western-do-gooders-need-to-resist-the-allure-of-exotic-problems (from The Guardian)

western dogoodersLink to Guardian Article:  23 April 2016 

 

“But don’t go because you’ve fallen in love with solvability.

Go because you’ve fallen in love with complexity.

Don’t go because you want to do something virtuous.

Go because you want to do something difficult.

Don’t go because you want to talk.

Go because you want to listen.”

This piece was originally published on The Development Set

Courtney E Martin is a journalist and author of several books including Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists

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Australian Volunteers International – To volunteer abroad you’ll need to know the answer to this question

Volunteering Ian McDonaldSource: Australian Volunteers International – To volunteer abroad you’ll need to know the answer to this question

I met Ian McDonald back in 1993 when I was preparing to volunteer with AVI, also in the Solomon Islands.  He was a cool and inspirational dude!  And realistic.  Interesting reflecting on his comments here – the answers I gave then, and would give now, certainly fit well into the OK rationales.  But he was (and clearly still is) always realistic about the inevitable challenges and difficulties encountered along the way.

Ant Egg Soup

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Ant Egg Soup: The Adventures of a Food Tourist in Laos Paperback – February 1, 2005

Lonely Planet (Laos & Solomons)

“It’s hard to think of any other country with a population as laid-back as Laos.  Bor ben nying (‘no problem’) could be the national motto.  On the surface at least, nothing seems to faze the Lao.  Of course, it’s not as simple as ‘people just smiling all the time because they’re happy’, as we heard one traveller describe it.  The Lao national character is a complex combination of culture, environment and religion.

To a large degree ‘Lao-ness’ is defined by Buddhism, specifically Theravada Buddhism, which emphasises the cooling of human passions [!!!]  Thus, strong emotions are a taboo in Lao society.  Kamma (karma), more than devotion, prayer or hard work, is believed to determine one’s lot in life, so the Lao tend not to get too worked up over the future.  It’s a trait often perceived by outsides as a lack of ambition.

Lao commonly express the notion that ‘too much work is bad for your brain’ and they often say they feel sorry for the people who ‘think too much’.  Education in general isn’t highly valued, although this attitude is changing with modernisation and greater access to opportunities beyond the country’s borders.  Avoiding any undue psychological stress, however, remains a cultural norm.  From the typical Lao perspective, unless an activity – whether work or play – contains an element of mooan (fun), it will probably lead to stress.” p.277

Before I arrived in the Solomon Islands as a volunteer (1994) I also studied up on the Lonely Planet Guide to find out what I could expect.  I still have the book, and the comment I copied on the inside cover:  “Honiara is certainly a dirty, dusty, depressing place, with a miserable hinterland and no real grasp of its own problems” (1993 ed. Arthur King – Travel writer).   I remember thinking that no, I wasn’t interested in war relics (WWII) and doubted I’d be able to go diving, so there was really nothing of interest for me there – why was I going?  (Well, that’s another story that has permeated the subsequent 22 years of my life).  And it ignores the biggest drawcard for me, people and their cultures,  encapsulated by this statement in the introduction:  “Everywhere people smile and are friendly in the country its people call the Happy Isles”.  Ah what a tourist drawcard – living and working there of course is quite a different matter!

Updating my Academia.edu Profile

Working on updating my various different social media profiles!  http://deakin.academia.edu/AnnabelleLeve

Deakin University, School of Education, Faculty of Arts and Education, Teaching & Academia profile     Research +2 | Sociology of Education +53
Annabelle Leve is embarking on a long desired challenge and adventure, working at a Teacher Training College in Laos, from September 2016. This will mean great changes, but also a sense of continuity, having embarked on such a challenge to work in the Pacific as a volunteer back in 1994, qualifying to teach ESL soon after, achieving a MEd and a PhD, and raising two incredible children. Finally, now, having the opportunity again to live and learn in a lesser known place with the hope of sharing skills, finding out more of the world and ways of being, and perhaps, achieving some good and sharing it along the way.
I haven’t ‘succeeded’ in the academic challenge of following the rules and producing academically acceptable articles/publications, or in successfully gaining an academic job out of the many applications and interviews I’ve had. I’m so tired of being deemed ‘not good enough’. But I have learnt a lot and have a lot to share; I love to write and will continue to do it – via social media/blogging – and who knows where it shall lead? I hope that somehow we will cross paths again.

I”m leaving my earlier profile below – sort of like a historical artifact now …
Annabelle Leve has been an educator and a researcher in the School of Education at Deakin University, and alumna from Monash University Faculty of Education. Annabelle’s research interests are in critical approaches to social and cultural issues in education, particularly relating to representation, marketisation, neoliberalism and internationalisation in its various guises.

Most recently my research work has been conducted through looking at available representations of ‘ways of knowing’ in order to better understand how particular ways of knowing are variously constructed and constructive, managed, manipulated, mediated and maintained. In terms of ‘international education as a valued commodity’, what are the processes through which it becomes known in that way? And what are the social implications and possible consequences of these processes?
I would be very happy to make contact with anyone interested in discussing these types of issues.
Supervisors: Prof. Jane Kenway (PhD)