Community Meets Classroom
At Wide Horizons, young adults — like Salai Jobson — from community-based organizations (CBOs) in Burma are given the opportunity to develop their English language and community development skills, while cultivating the intellectual qualities associated with effective leadership. The 10-month academic program at Wide Horizons prepares students for a one-year internship working with a local CBO or NGO where they can consolidate their skills.
“The orphanage is the place where I grew up in Burma before I came to Thailand,” Jobson writes. “I lived there for over 10 years, so I was very pleased to be able to use my skills to help them.”
One month after submitting his proposal, Jobson learned that it had been approved for funding. “I started to make preparations to return to Burma. I was excited to do the project but also a little afraid to return. I went to Yangon at the end of December 2011. I bought one battery and inverter for the orphanage on behalf of our community-based organization, the Border Green Energy Team (BGET).”
By combining a student-centered, experiential approach to education with curricular models that emphasize group work, reflective practice, and critical thinking, Wide Horizons offers a higher education program with impacts that reach beyond the classroom and into the communities it was designed to serve.
“At the orphanage, I gave a training to students and staff on how to work and maintain the battery and inverter. I spent three days with the children there. I had a chance to share my story with them and was able to encourage the orphans to try to get an education. I told them not to give up on their goals.”
Every year, a local network of community-based organizations and NGOs nominates representatives like Jobson for training at Wide Horizons. Ideal candidates have strong English skills, at least one year of work in an organization, and a dedication to developing their community.
“I wrote the proposal,” writes Jobson, “but everyone from our organization helped support me with what was needed to accomplish this project. Now the children from the orphanage are very happy because they are able to study at nighttime.”
Since its inception, over 108 students have graduated from Wide Horizons with the skills needed to efficiently, effectively and sustainably manage development projects in their community.
|Related Project: Support for Health, Institution Building, Education, and Leadership in Policy Dialogue (SHIELD) (2005-2011)|