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Empowering collaborative communities

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Four ways parents can promote global awareness without leaving the country

 Our local communities are becoming more diverse at the same time as our world is becoming more interconnected. In 2013, international immigration to the US reached an all time high of 41.3 million immigrants. International migration to the US in the past has been mostly European countries with similar cultural backgrounds as mainstream US: white, Christian, Western values. But immigration today is mostly from Latin America and Asia, creating more diversity of cultures in the US. Globally, information and communication technologies are becoming more widely accessible with 7.2 Internet users worldwide, also an all time high. These technologies allow for instantaneous exchange of information across the globe.

Preparing our children to live and work in a globally connected society requires intentionally promoting global awareness.  International travel is a great way to increase our children’s global awareness, but there are other ways. Parents can promote global awareness at home in four ways.

1. Appreciate Difference – Global awareness begins with an appreciation of differences. When something is different, teach your children to respond with curiosity instead of disgust. You can say to your children, “It’s not weird, it’s different.” Or “It’s not scary, it’s different.” Or “It’s not wrong, it’s different.” Teach them that different does not mean that it is wrong.

2. Read Widely – Providing your child with maps of other countries is a first step, but even better is providing your child with books that feature children from diverse cultures. Better yet is to provide your child with books that feature multiple perspectives within a culture, giving your child exposure to different ways of thinking and provides opportunities to talk about appreciation of differences. Some books that I recommend by age are:

Birth – 3: To Be a Kid; Global Babies; Bilingual board books

4-6: Our Global Community: What is a Community; National Geographic Kids Beginners’ World Atlas; Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain; Bilingual picture books; Planting the Trees of Kenya; Hi, Koo; Anasi the Spider; 

8-12: Who was Frida Kahlo; Who was Gandhi; Who was Nelson Mandela; Esperenza Rising; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon; The Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book; The Usborne Book of World History; The Usborne Book of Famous Women; Long Walk to Freedom picture book; Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace; Inside Out and Back Again; The Ancient Maya (True Books)

13-15:  House on Mango Street; I Am Malala (CD and jr. version available); The Little Prince; Beka Lamb; Persepolis; The Book Thief; A Long Walk to Water; Shabanu

16-19: Nectar in a Sieve; The Art of War; A Thousand Splendid Suns; Guns, Steel, and Germs; Joy Luck Club

3. Go to Cultural Events – Find events in your community that celebrate different cultures. My community features many different festivals, such as the Greek Festival, Chinese New Year, and Festival of Lights. It is important to go to events outside of your own culture so that your children can experience being in the minority. You want your children to get outside of their comfort zone, and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

4. Be Intentional About Friendships – Where you live, where you worship, where you socialize, where your children go to school, these are all decisions that you make for your family that will serve as the places where your children will make friends. If you want your child to have meaningful relationships with people from diverse backgrounds, then you have to have these relationships yourself. It’s not enough to take your child to places with diversity, you have to cultivate friendships by inviting people to your home or planning play dates. You need to make an effort to get to know people from other countries so that authentic friendships can form.

Promoting respect for others is something parents are probably doing anyway. Being intentional to promote respect for other countries while encouraging a healthy level of patriotism is the challenge for parents who want their child to be able to collaborate cross-culturally and to participate in solving global issues. Global awareness broadens their horizons and opens up a world of opportunity.

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Reducing violence against women

The statistics are devastating. 7 in 10 women have experienced physical violence. 1 in 4 women around the world has experienced rape or attempted rape. A woman is murdered by an intimate partner every day, EVERY DAY.  Between 1 and 2 million girls and women are being held as sex slaves RIGHT NOW. More statistics are reported by the UN http://www.un.org/en/women/endviolencInternational day for the elimination of violence against women November 25 logoe/situation.shtml

One of 4 the World’s programs is educating girls with the hope that education will empower them to be able to provide a livelihood for themselves, to make well-informed decisions, and to be better mothers.  The research also shows that education and empowerment helps reduce violence against women.  But the education cannot stop with just girls.  In order for violence against women to be eradicated, men must also be educated and feel empowered.  If women are empowered but not the men, that can backfire.  Men, feeling threatened, may lash out at women.  Research has shown this effect in response to micro loans to women in Southeast Asia and literacy education in the Americas. Remember Malala’s story? Educating women is not the magical pill.  It is not easy and it has severe, sometimes deadly, unintended consequences.

We have to change an entire human history (with few exceptions) of patriarchy. It seems impossible that this could change in my lifetime, but the institution of slavery collapsed.  That isn’t to say that racism is over or that there is not slavery today.  But, the world did change. The institution of imperialism collapsed.  That isn’t to say that there isn’t still colonialist attitudes or that there aren’t residual problems still today.  But, the world did change.  We have to believe that the institution of patriarchy can collapse and with it people’s attitudes about violence against women can change.  We have to believe it is possible!

To show your support for women, wear ORANGE on the 25th of November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action#sthash.5kCHMTEQ.dpuf

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Globally Competent Teaching

I currently attend North Carolina State University working on my PhD.  NC State makes up one point of what is called the “Triangle”. Duke and UNC Chapel Hill make up the other two points.  As you know if you read this blog, I am highly interested in Global Education.  I recently read this EdWeek blog on Global Education that quotes Dr. Deardorff, who is at Duke and received her PhD from NC State, Dean Fleener at College of Ed at NC State, and Dr. Glazier at UNC Chapel Hill.  Looks like the Triangle is the place to be to study Global Education!

Read what they have to say about assessing pre-service teachers’ global competence on Edweek.org:



History of International Development

International development is a relatively young field, dating from the post war era (Eade, 2000; Pieterse, 2001). Before this time, imperialism was the mainstream global ideology of the developed world. After World War II, the newly formed United Nations (UN) committed to maintain peace and “to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character” (UN, 1945). The UN established specialized agencies and the World Bank to carry out the specific goal of solving poverty (Eade, 2000). International development became the name of this field dedicated to ending poverty and insecurity (Iriye, 2002). The purpose of this review is to chronicle the political climate and trends in international development from 1945 to the present with emphasis on the impact of these trends on INGOs.

While the history of international development is short, the list of terms development scholars have used to describe countries is long. Over the years, authors have referred to the nations with the most power as the first world, West, core, developed, and North and commonly refer to the nations with less power as third world , periphery, underdeveloped , less developed, developing, and South. I prefer the term developing because it allows for a continuum view of the power distribution in the world rather than an oppositional view of the world. To emphasize cultural differences, I used North and South to describe global positioning and West to describe ideologies from Western European roots.

It is important for us to acknowledge the roots of imperialism and colonization, as the effects are still a source of contention in the literature. People in the field of international development navigate many slippery slopes because of this past: i.e., causing dependency vs. affecting empowerment; disturbing traditional values vs. disrupting social injustice; creating progress vs. cloning Northern ways (see Richardson, 1997). It is also important for us to acknowledge that “differences exist not simply between Third World countries, but within them as well. There are rich and poor people, empowered and disempowered citizens, to be found inside all states and societies in the world” (Tomlinson, 2003, p. 307). The world is full of complex people, each of whom is part of many complex cultures with complex histories. It is beyond the scope of this literature review to detail the complex history from the perspectives of all involved. The purpose of the following history is to provide some context for the contemporary controversies surrounding international development and the role of international nongovernment organizations.

Background of International Development

The reign of colonialism began to fall after the Second World War. Vietnam regained independence from France in 1945. India and Pakistan regained independence from England in 1947. In 1952, anthropologist Alfred Sauvy coined the term third world to describe countries not aligned with the capitalist North Atlantic Treaty Countries (NATO) countries, the First World, nor the Communist Bloc, the second world (Wolf-Phillips, 1987). The third world countries were primarily countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that were former colonies (Tomlinson, 2003).
Modernization theory 1955-1960. In 1955, 29 newly independent countries from Asia and Africa met for the Bandung conference. Because these countries were not aligned to NATO nor the Communist Bloc, they held the potential of being allies for either the first world countries or the second world countries during the Cold War (Tomlinson, 2003). The U.S. used foreign aid as a foreign relations tool and provided funds to INGOs that were already doing development work abroad (Iriye, 2002).

The prevalent development theory of the time was modernization theory based on Rostow’s (1960) Stages of Economic Growth. Modernization theory claims that all countries go through the same stages of development; therefore, developing countries just need help getting to the industrialized modern stage. Critiques of modernization theory called it “Eurocentric” to think that all countries would go through the same historical pattern as the West (Iriye, 2002).

Trends in Development over Time

~1850~1945 Colonial economics | Trusteeship
1945~1955 Development economics| Industrialization
~1955~1960 Modernization | Political and economic growth through Western modernization
~1960-1979 Dependency | Liberate periphery countries from dependence on center countries
1970> Empowerment\Alternative development | Social justice
1980-1990’s Neoliberalism | Economic growth through structural reform, deregulation and privatization
1980> Sustainable development | Meet today’s needs without harming tomorrow’s potential
1990> Post-development | End mainstream development, do no damage

Dependency Theory 1960’s-1970’s

In the 1960’s, the focus shifted from political uncertainty to the economic uncertainty of the time (Tomlinson, 2003). The preamble of the Lusaka Declaration on Non-Alignment and Economic Progress states, “The poverty of developing nations and their economic dependence on those in affluent circumstances constitutes a structural weakness in the present economic order” (p. 28, as cited in Tomlinson, 2003, p.310). Paul Prebisch, director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, analyzed the structural weakness through the creation of dependency theory (Ferraro, 2008). Dependency theory is a theory of international relations that faults the underdevelopment of a nation on the political, economic, and cultural exploitation by developed countries (Sunkel, 1969). Theotonio Dos Santos (1971) defines dependency theory: An historical condition which shapes a certain structure of the world economy such that it favors some countries to the detriment of others and limits the development possibilities of the subordinate economics . . . a situation in which the economy of a certain group of countries is conditioned by the development and expansion of another economy, to which their own is subjected (p. 226).

Dependency theory is best illustrated through trade relationships. Developing countries export raw products to industrialized countries. The industrialized countries then sell value-added products back to the developing countries. The developing countries do not have the capacity to produce the value-added products at the same low price and are reliant on the industrialized country for both the export and import of their own national resource (Cardos & Faletto, 1979). As the world economy began to change, countries like China and Saudi Arabia provided counterexamples that deemed dependency theory as inapplicable to the current state of the world.

Empowerment Theory 1970’s-1980’s

Empowerment theory in the 1970’s and 1980’s was seen as a radical, or alternative, form of development that grew out of the work of Paolo Friere and Feminism (Luttrell et al., 2009). Friere’s (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a seminal work holding society and not the individual responsible for the many illiterate citizens and calling for quality education for the poor. According to Kamat, empowerment during the women’s rights movement meant “empowering individuals to change their societies” (2003, p. 68). The emphasis was on conscience raising and social justice.

This emphasis began to change in the 1990’s. In this decade, funding seemingly dictated focus. In 1989, the World Bank began funding NGOs that educated communities on technical and entrepreneurial skills (Goldman, 2005) and thus those NGOs grew. This change of focus resulted from funding agencies’ agendas and not the INGOs’ agendas (Kamat, 2003). Edwards, Hulme, and Wallace warned, “What would make a difference (like mass-based public protest against Western indifference to genocide) – is never given sufficient attention in NGO strategy. It is too expensive or too “political,” and wins few plaudits or contracts for foreign aid” (1999, p. 9). As NGOs began to accept money from governments and the World Bank, they began to focus on building technical skills rather than removing political barriers to equality (Pearce, 2000). Empowerment of individuals to change society gave way to empowerment of individuals to change themselves in congruence with the liberal view of the individual as the problem and solution to economic development.

Neoliberal theory 1980’s and 1990’s

Let us back up to 1980 when this change began to roll out. The 1980’s were marked by the “Reagan-Thatcher neoliberal revolution” (Goldman, 2005, p. 91). Economic liberalism is marked by deregulation, restructuring, and privatization (Iriye, 2002). Development during this time could be defined as “a short-to-medium term outcome of desirable targets” (Sumner & Tribe, 2008, p. 11). The World Bank’s neoliberal agenda was met with harsh criticism. UNICEF reported that the World Bank policies of the 1980’s “reduced health, nutritional and educational levels for tens of millions of children in Asia, Latin America, and Africa” (Goldman, 2005, p.90).

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell symbolizing the end of the cold war. “There was a flourishing of neo-romantic notions of the self-provisioning and self-regulating community versus the intrusive and normative state” (Eade, 2000, p. 11). International relations and therefore development became people-centered rather than state-centered. The World Bank Bank (1998) praised the strengths of NGOs, “their ability to reach poor communities and remote areas, promote local participation, operate at a low cost, identify local needs, [and] build on local resources” (as cited in Kamat, 2003, p. 66). Mainstream development began to include the community empowerment model of alternative development: “the commitment to participation, sustainability, equity are being widely shared (and unevenly practiced), not merely in the world of NGOs but from UN agencies all the way to the World Bank” (Pietrse, 1998, pp. 369-370). The increase in NGOs during this time period is dramatic. The UN Human Development Report (2002) states, “In 1914 there were 1,083 international NGOs. By 2000 there were more than 37,000—nearly one fifth of them formed in the 1990s.

Sustainable Development 1980’s – Today

A current movement in international development is sustainable development.  Sustainable development recognizes the importance of the environment and planning ahead for future generations.  Heal (1998) explains three values of sustainable development, (1) the present and the future; (2) the environmental as a contribution to economic well-being; and (3) “recognition of the constraints implied by the dynamics of environmental assets” (p.14).  The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development stated, “Peace, development, and environment protection are interdependent and indivisible” (UN, 1992, Principle 23 section, para. 1).  Sustainable development theory is most often associated with the environment but can also refer to financial self-sustainability of an NGO or community.

While there are seemingly no critics of protecting the future of our environment in the international development community, there are critics of the slower pace of growth that regulations could cause (Iriye, 2002).  A criticism of self-sustainable development is that focusing on money distracts NGOs from their services.  These critics believe that NGOs should focus on their mission and not on business (Valderrama & Coscio, 1998 cited in Pearce, 2000).  “The World Bank (2006, pp.5-8) commented that the public image of the NGOs reflected an illegitimate shift into for-profit activity, with low service quality and only limited development impact” (Islam & Morgan, 2012, p. 371).  Whether fundraising or sales, NGOs always had to have an eye on financial resources.  Self-sustainability has the potential of keeping accountability with beneficiaries and not donors.

Post-development 1990’s – Today

Post-development theorist look at development as a project that was (a) doomed to fail from the beginning and (b) should cease now.  The theory is that global development is unrealistic because development is a paternalistic Western ideology that does not belong in the East or South (Pearce, 2000).  The scholars echo the critics of modernization theory.  They ask what is the goal of development? Democracy? Capitalism? Their answer is that these are Western institutions.  Industrialization?  Rahnema argues that global industrialization would mean natural resource depletion and pollution on “a disastrous scale” (1997, p. 379).     However, mainstream development has learned lessons from alternative development and adopted sustainable participatory community empowerment development practices (Pieterse, 1998).  Luttrell et al. eloquently state, “Owing to the internalisation of oppression, the process of demanding increased rights or change cannot be expected to emerge spontaneously from within and to easily challenge entrenched inequalities, discrimination and structural causes of disempowerment” (2009, p.13).  INGO workers must navigate a slippery slope of imposing Western values vs. facilitating empowerment; disturbing traditional values vs. disrupting social injustice; creating desired change vs. cloning Northern ways.  But just because something is extremely difficult, does not mean it should not be tried.


All in all, even if the critics are right and INGOs cannot reach the ideal of sustainable development, Isham et al. (1995) offer empirical evidence that organizations that include beneficiary participation are more efficient than those that do not.  And, the question to me is not whether or not to help but how to provide help (Harvey & Lind, 2005).  Learning about communities’ assets and values as well as fostering agency through partnerships creates a future direction for NGOs, incorporating the established theories we possess for empowering communities through the participatory development process.

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Unconscious bias causes unintentional racism

Admitting that I am a racist is not a bad thing, necessarily, but it is a hard thing.  If I am honest with myself, I can admit that I have biases about my race and about people from different races than my own.  This does not mean I am a bigot.  I do not have hate in my heart, but I do have fear.  It is hard to admit this because I am biased against people that are biased. In other words, I have accepted the discourse that good people are not biased.  But the truth is we all have biases.

Unconscious bias causes unintentional racism and sexism.  When we bring our biases to the surface, we can check ourselves and make a change.  Here is an example.  A white woman is in an elevator.  A black man steps on the elevator and the doors close.  She tightens her grip on her purse and pulls it closer to her body.  She doesn’t even think about this at the time or later.  He does.  He noticed.  He exits the elevator on the next floor.

Same example after she reads this blog.  A white woman is in an elevator.  A black man steps on the elevator and the doors close.  She notices that she feels a little uncomfortable and realizes it is her bias. She makes the choice not to clutch her purse but to relax her grip.  He exits the elevator on the next floor.

Checking our biases is just a first step, but it is an important step.  Please, whether you agree with me or not, watch this documentary about bias, racism, and fear.  There are two white men in the video.  One claims that he is racist.  One claims that he is not racist.  Which of the two men do you think had not reflected on his own biases?  You’ll have to watch to see if you are correct.

The Color of Fear by Lee Mun Wah

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Pumpkin: the one solution to many problems

Pumpkin flavored dog treat? Really? Ok, I would probably buy those.

Who would have thought an ugly orange squash would have the following of suburban moms in the Millennia that Tom Selleck’s mustache had in the 80’s.  Pumpkins are all the rage: Starbucks lattes, M&Ms, Pringles, vodka, cheesecakes, Edy’s ice cream, Hershey’s kisses, marshmallows, Pumpkin Ale, ravioli, donuts, bagels, Country Crock butter, Jello pudding . . . I’m full.  Though it is hard to improve on donuts and vodka, that homely fruit did it.

The thing is, this orange globoid can be grown in Central America and India, two places where 4 the World does a lot of work.  And the seeds inside the pumpkin can produce next year’s harvest.  Growing food makes people self-sustainable.  They can feed their family and sell excess for profit to buy medicine, education, and local products.  Buying these items then in turn supports the local economy.  According to Practical Action, “Pumpkins are a perfect crop because they are extremely nutritious, last for up to a year and fetch good money at market” (http://practicalaction.org/turning-compost-into-food).

While Pumpkins are the Princess Crop of America, Quinoa could be the Queen Crop but it’s not because all though it is in growing demand with U.S. soccer moms for it’s high nutritional value, it is not a high yield crop.  Learn more http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/07/11/quinoa-should-be-taking-over-the-world-this-is-why-it-isnt/

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Help us Solve the Most Pressing Health and Education Needs


We recently partnered with Check-in for Good, a social media app that lets you raise money for your favorite charities by simply “checking-in” when you go to your favorite places.  Just follow these easy steps.

1. Download the Check-in for good app.

2. Ask your favorite retailers to sign-up at checkinforgood.com . It’s free and always will be.

3. Check-in each time you go and instantly raise support for those in need!

“Wherever you go, there we are – enabling you to support great causes simply by checking in at your favorite places: coffee shops, restaurants, sporting events and more.”  (Check-in for Good webpage)

You can view our campaign page here http://checkinforgood.com/campaigns/4-the-world-empowering-collaborative-communities

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Falsehood of the Traveling Pants

Where do your donated jeans end up?  When I put a pair of stylish but unfortunately too small jeans in the Goodwill donation bin, I imagine a young single mother, struggling to make ends meet one day wearing them feeling beautiful and happy about her find. But, that’s probably more of my imagination than the truth.  In fact, only 10% of clothes jeans turned into insulationdonated are sold in the thrift shop.  Most of the clothes are sold to companies that then make a profit on them.

One type of company recycles them into dish cloths that are sold for a profit.  Some people find it disheartening that some stranger is making a profit off of their donation. However, some people are happy that their old clothes are being recycled and not dumped in a landfill.  Goodwill says that the profit they make off of selling clothes to recyclers pays for community programs, so the donation is still doing good.

Another type of company sells the clothes in developing countries for a profit.  This disrupts the local market, costing local textile makers the opportunity to sell a pair of traditional.  Frazer (2008) explains the dynamic: “Used-clothing imports are found to have a negative impact on apparel production in Africa, explaining roughly 40% of the decline in production and 50% of the decline in employment over the period 1981–2000” (p. 1767).

This ABC article clearly explains the journey of the donated jeans. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=2743456&page=1

So, what to do?  First of all, I think all nonprofits should be transparent about what happens to donations.  Second, it is true that charity thrift stores provide jobs and programs in the community, so I donate clothing that I know will sell, like good quality and still in style pieces.  Then, I recycle the clothes with stains and holes into cleaning rags myself.  As for jeans, you can turn them into insulation for Habitat Homes http://www.cottonfrombluetogreen.org/Mail-in-Program/.  For those in between items, I hold on to them and personally give them to people I hear about who are in need because of a house fire or hard times.

Clothing isn’t the only problem.  Computers, tvs, and cell phones are too.  This is a good PBS Frontline video explaining the problem of computers being dumped in developing countries. http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/ghana804/video/video_index.html

For my old technology, I give it all to 4 the World.  The technologically-gifted volunteers rebuild computers and then we take them to schools in developing countries that ask for them.  We find that the older technology works better than new technology with the slower systems and there is not a traditional market that is being threatened.  We NEVER dump junk computers in the developing world. 4theworld-logo-basic-2color50.jpg

Before you buy a new device though, take the time to find out what’s in it.  Some TVs and computers have more toxins that can’t be recycled. Check out Greenpeace’s report  “What’s in Electronic Devices”.  You can also check out EPEAT to see how green a device is.  Or better yet, just upgrade your existing device.  Or, turn it off and go outside for a walk instead (but after you read my blog of course!)