Leh We Go Befoh – Let us Move Forward

Angie Ortlieb

various teaching tools and how to develop lesson plans, which in turn influenced student learning. They reported an increased understanding of SLTU and were able to clarify some misconceptions. Perhaps the most powerful finding was the social and emotional impact that PO has had on teachers’ lives. Many Sierra Leonean teach­ers reported an increase in self-confidence and expressed the intention to pursue post­ secondary studies.

I have found various practices within the structure of PO that work toward a frame­ work that puts the host country at the centre, including co-tutor partnerships, the practice of sending repeat volunteers, and CTF’s effort to meet partner requests. From my informal conversations with PO alumni and my own experiences, it is clear how committed, well­ intentioned, and passionate PO volunteers are about the work they do. We are excited to learn from, with, and about our colleagues.

Despite the success, I had many lingering questions about how better to enable PO to work toward a framework that would bet­ter recognize both the strength of Indigenous practices, and the impact (both positive and negative) of the development work we were doing. My intention was to consider where the critiques of international development could contribute to PO and how to include more local materials, resources, and cultural knowledge.

Margaret Kovach, an Indigenous scholar based in Saskatchewan, offers particularly sig­nificant advice to both Indigenous and non­ Indigenous scholars who are committed to Indigenous knowledges. Kovach’s writings on the importance of thinking critically about our own roles and responsibilities in the work we do, knowing the history of a place, and making sure that our work is done in relation to those we are working with prompted me to offer recommendations based on my personal growth and learning. I share these thoughts, not to be understood as final, but to spark dialogue among those involved in international educa­tion partnerships. I am certain there are past and current CTF co-tutors who are far more aware than I about practices that put the his­ tory, needs, and culture of the host country at their centre. However, it is likely that there are many volun­teers who, like myself, have room to grow.

Prioritizing Reading:  Because CTF co-tutors are con­ strained by time during the school year, rarely do  we have an in-depth understanding of the historical and contemporary issues faced by the destination country. Without dismissing the reading that many co-tutors do in preparation, my suggestion is to simply take this aspect of planning seriously. It seems many CTF co-tutors, including myself, spend a lot of time fundraising, working on detailed lesson ideas, and reading tourist-based literature on the host coun­try. Novels, historical pieces, and research-based articles about volunteer tourism and development work would all be useful in preparation,


three students walking through hallway smiling at camera

There’s no such thing as a teacher who doesn’t have a diverse classroom in one form or another.

etfo members posing with ugandan teachers

My primary assignment as a Project Overseas participant in Uganda was to facilitate, with my Ugandan co-tutor, a series of workshops in ear