Cultural and Normal

Written by Co-Founder Laura Anderson
It is interesting to be a teacher in the era of globalization. In many respects we do live in a global village. We all eat, sleep, love, learn, have families, listen to music, enjoy friends, work, play, and try to get through each day the best we can. In other ways, we live very different lives. This was most recently brought to my attention because my eighteen year old daughter, who is spending the year in Senegal, just came face to face with the kind of violence, that while not uncommon here- is condemned- but in Senegal is culturally accepted.  Her host mom beat her host sister so violently that the daughter lost some of her hair and had a broom broken over her head; all because she had not cooked Emma’s dinner yet.  There are many cultures that accept violence towards each other as normal. Kristine referred to some in her recent blog post about Malala, and the women around the world documented in Half the Sky. As teachers in Uganda, we had to stand by while children were caned. You might wonder why we stood by, why could we not just step in front of the teacher with the cane and stop them. As teachers in America we are federally mandated to report suspected child abuse. It is our job to help kids, not just to learn, but to show them how important each and every one of them is, what their potential is, and to believe in them – sometimes when no one else does.

            Change does not happen because we wish it, or pray for it, or donate a room full of computers to a school with no electricity. Change happens because we set an example, we educate, and we work within the cultural norms to make a personal connection with other human beings on the planet in the hope that we can learn from each other.

            Educate for Change is taking a small group of students to Uganda this summer to make that connection. Simple human to human contact is how we will truly become the change we want to see in the world. 

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