We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Our volunteers had the opportunity to talk with Kristina Scholz again in a second webinar with her last week. This webinar focused on how to accomplish your goals as a teacher while accepting that you will be dealing with external forces that may or may not impede your work to achieve your goals. These external forces include school administration, other teachers, parents, NGOs and community leaders.
Scholz emphasized that especially for our volunteers who will be in their positions for 6 weeks, there are limited amounts of time, resources and training associated with their teaching positions. As such, it is key to “think modestly, deliver respectfully and leave gracefully”. Scholz pointed out that your expectations, of yourself, others, the facilities and resources you have access to and the culture of the place you’re in, can all act as constraints if you let them.
She also advised the volunteers to be aware that in some instances they might encounter what she coined as the “volunteer as a novelty” concept, in which volunteers are shown off around the community rather than being able to pursue the volunteer work they came to do.
Scholz gave our volunteers a few questions to think about when planning their lessons while in country. What are the institutions strengths and weaknesses? Where are you within the institution?
She emphasized that some of the most helpful ways to achieve your goals are to engage with the community and its people. Once you make the effort to connect with people on a personal level it will be much easier to have good professional relationships with them.