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International Literacy Day

September 7, 2019

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Two community members that welcomed Christian Michalik and a group of educators from North America in Narok, Kenya in July 2019.

Jambo!

In July, I had the privilege of being welcomed by some of the folks that make up WE Villages and the Maasai and Kipsigis communities in the Mara region of Kenya. I learned about the work Canadian students and teachers contribute to the remarkable capacity building WE Villages have been co-creating in communities since the early 2000s.

I also learned about the unique and vibrant cultures of the Maasai and the Kipsigis from the very welcoming and generous people in the villages, schools, clinic and farm we visited. Our hosts, Wilson and Jackson, two amazing community leaders and ambassadors for the Maasai, cared for us and taught us so much about the beauty of their community, their culture and the natural habitat of the Mara region. For a moment in July, I experienced life through a lens that had been unknown to me, and I’m so grateful for that opportunity to widen and deepen my perspectives. 

I’ve shared a little bit about my experience this summer as part of this message supporting International Literacy Day that also builds on the one I shared last September which encouraged us to value and contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the disparities in educational outcomes in LRSD, Manitoba and Canada, when we look to other parts of the world, we live in privilege, and that privilege must fully engage us to make the goal of a fully literate global society a reality. 

While in Kenya this summer, I was inspired by the decade long volunteering and learning partnership between schools in the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB) and WE Villages. Brian Beal, SMCDSB's Director of Education and Secretary-Treasurer has spearheaded this partnership and was with us in Kenya to share about this longstanding relationship. 

My hope then is to offer students and staff in LRSD opportunities to travel to Kenya and We Village communities in other parts of the world. The opportunities I'm proposing would allow students and staff to learn about a new culture, its people, language, geography and its unique perspective on the world while working on established and proven development projects alongside members of a local community to nurture thriving learners and flourishing communities in LRSD and beyond.

I look forward to sharing and working out the details about these Volunteer Travel opportunities with staff and students in the months ahead.


Christian Michalik, Superintendent



 
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