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Service learning training from a Harvard Professor

By Cheryl Martin 1 month ago

It has been a pleasure to host Dr Bryan McAlister-Grande for the past week here in Nepal.

Bryan joined us as  GVI Sustainable Development Fellow (2019-20).  He received his Master of Education and Doctor of Education degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Cambridge, MA USA) and is the Curriculum Integration Manager at Northeastern University (Boston, MA USA).

It has equally been a pleasure to host 18 workshop participants from  Pokhara and Kathmandu to attend the series of workshops run by Dr Bryan.  The workshop focus was “ Becoming a Researcher: Empirical Research Design and Programme Evaluation.” The focus of research was decided following consultation with local organisations particularly SASANE.  It was a series of workshops across 6 mornings.

Participants represented several organisations

  • SASANE an anti-trafficking organization that takes a multifaceted approach to empowering women including training them as paralegals.
  • Skylark Himalayan Tours and Travels our dependable partners who support us with all tours and trekking and have a strong interest in supporting the community
  • Star Children’s who are outreach programme to support families of children affected by HIV
  • HART the Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust who particularly focus on improving the lives of animals in Nepal with neutering and vaccination being a key focus
  • Welcome to My Yard who strive to enable positive futures for street based children, young people and families at risk in the Kathmandu region.

It was a fantastic range of people across a range of organisations, all eager to learn.

Bryan started and ended the week with a key idea that research is a Human Right ( https://docs.ufpr.br/~clarissa/pdfs/Research) and made a strong acknowledgement of Participatory Action Research (PAR).  Knowledge and understanding of Research is beneficial in both personal and working life and in fact, would stand very appropriately as a subject area in a regular school curriculum.

Across the week we focused on

  • Asking a Question
  • Gathering Data: Qualitative Methods
  • Gathering Data: Quantitative Methods
  • Experimental Research Design
  • Analyzing Your Data
  • Communicating Your Findings

For me, I particularly enjoyed revisiting the Logic Model and Theory of Change. It was also really interesting to practice coding which could be a useful approach when working in Community Development.  Others in the group resonated more of the quantitative and  numerical data or aspects that were particularly relevant to their work.  The SASANE team,  who are trained paralegals, all showed their skills and knowledge in the interviewing sections of the course as did the participants from the other organisations.

One of the great things about workshops , especially when held over several days, is the networking that happens between organisations. We certainly finished the week with new connections and support networks, making it far more than simply running the six workshops. We look forward to GVI Nepal being part of this network. As one participant mentioned,  

“It not only provided us with the knowledge and process of research, it was also based on including various groups of people who we can share the culture, knowledge and work among each other.”

A Human Empowerment model is a strong ethos in GVI.  One aspect of Human Empowerment is Horizontal Relationships this relates to us all being the learner and the teacher.  The networking I have mentioned fits into this and although Bryan led the main workshops and came with a wealth of knowledge and experiences,  he also had some significant learning experiences from the group members. He

  • attended the Sisterhood of Survivors programme run by participants from SASANE where he learnt about Human Trafficking as well as making traditional momos. His participation also helps fund another paralegal to be trained.
  • participated in a trek and local tour where our Skylark guides could show their skills in leading, teach about the local area and explain some of the achievements and challenges in their roles.
  • met with two of the vets from HART for two evening sessions to discuss research in relation to their field of work with both humans and animals
  • attended our GVI Welcome activities which include an introduction to Nepali culture and GVI’s sustainable development programmes
  • learnt about the Nepali systems and processes for reporting through the workshop discussions.

There was time to share information with the various participants throughout the week and there is no doubt Bryan has a greater understanding of Nepali culture as well as the social enterprise organisations in Nepal, their strengths and challenges.

Our workshops culminated on Friday with a presentation ceremony where traditional Khata scarves and tikka as well as a certificate of completion were presented. We’ve sent Bryan home with Bhag Chal (Goats and tigers) a traditional Nepali game.

It’s now time to all reflect and consider how we can look further into the area of research and how each of us can utilize our new knowledge and understandings. We are also keen to build resources and connections that will support  us all in the future. This week is just the beginning and if each participant can take at least one thing and apply it in their personal or professional life it would be worthwhile.

A final big thankyou to all of the participants and their organisations, the Third Pole  team for hosting us and to Dr Bryan McAllister-Grande for sharing his time and expertise.

Our journey has just begun, Please follow this fellowship programme  https://www.journeytonepal.net/team