry. Her current book project concerns faith-based response to systemic evils such as racism, economic exploitation, and ecological devastation.

The Krista Foundation 2012 Conference theme was Growing Service Leadership: Rooted for Life. Over the weekend, young adults in our program and intergenerational mentors spent time learning together how to develop and maintain healthy roots amidst the challenges of service and transition.

4.20.12

Service Leadership Update- A Voice for Justice

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Arts & Culture, Community, Education, Faith/Theological Exploration, Poverty: Urban US & International, Sustaining Service

nikkita oliver, photo by Contina Kemp"Justice, like people, has living impact" writes Nikkita Oliver ('08), who currently teaches poetry, debate and biblical leadership, and runs the chapel program at the Seattle Urban Academy (SUA). Serving for two years as a chaplain and service provider at the King County Youth Detention Center, Nikkita accompanied youth struggling in the system, and listened to their stories. "...The law should work to the benefit of the people,"writes Nikkita, "In my experience, I have not seen the law work as such." These troubling encounters have strengthened her resolve to bring legal literacy and empowerment to her south Seattle community.

 

Colleagues Nikkita Oliver '08 and Laura Wright '11She has a track record of developing community youth. An active musician and spoken word artist, Nikkita facilitates community spaces for youth to give voice to their world. A member of the 2011 KF Conference planning team, also she used her artistic gifts to lead the worship service. This month, Nikkita received the exciting news that she earned a full scholarship to attend the University of Washington Law School. The KF community celebrates Nikkita as she takes the next step on her journey of service leadership.

2.12.12

Sharon London | 2012 GCA Honoree -- Environment | The Krista Foundation

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Krista Foundation Press, Service In The News, Environmental Projects, Community, Education, Environment, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life

Sharon LondonThe Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship announces the selection of Sharon London to be honored as Global Citizen Award recipient for embodying a life of service leadership in the area of Environment.

Sharon London, Strategic Initiatives Director at EarthCorps, is a leader in the pioneering field of "citizen science." Drawing upon global service experiences that shaped her understanding of environmental and economic disparities, London empowers community leaders and young adults from the United States and more than 75 countries to do scientifically grounded environmental education and restoration. London's service leadership inspires local citizens to become active stakeholders in local parks and natural areas. Their efforts are making a ripple effect with communities across Puget Sound becoming equipped to assess, advocate for and care for their local natural areas.

"Whether training young adult Corps members, partnering her Jewish faith community with EarthCorps to plant trees, or opening her home to international volunteers, Sharon London embodies the Krista Foundation values of service leadership to create a sustainable Puget Sound and planet," says Krista Foundation Executive Director Valerie Norwood. "Sharon's service journey is an example to the Krista Foundation's young adult Colleagues of leveraging service experiences into a life of service leadership."

London is one of three mid-career professionals from the Puget Sound region to be honored by the Krista Foundation for exemplifying the qualities of Global Citizenship: service leadership that creates community and sustainable futures for people and the environment.

The 2012 Krista Foundation Global Citizen Award recipients will be formally announced and honored at a public event on Sunday, March 4th, 7:00 pm in the Campion Ballroom at Seattle University. The three honorees demonstrate the event theme: "The Ripple Effect: Service changes you. Service changes the world." Tickets for the event are available by contacting The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship at 206-382-7888 or nissana@kristafoundation.org. RSVP required for this event.

Global Citizen Award recipients are selected for demonstrating the Krista Foundation values: intercultural competence, adaptive leadership, young adult empowerment, respect for spiritual values, global-local connection, and service as a way of life. The other 2012 Global Citizen Award recipients to be honored are:

Trise Moore, Family and Community Partnership Advocate, Federal Way School District (Urban United States)
Joseph Whinney, Founder & CEO, Theo Chocolate (Developing World)

About the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship: Founded in 1999, The Krista Foundation honors the life and vision of Krista Hunt Ausland who died at age 25 while volunteering with her husband in rural Bolivia. Through mentoring, a colleague community and re-integration services, the Krista Foundation helps young adults fully understand and employ the learnings from their service experience. A service year, when nurtured, becomes a life of service leadership. The Krista Foundation provides ongoing program connections for more than 200 Krista Colleagues and offers program development resources and services, including The Global Citizen journal, for local universities and volunteer service organizations.

Link to the Ripple Effect Event Page

Link to the KF Facebook Event Page

Reflection by Krista Colleague Allie May

Allie May"When I came to Seattle from my corporate desk job in Nashville, TN 4 years ago this month, it was honestly not with the intention of building up my "life resumé." I thought, I'll take a break from looking at a computer screen to plant some trees with EarthCorps, then I'll go back to my graphic design career having done good and feeling refreshed. Only looking back now do I recognize that EarthCorps, which connected me to the Krista Foundation, was going to be the place where I learned that doing good (aka service) and feeling refreshed (aka being inspired!) would become constants in my personal and professional life that could not be switched on and off.

Doing 14 months of environmental service, which at times simply looked like crawling in circles under blackberry bushes in the rain, became my way of understanding how good intentions were turned into good actions. I learned that actions, big or small, were the key to moving forward. This model was not something for me to start and stop when convenient; service was meant to be a way of Iife (Krista Foundation, you're on to something!). We can initiate change, and become leaders, by participating on diverse teams and teaching our skills to others along the way.

I recognized that a necessary piece of leadership was the ability to connect with others, and it is people like my coworker Sharon London who have shown me how time spent with others is always an opportunity to know their unique gifts and experiences. And that by knowing ourselves and others we can form connections in new and unknown ways, allowing for mutual inspiration and action to take place. There were times in my own service journey when my good intentions were not enough to keep me going, but as soon as I became connected to a greater community of peers, resources, teachers, and mentors, I found I was being held up, inspired and carried along.

I am thankful for the perspectives that the Krista Foundation and my peers at EarthCorps like Sharon have opened my eyes to. Service will continue to spread through every part of my life, and by connecting myself with others, our stories and inspirations will spread and spread until we are all linked and moving forward together."

After 2 years as an EarthCorps service volunteer (Corps Member and Crew Leader), Allie May is now Development and Communications Coordinator at EarthCorps in Seattle. She is an active participant and volunteer with the Krista Foundation's mentoring community.

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2.12.12

Trise Moore | Krista Foundation GCA- Urban United States

Destiny Williams, The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Krista Foundation Press, Urban America, Community, Education, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Poverty: Urban US & International, Sustaining Service

Trise Moore Krista Foundation GCA Urban U.S.The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship announces the selection of Trise Moore to be honored with a Global Citizen Award for embodying a life of service leadership in the area of Urban United States.

Moore leads the increasingly diverse Federal Way School District's community partnership initiatives to improve student achievement. Implementing innovative strengths-based approaches, Moore navigates intercultural and adaptive challenges, dismantling barriers and empowering parents to become effective partners in student academic success. Moore, who became Family and Community Partnership Advocate for the Federal Way School District in 2003, previously received national honors as chair of the City of Federal Way's Diversity Commission.

"The Krista Foundation is delighted to honor Trise Moore for her service-centered leadership in the diverse urban context of Federal Way," says Krista Foundation Executive Director Valerie Norwood. "Service that transforms communities is not a one-way path of giver to receiver. It must be mutually transformative. Trise leverages the insights of parents and other key stakeholders, together creating a model of family engagement that is gaining national recognition and making a positive ripple effect in Federal Way and beyond."

Moore is one of three mid-career professionals from the Puget Sound region to be honored by the Krista Foundation for exemplifying the qualities of Global Citizenship: service leadership that creates community and sustainable futures for people and the environment.

The 2012 Krista Foundation Global Citizen Award recipients will be formally announced and honored at a public event on Sunday, March 4th, 7:00 pm in the Campion Ballroom at Seattle University. The three honorees demonstrate the event theme: "The Ripple Effect: Service changes you. Service changes the world." Tickets for the event are available by contacting The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship at 206-382-7888 or nissana@kristafoundation.org. This is an RSVP-only event.

Global Citizen Award recipients are selected for demonstrating the Krista Foundation values: intercultural competence, adaptive leadership, young adult empowerment, respect for spiritual values, global-local connection, and service as a way of life. The other 2012 Global Citizen Award recipients to be honored are:
Sharon London, Strategic Initiatives Director, EarthCorps (Environment)
Joseph Whinney, Founder & CEO, Theo Chocolate (Developing World)

About the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship: Founded in 1999, The Krista Foundation honors the life and vision of Krista Hunt Ausland who died at age 25 while volunteering with her husband in rural Bolivia. Through mentoring, a colleague community and re-integration services, the Krista Foundation helps young adults fully understand and employ the learnings from their service experience. A service year, when nurtured, becomes a life of service leadership. The Krista Foundation provides ongoing program connections for more than 200 Krista Colleagues and offers program development resources and services, including The Global Citizen journal, for local universities and volunteer service organizations.

Link to KF Ripple Effect Event Page

Link to KF Ripple Effect Facebook Page

Krista Colleague endorsement for Trise Moore by Carmetrus Parker

As a former AmeriCorps volunteer and Krista Colleague, I am so happy to see that Trise Moore is being honored with the Krista Foundation's 2012 Global Citizen Award in the area of Urban United States. I value the tremendous work Trise Moore is doing in Federal Way as a Family Partnership Advocate and I applaud Federal Way School District for taking steps in engaging parents.

As an AmeriCorps volunteer in the urban setting of Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood, I provided in class assistance to students and coordinated an after school program focused on literacy development in early readers. The after school program was housed at Trinity Presbyterian Church and the primary focus was of the program was on students reading below grade level. It became apparent to me that my students needed more than just an after school reading program and I soon found myself in the uncomfortable position of being an advocate.

I did not understand what being an education advocate meant. I was confronted by frustrated parents that truly wanted the best for their child. Some parents felt they were not getting their concern heard, let alone addressed. Others didn't see school as a safe place and turned to the "girl at the church" as a confidante. Many more respected the program and viewed the church as a place of integrity. Whatever the reason, parents came to me. I soon began having conversations with teachers and principals that ended in uncomfortable eye and leg shifting.

I began to ask hard questions. It seemed the more questions I asked, the fewer answers I received. I began to research and seek answers independently. I discovered resources that I never knew existed! As a parent, I soon realized how ill equipped I had been to advocate for my own children. I was not only ill equipped, but ill informed. I began sharing information on student and parent rights and responsibilities. I requested information and brochures from the Education Ombudsman. I referred parents to advocacy trainings and encouraged them to contact their assigned school director when a situation could not be resolved at the school level.

In AmeriCorps, my primary function was to serve when and where I was needed most. I never imagined that I would become an advocate for families, yet I am proud and honored for being called into this role. I recognize that there was a deficit within the system and a need that was not being fulfilled.

It is obvious that Trise Moore has a heart for families and a true desire to serve her community through her role as Family and Community Partnership Advocate. Her vision for family engagement resonated with me because it shifts from blaming parents to empowering them. I have often felt that I was not a partner in my children's education. Trise Moore is committed to ensuring that all parents have an opportunity to KC Carmetrus Parkerparticipate and, ultimately, become partners in educating their children. In a society focused on individual achievement it is refreshing to see a collective approach to ensuring success for all. Focusing on family engagement in our schools is an approach that is often not a priority in public education. The benefits are countless, as issues of the ever-widening achievement gap can be more readily addressed, and increased parental involvement is an invaluable resource to students and teachers alike.

Hats off to Trise Moore and her colleagues in Federal Way for prioritizing and focusing on family engagement, and recognizing the ripple effect it has on student achievement.

Carmetrus Parker is a 2009 Krista Colleague, Program Coordinator at Tacoma Urban League, and Director of Community Relations and TAP at Trinity Presbyterian Church.

12.24.11

Salmon in Ouagadougou

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Developing Nations, Community, Education

How did a Salmon make it to Ouagadougou?

Moving somewhere new is a big transition. Moving to Ouagadougou (West Africa) could be an even bigger one. In October, that's what new Krista Colleague Neah Ortman did. As a service volunteer with the Mennonite Central Committee, she has been making her new home with a host family in Burkina Faso and starting a new chapter in her service journey.

Filled with passion to serve effectively, Neah has been flooded with with questions. She writes, "I think the biggest challenge I find myself facing right now is navigating my role, defining what being a teacher really means. I have my North American lens/perspective/expectations that is rubbing up against the Burkinabe culture/role of teacher." As Neah navigates her transition to accompany the residents of Ouagadougou, the Krista Foundation community accompanies her—providing support and encouragement on her journey toward leadership, deeper faith, and intercultural competence.

In a recent blog post, Neah expressed her appreciation: "...Perhaps most unique reason why I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be is the Krista Foundation. The KF allowed me to connect with a whole community of people who either have already committed a year or more of service or are, like me, in the process of doing so. They are a source of inspiration, particularly Krista herself. Yesterday I got a few letters/notes from fellow Krista Colleagues, and I could feel their presence with me, here, in my room in Ouagadougou." Krista Colleague mentors have enjoyed creating cards for New Colleagues, remembering how much it makes a difference to get tangible gestures of care during formal service.

Neah describes a particularly special card from Sarah Fry, a 2009 Colleague who helped restore a local watershed in Eastern Washington where native salmon spawn and struggle to survive. "Sarah and I met at the Krista Foundation conference Memorial Day weekend in Spokane. Although our relationship totaled a span of three days, I felt like I had known her for years, seriously. In times of struggle, which she was sure I would find myself in (how did she know?) she told me to remember the salmon—it is in its most trying season that it takes its most beautiful form."

Many of us resonate with this metaphor: during life's most trying times our faith and values are refined in life-shaping ways. Over the past 12 years, our experience with young adults has revealed that while the first several months of service are challenging, the transition after formal service can often be the most trying of all.

Your support allows the Foundation community to be present to Neah and her fellow Colleagues in service, but also long after her service term—helping her understand and employ her learnings and hone skills to strengthen her future contributions to society.

A service year, when nurtured, becomes a life of service leadership.

Neah ends her blog by noting that while she is grateful for the letters from Sarah and other Colleagues, "you are all here with me in spirit." Through your own commitment to service, and through your involvement in the Krista Foundation, each of you plays a role. You accompany Neah in Ouagadougou, Mike doing urban leadership development in South Seattle, and Katherine doing policy advocacy in Washington D.C. as they make service a way of life.

On behalf of the Krista Colleague community, THANK YOU for your partnership this year in transforming service experiences into lives of service leadership.

Wishing you encouragement for the joyful and trying times on your service journey

—The KF staff

Link to Neah's Blog: lifeinouaga

1.26.11

Greetings!

The Krista Foundation | Service In The News, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Arts & Culture, Community, Education, Global Citizenship, Intercultural Development

serve well blogNo. Seriously. Greetings!

Have you noticed the world is full of thousands of spoken and unspoken ways to meet, greet, or just acknowledge someone?
In intercultural service assignments, whether in U.S. neighborhoods or international settings, we adapt to local ways of meeting somebody, entering a room, or just passing a stranger.

Watch this video prepared by 09 Colleague Brandon Adams, and be sure to post your short paragraph response below:

 

Here's some quick food for thought from Sean Rawson, a volunteer with Jesuit Volunteers International:

"Nicaraguans almost always greet everyone in a room upon entering, either individually or collectively as a group. This usually means a handshake or a cheek kiss for old friends or new acquaintances alike. Even if somebody enters a conversation or a meeting, he or she generally interjects at least a "Buenas tardes" to those present. To my North American-educated mind, this initially came off as extremely rude; I'd be having a conversation or even presenting some point in a workshop, and someone would walk in late with a public "Buenas!" distracting me and the rest of the group from whatever was being discussed. As time went on during my first few months here, I began to realize that this wasn't just a group of inconsiderate youth, but in fact a great example of the beauty of cultural diversity.

Anyhow, I've been working on learning from my Nicaraguan co-workers, friends and acquaintances to recognize that human relationships are worth taking a few seconds out of a busy schedule to make someone feel recognized."

How about you? Share a custom or a story about the greetings you've learned or observed in service.

(Comments may not post immediately, as they'll go through a moderator to prevent spam.)

 

 

11.18.10

Teach for America Coming to Puget Sound

Destiny Williams | Service In The News, Urban America, Education, Global Citizenship, Poverty: Urban US & International, Preparing To Serve, Sustaining Service

From cities to towns across the country, the national educational system is struggling, and people are trying different approaches to fix it. Of the growing numbers of college graduates looking to "give back" through meaningful service, some choose to serve in education, either as teachers or in after-school programs.  Teach for America (TFA), founded 20 years ago to address the achievement gap, is one program which places college graduates into paid teaching positions in struggling classrooms. TFA is in the middle of a major national expansion effort that has reached Puget Sound (Seattle & Federal Way).

A Seattle Times Article: "Teach for America seeks foothold in Seattle area" (Nov. 3, 2010) includes background and some opinions from various constituencies impacted by this shift.

A goal of the Krista Foundation is to encourage healthy dialogue and work toward best practices in the broad field of service volunteerism. Whether technically "volunteer" (unpaid/stipended) or vocational (paid), intercultural service should be done with care for the volunteer, and with care for the community where service is done. We appreciate the way TFA's model can be a platform to discuss best practices for service and vocational work by young adults who want to make a difference.

Quick summary of arguments:
Critics note:

  • TFA gives participants only 6 weeks of training before placing them into difficult classrooms.
  • TFA teachers flood a market where even certified teachers aren't getting hired, and then, after the 2-year stint, 2/3 move on, increasing staff turnover.
  • Former TFA teachers tend to have mixed feelings about the program, and site higher rates of burnout and disillusionment. (see NY Times Amanda Fairbanks, and "Teach for Awhile" Seattle Times 11.16.10, or)

Supporters note:

  • TFA teachers make up for not having a teaching credential by bringing vitality and innovation to help turn classrooms around, and site that students of TFA teachers perform as well as those with certified teachers.
  • TFA teachers take classes toward a certification, improving their skills as they work. TFA is one of several non-traditional programs for teacher certification.
  • Some teachers later move into leadership roles in schools and school districts, impacting educational policy.

 

Read the article for more.

Also consider reading Taking Care: The Quest for an Ethical and Mutual Approach to Service, an article by the Krista Foundation's Executive Director, Valerie Norwood.

Are you connected to or passionate about this issue? We welcome and value your experience and reflections. Please post your (moderated) comments below.