The Sierra Leonean educators that I interviewed reported learning skills for their class rooms, such as how to use 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