Friday, March 24, 2006

Introduction and Statement of Purpose

Statement of Purpose

This summer I am going to Rwanda to build classrooms for street children, orphaned after the 1994 genocide. I’ve studied and taught in classrooms for 29 years (I'm currently an adjunct lecturer in the English Department at the University of Arizona) and now I want to help build physical structures that house such learning and teaching. I believe everyone should have access to a safe place in which to study and instruct. I will go to Rwanda as part of a workcamp run by the African Great Lakes Initiatives/Friends Peace Teams. The AGLI/Friends are working with Rwandans to improve the social situation in a post-genocidal land. I will work alongside Rwandans in the construction of a school. I believe that participating in such a project works against the spread of indifference and cynicism.


My parents met in Nigeria; they were teachers in the very first years of the Peace Corps. I am an only child and was reared with their stories, their Peace Corps friends, and with the general understanding that teaching in Africa changed my parents’ lives, made them the conscientious objectors they are, gave them an anti-racist ethic that led them to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, and generally shaped them into the compassionate, critical people they’ve become. Having been reared in this environment, I came to care greatly about local and global inequalities and environmental conservation. I, personally, feel I need to heal as a white person from the oppressive nature of my own racial formation in U.S. society and from the hurts and divisions I’ve both caused and faced because of this formation and I am currently asking how one can ethically witness tragedy and what is to be done about human rights abuses – how to prevent them, how to stop them?


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