Our Guest Blogger is Wendy Coulson. Wendy is a Rotary Peace Fellow Chula batch 18 of 2015. She is the Principal and Consultant of Peace and Development Education Consulting.
Peace and Development Consulting was born after she graduated from the Rotary Peace Fellowship. She has spent 20+-years career working in the field of education as a teacher, program coordinator, manager, trainer and now consultant. You can learn more about her projects at www.peaceanddevelopment.org.
Rotary and CEDESA on Cistern Education
Peace & Development Education Consulting was born after I graduated from the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand in March 2015. I chose this name because I had written down a phrase during one of our sessions that said “There is no development without peace, and no peace without development.” I design education programs for development projects in Rotary International’s 6 Areas of Focus based on the following peace principles learned during the fellowship. ·Do No Harm ·Non-Violent Communication ·Gender Equality ·Conflict Analysis ·Community Building/Connectors ·Prevention ·Autonomy ·Self-empowerment ·Sustainability ·Local Knowledge I am currently working in Medellin, Colombia as an English Language Fellow with the United States Department of State’s English Language Programs working at a binational center on children’s and special learning needs programs. Although I have been living and working in Mexico for the last 13 years, my work has also taken me to Jordan and the U.S. One of the most fulfilling projects took place in my adopted state Guanajuato, Mexico where I worked with a local Rotary Club and its local partner on an education program to accompany their water catchment development project. The club had been involved in the project for 5 years to remedy the dire situation facing rural communities of contaminated water. After five years, the local project managers observed that many of the beneficiaries were not using the cisterns that they built, not maintaining them or simply filling them with contaminated water. The Rotarians decided that an education component was missing from the program so that the beneficiaries could also ‘own’ the knowledge, not just the cisterns, and be able to teach others. I worked with the local partners, a community organizing association with more than 50 years of experience, to develop a 3-day education program complete with a facilitator’s manual and a booklet for beneficiaries. I also conducted a facilitator training and follow-up evaluations. A member of the local partnership conducted a qualitative evaluation of the project from the pre- and post-questionnaires and the results overwhelming supported the benefits of the education program. I heard one participant exclaim, “Why didn’t you tell us this before?! This is important!” The fact is that they were told before, but not shown. They hadn’t had time to process the information and make it their own. As a foreigner in Mexico, I sometimes get resistance from local organizations and am not accepted at first. In fact, one organization refused to work with me since I was not local. However, when they see my process of first observing and talking and then working together to develop goals and objectives, I gain their confidence. And when they see how the beneficiaries react and the results they achieve, they are happy with my work. After graduating from the Rotary Peace Fellowship, I infuse everything I present in my trainings and curriculum writing with peace principles even in my work as an English language professional. The dynamics of teaching and learning are not meant to pass on information, but to build communities and community.