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Leh We Go Befoh – Let us Move Forward

Angie Ortlieb

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, adding depth to our understand­ing. It is not realistic to expect co-tutors to read endlessly before heading overseas, nor is this the only step necessary for effective work. Instead this reading has the potential to move us forward and to develop a framework that includes multiple social and historical layers.

Prioritize Local Materials : Many volunteers  feel that incorporating local resources into PO is very important, and I remember conversations about this at pre-departure training. My research shows that Sierra Leonean educators also place great value on local knowledge. Until my fieldwork, I did not realize just how limited I was in this capacity. I remember my team suggesting teachers use bottle caps for math counters since we were finding them all over the streets of Freetown. These suggestions were well-intentioned but we were told there were no soft drinks available in rural villages, the communities where the workshop participants taught. We also suggested using natural products such as seeds. An interviewee explained that hun­gry students might eat the counters. So even in instances where we thought we were incorporating local materials that would work, we were not. Taking the time to facilitate discussion about local materials and knowledge in our PO workshops and with our co-tutors is crucial to developing a locally relevant program.

Valuing Cultural Knowledge: knowledge has been an important part of my learning experience and has guided my recommendations. During the interviews, teachers specifically mentioned in corpo­ rating cultural knowledge. One Sierra Leonean teacher believes drumming, dancing, and local rhymes should be emphasized in PO and stated that children should not be separated from their culture. Another teacher thought PO should include many topics in relation to cultural knowl­edge, such as the history and migration of different ethnic groups in Sierra Leone. He stated that every district in Siena Leone has a story for its name and believed this topic would provide a strong starting point for discussion. Work­ in together, we can develop curriculum that includes this cultural knowledge.

Asking Deep Questions: 

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