We want to hear your voices and ideas! On Oct 31, hundreds of leading US community activists, funders, and international organization (NGO) directors will meet at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, USA for an international conference. Part of that conference will focus on understanding what impact the revolution in Egypt is having on education and what it means for NGO’s and funders who are working in Egypt. We plan to bring a live video conference from Egypt to the conference and share opinions directly from people in Egypt who are living the experience and shaping it. We have three questions in particular we want your responses to, and will share your views with conference participants in the video conference to help shape how they act and fund in the future. Please feel free to respond in English or Arabic, in writing or in a short (60 seconds or less) video and send your responses to Kelly at email@example.com. Thank you for taking the time to offer your opinions!
For students and young people
1) How has this movement changed you as an educator? How has it changed you as a student?
2) How, if at all, has your schooling influenced your participation in civil society (demonstrations, political and social activism, etc)? Where have you/do you learn the skills needed to participate in the ongoing revolution (including communication, technical, organizational, etc)?
3) If you had unlimited power and resources to reform the Egyptian education system, what would be the most pressing and immediate reforms to be made so that students emerge better prepared to participate in Egyptian and global society, economy, and political life?
For individuals working in the NGO sector:
1) How, if at all, is your organization influenced by the ongoing revolution? Is it easier or more difficult to operate? If yes, why?
2) How, if at all, has your organization’s mission changed or remained the same in light of the revolution?
3) In your opinion, what are the most pressing issues that Egyptian and international NGOs need to address in Egypt? Is there space or a need for international NGOs in revolutionary Egypt?
Thank you very much for your time and energy. We are all three deeply inspired and moved by the Egyptian people’s efforts toward greater freedom and a vibrant and diverse civil society. We’d love to hear and share your thoughts at the upcoming international conference. This is a great opportunity for you to communicate with a diverse group of change makers. Please send your written or video responses on or before October 15th (earlier is better! We need time to sort through and prepare responses for presentation) to Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Shokran!
Note: We are working to make this conference panel available via Webinar so that you may participate virtually. Should we, insha’Allah, make that happen, we will send out an invitation and instructions for joining the conference via live Webinar.
Best wishes to you!
Kelly, Rabab, and Greg
Tag Archives: activism
Last week, I published a poll on this blog that asked readers to check whether they most often feel like an ‘insider,’ an ‘outsider,’ or a ‘straddler.’ I had a suspicion that the number of people who self-identify as outsiders would be larger than the numbers of those identifying as insiders or straddlers. It turns out (though not many people voted and the poll was only made available to people who visited this blog—so hardly a ‘scientific’ instrument) that most voters did self-identify as outsiders.
So many questions have been tugging at me these last several weeks…and perhaps the most dogged points to the tension between “Role-making, Role-Taking.” Before I introduce you to Danica Dakic (the artist who coined the above phrase) and her current exhibition at the Generali Foundation in Vienna, I would like to say a bit more.
Here are some questions that have been pulling my earlobes: Do we make a role or do we take a role? Do we make a grade or do we take a grade? Do we make love or do we take love? Are we processors or are we distributors? How many times have I heard a friend, family member, or a stranger say, “I can’t because (fill in the blank with an externally imposed rule).” What I am saying is: to what degree do we define ourselves and how much of our identity do we hand over to be shaped and defined elsewhere? What is the ratio? I AM my work. Oh really? I AM my ethnicity. Oh, really? I AM my religion. Is that right? I AM the middle child. Hmm, I see. I AM an ‘A’ student. I AM a failure. I AM the fat girl, the ugly girl, the pretty girl, the skinny girl, the problem child, the racial minority, the criminal, the prostitute, the trouble-maker, the elite…I am the rule-maker, I am the boss, I am the subordinate, I am the I am the I am the….SCREEEEECH. Will everyone shut the hell up and let me think? Context makes noise and another context makes different noises.
Nan mentioned this when we talked; she mentioned that in Japan the culture is different, the rules are different, the people are different and as a result she finds space to reconsider herself (Self). Therefore, having changed the back-drop by migrating to a new country and culture, Nan finds the freedom to begin defining herself.
Now you might imagine how excited I was to discover Danica Dakic’s new exhibit, through which she asks, “What is freedom? Can being uprooted also be seen as an opportunity and not merely as estrangement? What does it mean to lose one’s language and the ability to express oneself in new surroundings? Which roles are imposed on us?”
Indeed! Which roles ARE imposed on us and which roles do we choose to internalize? The more I reflect on these questions the stronger my conviction that we are each responsible to live creative lives. We can write or be written, we can sing or be sung, we can make our role or we can take our role, but it is in the making that we access and employ our own agency rather than passively bobbing along the party line. Think about the word authority.
AUTHORity. I prefer to be my own author. Yes, of course, there is a terrific element of the haphazard (as Alain de Bottom has said) in this life…but there is also a hell of a lot more space for radical self-transformation than we allow ourselves to inhabit and creatively engage. I’m not talking about painting, dancing, sculpting, and so on exclusively…not necessarily simply making stuff but actually making self, creating self, by whatever means suits you. Perhaps it is banking, surfing, running, reading, reflecting, building stuff, performing guerilla theatre…Let me know, I’m interested…because I LOVE radical self-transformation…it’s brilliant, dynamic, and inspiring.
And so, Dakic uses theatre, photography, video and such to strip away context, insert new context, and explore the changes that this brings. For example, “The protagonists, detached by the setting from their social, legal, medical, and cultural profiles, take to the stage with their desires, dreams, and fantasies. As actors and audience, they perform and reinvent themselves at the same time. […] They protect, create distance, and enable the performers to present the “I as an ‘other’” for the duration of the play” (http://foundation.generali.at/index.php?id=ausstellungen&L=1).
What will happen if you detach yourself from your social, legal, medical, and cultural profiles? How about your ethnic, religious, or political profiles? What will you find beneath the din of all that set dressing? As we delve into that practice of undoing…what do we find?
I have to figure out a way to get to Vienna before May 16th –the day the exhibition closes. Who is up for a jaunt to Austria?
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