Arrival and already working hard in Congo

Michael Valliant, executive director of Giving Back to Africa, and Linnea Stifler, a member of the board and the program committee which designs the youth leadership curriculum, are in Congo through the month of October.  They are working with Centre Salisa staff and students to identify and design the next leadership curricular modules, re-establish partnerships and make new ones, and train teachers in new student centered teaching methods that are student centered and more conducive to the kind of critical thinking and inquiry necessary to develop leadership skills. 

This is the first post from their trip.

Two days.  We are here only two days which feel like a week.  In those two days we have already met and received the continued blessing of the Comite de Gestion at the Protestant University of Congo, had a first meeting  with Jackson and Rodin and visited Centre Salisa - PAID with them for further talks which included Mama Mado and Willy.  (FYI: Jackson is the founder and president of Centre Salisa-PAID. Rodin is executive director.  Mama Mado is a teacher who now also works administering the school and Willy is the principle of the school.)

Prof. Mampunza, Academic Secretary of the Protestant University of Congo, welcomed us on campus and heard our update on work with youth leaders.  He offered all the services of the university and more, telling us to call if we need anything.  He also expressed an interest in visiting the school, an interest we will attempt to fulfill next Monday or after the 20th.  Prof. Mampunza thanked us for our work and combining heart and head.  He will identify professors at UPC who could begin longitudinal research on our work.

Our meetings with Jackson, Rodin, Willy and Mama Mado could not be more encouraging.  Jerry, program manager for Giving Back to Africa, has prepared our meetings in the best way possible, arranging times and preparing each of us for these first processes.  Both Linnea and I feel very positive about the interactions.  Everyone we've talked to at PAID are, as Jerry has assured us, excited, committed, engaged and interested in more.  Mama Mado voiced my own interest in planning more modules after the success of the Clean Water Curriculum.  They all want more.

A significant goal for me was expressing our thanks and assurances of our continued partnership in developing the curriculum and introducing new pedagogy.  The difficulties Centre Salisa-PAID face are very real, current and ongoing.  We must acknowledge those respectfully while asserting our capacity to work on education.  We will continue our conversations with an eye to learning how we can help Centre Salisa-PAID increase their capacity, our second line of action.A teacher training is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.  We will have two full days introducing new pedagogy, much of it from Project Based Learning methodology.  The copy of Pedagogie par Projet we sent ahead was well received.  Rodin fairly glowed when talking about it.  We return to PAID for the day tomorrow (Friday) to observe in the classrooms.The president of Faden House Rotary Club offered to show us around Kinshasa.  This will be an opportunity to talk about a possible partnership with US-based Rotary clubs.  We are in touch with Sandrine, president of En Classe, and representatives from World Vision and are assured of meetings.

We are well ensconced at MPH, our hostel.  It is quiet and set in a calm part of Kinshasa.  We welcome coming here at the end of a day.