Sunday, May 27, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Here’s my next blog already (;!
I just received a letter of MUWCI (which, as you know, stands for Mahindra United World College). In the two years I’ll be there, I’ll have a week each year in which I do a sort of project. This can be a project to protect the environment, to help people of a ‘lower state’ or to do activities that are particular to India. I’ll probably take one in which I can help people who are disadvantaged.
I’ll add a few possibilities that I would like to do.
Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA)
The Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA) is a child-centered, rights-based, community development organization founded in 1981 and located in Bangalore. APSA works at two levels - at the grassroots level where the focus is on empowerment of the poor, and at the macro level of the state and the country through advocacy and policy planning. This two-pronged approach is reflected in the planning and implementation of all of APSA's projects.
Last year's project week in APSA was planned collaboratively by MUWCI volunteers and APSA staff. After a day's orientation on APSA's projects, our volunteers spent the rest of the week with the Child Labour project, which at the time had a campaign in progress. This allowed our volunteers to take part actively in conducting surveys. They accompanied the Child Labour project team to government institutions, visited slums, attended women's group meetings - all of which helped them arrive at a holistic picture of child labour in the context of urban poverty. They also learned to deal realistically with issues of rehabilitation, processes of law, child rights versus family rights etc.
Sangama is a sexual minorities human rights organization for individuals oppressed due to their sexual preference. Sexual minorities include, but are not limited to, hijras, kothis, jogappas, lesbians, bisexuals, homosexuals, female-to-male / male-to-female transsexuals. Sangama aims to help these people live with self-acceptance, self-respect and dignity. They especially emphasize the concerns of sexual minorities from poor and / or non-English speaking backgrounds and sex workers, who otherwise have little or no access to information and resources. Sangama aims to bring sexuality, sexual preference and gender identity into the realm of public discourse; and link it to gender, human rights development and other social movements. Sangama campaigns for the changes in the existing laws, which discriminate against sexual minorities, including sex workers and people living with HIV / AIDS (PLHA). They work with family members, friends, co-workers and partners of sexual minorities.
While at Sangama, students will have interactive field visits, watch documentaries, hear personal experiences from the community, take part in sessions on lesbian issues, workshops on human rights and sexuality and an activity session / group discussion with a college in Bangalore where Sangama conducts their awareness program. They will also participate in any campaigns that may take place during our time with them.
Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Samata is a voluntary organization working for tribal (adivasi) in the Eastern Ghats of southern India and specifically in the north coastal region of the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Samata is an advocacy and lobby group for tribal peoples’ concerns on violation of their rights; vis-à-vis lands, forests and other natural resources, violation of their human rights and dignity, problems of development negligence and lapses in government functioning, exploitation by non tribals, money-lenders, traders, and by public and private industries. Samata also works towards strengthening tribal communities, in their assertion for Self Rule and governance, and protecting their cultures and customary rights. Samata’s primary focus in the last 15 years has been on organizing the adivasi (indigenous) people to assert and protect their constitutional and traditional rights over their natural resources and traditional livelihoods. The proposed project week includes visits to mining areas and working with Samata in tribal areas. We will be closely working with Balmitra and CRYNet also.
This project week is being launched in 2012.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
I’m Pauline, and I decided to start a blog. You’re probably asking yourself: why would she do that? Well, let me explain. In October 2011 I postulated for a UWC. UWC, which is the abbreviation for United World Colleges, is an international association that was founded after the Second World War to show that living together with other cultures is not impossible. Two important people who helped with the foundation are Nelson Mandela and Queen Noor of Jordan. UWC has 13 colleges spread over the whole world (UK, Singapore, Canada, Swaziland, USA, Italy, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Norway, India, Bosnia Herzegovina, Costa Rica and the Netherlands). In a UWC college, you do the last two years of your secondary school and after those two years, you graduate with an International Baccalaureate diploma. So after this experience, you can go to a university or other good school. I’m selected by the Belgian chapter of UWC to go to the UWC in India, to the MUWCI, what is the abbreviation for Mahindra United World College India. If you want to know more about UWC, you can check the website www.uwc.be or ask me . I would recommend everyone to participate.
Each country has a selection committee to send students to a UWC. The number of selected students depends on the number of scholarships they can give. So the more sponsors, the more students have the opportunity to go to a UWC college. Belgium sends 8 students to a UWC college this year. To be selected I had to do 3 selection rounds. The first they sent me a form with all kind of questions (for example: why do you want to go to a UWC? What have you done that shows your leadership? How would your friends describe you?...). I had to fill in the form and send it back. Also, three of my teachers in secondary school had to send a recommendation letter. During the second round of selections, I had to go to the Belgian selection committee for an interview. The selection committee has UWC alumni and volunteers supporting UWC. They asked me all sort of things about my character and my life. All the selected students in the second round also did group-games and had discussions. The third and final selection round was also an interview, but more formal than the previous. I found the third round the most stressful. After several months, I was selected as one of the 8 finalists.
Now, it’s May and this weekend I will be celebrating my 16th birthday in Belgium, and my next two anniversaries I'll be celebrating in India. I’m sure I’m going to miss everyone, but I'm also sure that it will be an experience that I will never forget! I’m not staying there two full years. I have one month holydays with Christmas and three months in summer.
I really think that everyone who is interested in UWC should try to go! This was my first message and the next will follow soon! I will keep you all informed and I hope I can make you enthusiastic about UWC.