I Cannot Find Anything To Blog About…

By Emily Parker (Bishop’s)

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

Or can I? Here goes! Since our road trip (for those driving from Montreal to Toronto) to our arrival in Malawi, many ridiculously funny, weird, sweet, awkward, and unforgettable memories have been made.

However, this blog will not discuss those memories specifically, it will be more focused on the thought that came to me while I was sitting in the out-house this afternoon… (too much information?) The thought that struck me was: “It’s easier not to be educated”. This thought was inspired by the visits we had in two near-by schools this morning. Initially, we were supposed to simply be visiting the schools and learning more about them individually, although they ended up being to some extent, tense conversations and questioning of our project; mainly the development of the grade 2 curriculum. I do not think many of us felt 100 percent comfortable answering some of the questions. This was most likely due to the fact most of the queries were making us question last year’s progress as well as our current pre-determined research focus (even though both Dr. Stonebanks and Melanie Stonebanks have made it clear nothing is set in stone).

That being said, if I take you back to the thought that came to me in the out-house which was that: “It’s easier not to be educated”, it was my direct reaction to what we went through during the discussions in the schools and how it made me question ourselves and the work we were about to embark on, but it made me question myself even more. Considering how the principals and teachers were bringing up many points that I hadn’t considered, I wondered if I was prepared enough to contribute to this project. It made me realize that the more I know, the bigger my responsibilities become because I am aware of more “bad things” and I am unable to live in “denial” or disconsciousness.

A personal example of this has been my choice to turn to vegetarianism. I could not bare to harm the animals, our planet or my health any longer and I feel like this example applies well here too. The more I know about the education system in Malawi, the more I want to help and hopefully make positive changes. The problem with the school visits were the questions brought up that really affected me, and my confidence in being a valuable asset to the team. It made me feel that if I was not educated (and made aware of all this new information) life would be easier. In reality though, this is exactly where I want to be and I might just be scared.

This challenge is one of the biggest, most significant and dearest to me. I know my time here is very limited, but I hope to be a part of a valuable change while emerging myself completely in the experience. These are my thoughts for now, I am certain they will change over and over again during the next 4 weeks.

Finally, to end with a quote from the book, The Betrayal of Africa, “while a conspiracy indeed exists, it’s not a secret to those who want to see”, which refers to the relationship between the government and Western policies. I found it relevant seeing how virtually all Westerners know what is going on in Africa, but for a multitude of reasons close their eyes or choose not to do anything about it and go about their regular lives.

3 thoughts on “I Cannot Find Anything To Blog About…

  1. Sophie

    Very interesting thoughts, Emily. Stephanie Nolen, a Globe and Mail correspondent in Africa, once said that it is better to know than to not know. It is better to be aware than to not be aware. When you are faced with difficult realities and knowledge, you can then transform those experiences and knowledge into vehicles for social change and justice. If you are never faced with difficult realities and knowledge…if you are not aware…if you are ignorant and blind to the lives that many people face, how will you ever make a positive difference in the world? How will you ever be able to strive for true social justice and change? It is definitely easier and simper to not know, to not be aware, to be ignorant…but is it better? I leave you with these thoughts. Also, you should read the book “28 stories of AIDS in Africa” by Stephanie Nolen if you haven’t already done so! 😉 Best of luck to you and your colleagues throughout this journey in Malawi.

  2. Linden

    Lovely reflection! I agree with Sofie about embracing what you know as you face the unknown. Your experiences, past and present, make the questions you ask and the actions you take that much richer. I had many of your same concerns when I was in Malawi last year and I found that questioning what we were doing and the decisions we were making actually helped me stay actively engaged. If you aren’t reflecting and questioning then you are being a passive observer of life and that is definitely not what Praxis Malawi is about. This post shows that you are already embrassing your experiences and fears in a very constructive way. When you get into the heart of curriculum planning you’ll realize just what a big part you can play in the future of that community and your own professional development. I can’t wait to follow your group’s progress. Good luck!

    1. Emily Parker

      I would really like to thank you both for the encouraging words and comments. I definitely agree that it is not only better, but so much more rewarding to know rather than not to know. I cannot believe my time in Malawi is already over… I learned so much and now even at home I reflect on moments, conversations and thoughts I had while in Malawi. The process of reflection will need to follow me forever if I want to continue to be well-educated and not ignorant to the world’s struggles of every kind. Once again, thank you both so much for your comments and input!


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