How INDEVOURS changed my endeavours

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I am not an academic. I get easily frustrated with assignments and tests since I can never gauge how I  did; I think my assignment is horrible and I get a good mark or I think I do well on a test and I end up just passing. I also don’t believe marks mean anything if you aren’t a well rounded human being.

This is why I will personally rave about the creation of INDEVOURS.

It originally started as a simple class project and in the past 4 years it has become so much more than that. We have become our own organization. I believe INDEVOURS is the best way to facilitate an NGO experience in a controlled setting. Many things have changed in the past years such as our mission statement and goals; however these thing are inevitable as our academic program changes from year to year.

My favourite part of INDEVOURS is that there is a tangible goal. Working hard to create an event and to ultimately raise funds and awareness is something that makes more sense to me than just receiving marks. I love the planning, the event process and the post-event evaluation work, I feel more productive than I have ever felt in school and its so fun! INDEV 303 and 403 have helped me create my own goals once I have graduated.

I think I always should have gone to college instead of university, so I’m going to try that next. I’d like to do a graduate diploma in marketing to eventually work for a non-profit. I used to think I was going to travel the world, live in rural areas and work with minority groups. But sometimes you have to be a little more realistic. I will travel and I will continue to do development based work in the future but through marketing and event planning manner. I don’t have many career goals past this since I still need to finish some schooling; but I when I’m asked what I want to do; I’ve come up with my response.

This year I’ve decided that my main goal in life is to be able to care for momma d when she retires. She has given so much time, money and love to me, that I want to be able to give that back to her eventually. The world changes, you change, careers change. But this my feature endeavour.

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An Inverted Perspective

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I was once told that you should do a handstand everyday, because its good for you. For me, thats not difficult. But there are many people who are uncomfortable doing handstands or even being upside down at all.

Handstands make you stronger.
Learning to carry your weight on your hands increases your core and upper body strength.

Handstands increase your balance.
To be able to hold yourself up, you must be extremely conscious of your body weight and be able to make small adjustments to be successful.

Handstands boost your mood.
Due to the increase of blood flow to your brain handstands increases energy and has a calming effect to relieve stress, minor depression and anxiety.

Handstands effect your health; for the better.
Due to bearing your body weight on your hands, this strengthens your bones in your back, shoulders, arms and wrists making you less prone to osteoporosis. Also having less weight in your feet and legs, in communion with stretching your diaphragm increases blood flow to your lungs increasing circulation and breathing.

Handstands challenge you.
The challenge is that you are literally being placed into new perspectives. Being upside down, especially for the first time increases uncertainty; as your hips rise so does your level of uncertainty and as uncertainty rises so does your level of fear. However when you become comfortable with handstands there is an extremely relaxing and clear moment when you’re stalled in the vertical position.

I think a handstand is a beautiful metaphor for international development, especially for all of us INDEVOURS who will be going on placement in September. All of the points above correspond to development practice. To work in the field you must be strong, more mentally than physically in this sense, because you never know what you’ll witness. It is also important to keep your balance and continue to work toward what you believe in; I was told by a past INDEVOUR that it is important to be tolerant and understanding of other cultures but that doesn’t mean you need to lose yourself in the process. Our placement is also meant to challenge us, and probably going to change us. We are all going to be placed in new surroundings meaning we will be seeing new perspectives and there will be uncertainty. The importance here is not to fear it – but to learn about it, as you would to learn a handstand. This shift in perspective will change the place of your awareness, resulting in the way you interact with the world.

Maybe doing a handstand everyday is a way I can prepare for placement. I’ll have to learn how to become comfortable in new situations with new perspectives. Hopefully with practice I’ll be able to reach that clear and relaxing moment of a perfect handstand.

Disclaimer: Not a handstand

Disclaimer: Not a handstand

My Next Steps; Ghana and Micro-Finance!

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If you don’t know, I’m travelling to Tamale, Ghana in September for school. My program requires 8 months of volunteering for a NGO (non-governmental organization) to receive my degree. The main reason I accepted my offer to the International Development program and UW is the mandatory placement. I don’t remember when I became so enthralled with learning about Africa, but every chance I got I would complete my assignments about specific countries and cultures within the continent. I’ve always wanted to travel to Africa, and this is finally my chance!

Ghana is a country located in Western Africa. The capital city is Accra, which is located in the south close to the coast. Two of my peers will be working in Accra; Josh and Becca. As we travel north another classmate Andrea will be living and working in Kumasi, about a 3 and a half hour drive from Accra. And even more north will be Lauren and myself in Tamale, an 8 hour drive or an hour plane ride from the capital.

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Ghana was first invaded by the Portuguese, who sold Ghanians in the slave trade in the Americas in the late 1400’s. The next most important historical moment for Ghana was during the Berlin Conference of 1885; a conglomeration of European powers scrambling to claim the 53 countries of Africa. This was done without any African presence. Britain calmed and colonized Ghana. However, in March 1957, Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence and was a leader for other Nations to work towards their independence.

If we flash forward to the 21st century, Ghana is now the fastest growing economy in Africa. The country has recently been granted middle income status, caused by the discovery, extraction and export of petroleum and natural gas. Along with the oil sector, Ghana also has a strong mining and agriculture sector exporting gold, silver, diamonds, manganese, coca, sugar cane, pineapples and mangos.

Although in most developing countries, including Ghana there is a champaign glass distribution of wealth, meaning there is no middle class and that are wealthy elites but also many poor citizens. My placement will be working towards closing this gap through micro-finance.

I will be working with an organization called the Maata-N-Tudu Association, which translates to “Women of the North”. MTN is a non-political, non-religious, non-ethnic, non-governmental women’s membership organization with the goal to economically empower women through the provision of micro-credit loans to support women’s income generating activities and thereby improving upon their standards of living and that of their families.  MTN is presently made up of 750 groups across the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana with a total membership of 13,100 with 8,500 members being active loan beneficiaries.

I received my work mandate which states that my responsibilities are, but not limited to:

  • Internet research on national and international donors
  • Lead in developing project proposals to Support the Project of the beneficiaries of the loan scheme
  • Support the development of business plans for beneficiaries
  • Support Rights based training for staff and beneficiaries
  • Organize fundraising events
  • Capture success/significant stories on the project for publication.
  • Update Maata-N-Tudu website
  • Write regular progress and activity reports on the project.

I’m feeling very comfortable with these roles, and am hoping to learn as much as I can while living in Ghana and working for a NGO. I hope this helped those of you who are curious to what my next steps are. Let me know if you have any questions!

 

Happy Never After

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The other day I stumbled upon something online that I have never seen before. An artist with the fictitious name of Saint Hoax, has created two poster-based awareness campaigns with his work. The first is encouraging minors who have been subject to sexual abuse by a family member to report their cases. The second is a campaign for the awareness of domestic violence.

The reason these are different is because the posters are staring Disney Princesses.

The Princest Diaries:

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Happy Never After:

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I love Disney movies. Their stories are so pure, and you know that in the end true love prevails. But these are just fairy tales.

It is because we don’t associate the ideas of princesses and assault is why these images are so out of place. But I believe Saint Hoax is speaking to a specific demographic; those between 15 and 35. This may be a large grouping, however I think this is the time when women are making hard life choices about becoming themselves, finding love and living life. This demographic was also young and naive when these ‘classic’ Disney movies prevailed resulting in the possible beliefs of “happily ever after”. The benefit of this campaign is the connection one has with the Disney Princesses. This shock value Saint Hoax has created is important to bring attention to such violence, to get people talking and, hopefully lead to its prevention.

What was your first reaction to these pictures?
What do you think of the usage of Disney Princesses for such work?

World Pride 2014

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The beautiful rainbow below blanketed the city in love as the festivities of pride came to a close.

  World Pride 2014   Sunday I attended World Pride 2014 in Toronto. This was my first pride event, and I only made it to the parade but it was a blast! The singing, dancing and colours passing me as the parade travelled down the street was beautiful imagery. However, it was the magnetic feeling of happiness that emanated from the people walking that made me not look away. I don’t think a smile left my face as I watched. There was a section of the parade where the flags of the world were marched representing the solidarity for those worldwide who are LGBTTIQQ2SA and may be unable to be themselves, or participate in pride. As a Canadian event I would expect nothing less. Canada is one of the most progressive countries when it comes to gay rights. Our country granted common-law to same-sex couples in 1999, and passed legislation for same-sex marriage nationwide in 2005. In contrast, to this day, there are still 76 countries where same-sex conduct is illegal and five of those where the death penalty remains. Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 4.43.58 PM I can understand that people may have conflicting views, and that everyone has their own beliefs. However I hope for the hatred to stop. As an ally, I believe that love is love, is love. Our generation must be socially responsible to create a world where people shouldn’t be afraid to love. I also believe that in the end it is the relationships that we develop matter the most. I encourage you to become an ally, challenge you to not pass judgments on others and always treat others how you’d wish to be treated. holding-hands-rainbow-flag

Hi! I’m Emily, and I’m a INFJ

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I want to talk about the difference between my blog and my peers’ blogs.
Most of my peers write about the facts on subjects they’re interested in.
I, on the other hand, write mostly about my feelings.

In INDEV 303 (the class I’m writing this blog for) we were told to complete the Myers-Briggs personality test. The answers of this test are not supposed to change through your life time. I’m honestly a little sceptical of this because people are such dynamic creatures and can be impacted by something in a heartbeat.

The way the Myers-Briggs works is that through a series of short questions you are given four letters. Each letter you are given has a pair, you are either one or the other. They are as follows:

Attitudes:
Introvert or Extrovert.
Introverts recharge their energy by being alone.
Extroverts recharge their energy by being with others.

Perceiving Functions:
Sensing or Intuition.
Sensors are more likely to trust information that is tangible and concrete.
Those who choose intuition trust information that is more abstract and that can be associated with a wider rage of context or patterns.

Judging Functions:
Thinking and Feeling.
Thinkers make detached decisions by what seems reasonable or logical.
Feelers make decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation.

Lifestyle Functions:
Judging and Perceiving.
Those who judge like to have plans made and rules and deadlines respected.
Those who perceive like to improvise, are spontaneous and enjoy surprises.

I am an INFJ. This responds to being an Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging. This combination is the rarest types of personality types represented by only 1-3% of the world population. We seek meaning in relationships, ideas, and events, with an eye toward better understanding of themselves and others.

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The parts of the Myers-Briggs personality test that stands out to me so much is that I am a feeler. I am probably the most indecisive person you will ever meet. But when I do make decisions I have to feel it in my gut, to know what to choose. I think this the main reasons my blog posts speak about how I feel regarding to placement and personal choices. I have always been less confident presenting facts than feelings, and this shows in my posts as well.

I am also thoroughly described in the sentence above which states that INFJ personality types seek “toward better understanding of themselves and others”. Getting to know how not only myself but others act and make choices is a strength of mine. I am very good at one-on-one conversations and I love learning about people. I think this will be a strength on placement because I have strong interests in learning about my co-workers and how their lives have developed.

I hope that knowing more about myself, my Indevour peers will help me ease into placement. And that my interest in others will increase my comfort in a brand new country.

If you haven’t taken the Myers-Briggs test click here!
Let me know what your results are and if you think they fit you 🙂

A Little Epiphany

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Yesterday I wrote a final exam for my favourite course of university.
I absolutely loved REC 200 – Play, Creativity and Child Development.

All you INDEV friends are probably wondering why I took a Recreation & Leisure Studies course instead of Geography, Poli Sci, or ERS like the rest of our cohort.
To be honest I was hoping for an easy class, but then I realized how much sense it made for me to learn about Children and Play.

I have always worked with children. I’ve volunteered with Girl Guides of Canada for years, babysat and I’ve been coaching cheerleading for the past two years. I’ve learned so much about being a children’s programmer and moderator for children’s play as well as structured activities from this class.  And I think with this background knowledge, I can apply play and child development to my international development career.

I know that there are many development jobs working with children or creating programming for these jobs. However, I feel that working with children in Africa or South America is so stereotypical.
“Oh look another white girl holding another black baby as her Facebook profile picture”
Does anyone else think this way? Or am I just a bad person?

I think those who “do development work” (I use quotations on that because some people think development work is just building a school or a well), need to remember that just because “we’re white, or we’re from the ‘developed world’ that we’re not going to fix Africa (or South America, or Asia)”.

The goals (created by the UN and their partners) are to start development with children. Increase health and literacy to foster positive foundations for the future. I always said I didn’t want to be a teacher, or work with children “when I grew up”. But maybe children are the best asset to invest in. So I guess I’m asking myself  – or you, how I can be different when it comes to working with children in developing countries?

I think I completed my first step, by finishing my REC 200 course.
I’m planning on taking another REC course next term on community development.
With the background knowledge on these two topics, I hope to translate some information from a developed world context to a developing world understanding.
But I must remember that context changes dependant on many factors such as people and places, so I can’t have a static idea. I still need to do some brainstorming, but I’m feeling like I’m on the right track going forward.

Do you ever look back and think “wow, I’ve actually learned so much”?
I just had that moment. And I’m glad I got to share it with you.