By Emily Parker (Bishop’s)
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.