The ASA Program provided a Seminar week for us interns in Sandkrug, Oldenburg. This way, we got to know about other projects in ASA and learn together through different activities. Here we collected some experiences within our team. Have a nice read:)
What was your favorite activity and which format did you like best?
Flo-I enjoyed the participants’ “space to change” where we were granted the space to stage our own short format. I was part of a group discussing “NGO's dependency on (institutionalized) donors”. Since GlobalMatch is in this exact role, I was able to get to know multiple perspectives about the downside of the dependencies which are created by the power of the resource allocation. Furthermore, I was stunned by the power and role of political actors regarding this issue.
Moni-My favorite format was the self-organized workshops by tutors and participants, as well. We worked together on giving space to topics that are important to the people in the seminar. We gave each other the opportunity to learn from each other's prior knowledge. The exchange offered very often new perspectives on any given topic. The option to have a platform for our personal ideas and interests motivated me the most that week. Furthermore, we got to know each other intensely and made contact with other people sharing our interests to explore them together. I participated in the one organized by my colleague Caesar about Critical Whiteness and Voluntourism. The discussion in the space helped me to reflect on my own experience in GlobalMatch further. Additionally, my colleague OP and I create a platform for the topic of gender-based and domestic violence against any gender. We started very interesting discussions developing a new perception about that particular topic by hearing perspectives from Germany and Uganda.
Op-The most interesting thing was to get a break after a long period of learning, in the short workshop on how to kill stress and "make people happy". It captivated my attention to really find out how someone can make himself happy and chilling out with new friends at any time was also very interesting in one way or another. The networking nights moreover with the bonfire 🔥 in the middle of the forest is such an amazing memory. It's also imperative to note that it was as well nice for me to put in my insights in the breakout session moderated by Tabea: Foreign Aid (Development Aid) with its dependencies. Furthermore, I put my efforts into seeking to strike a balance between the Global North-South remuneration and ASA tutor recruitment structure which seems to be unbalanced, though no specific answer was obtained. It was so interesting for us as a group to discuss and create awareness of such structures that exist not only in the world but also in the ASA program.
(Caesar ‘here’)…I had a series of fascinating activities and experiences, however, my favorite activity was joining hands with some participants and we organized a workshop on White-Saviorism. What was so coincidentally beautiful was that in spite of us working in different organizations, we managed to come up with some amazing pieces of work. We managed to make up a PowerPoint presentation on the colonial histories and legacies of White Saviorism, and 'Voluntourism'. For us while we presented, we felt all this was partly an economic argument about the merits of aid versus trade based on a leveled ground, charity versus dignity, and of impulsively stepping in to ‘help’ versus what people might actually want. We felt it was increasingly a fraught aspect about race, and the long shadow cast by race itself and the colonial continuities.
And definitely while doing this, there were lots of interactions with the participants and allowing free expressions without judging each other’s perspectives and thoughts was something so amazing and empowering. Such a learning journey together.
-On the other hand, as a GlobalMatch member who ardently believes there are lots of power imbalances between the South-North divide and feels the audacity for change-imperatively an urgent change, I felt so empowered speaking against the injustices and structural remuneration inequalities existing within the ASA program for ages and I was so morale boosted giving out my voice of change. Hopefully, the ASA structures could change for equality in payments between participants coming from the GS and GN, and to me it means making the world better for everyone else and I believe this is not ‘rocket science’ for everyone to understand.
-And another activity and workshop that was really impressive and motivating for me to speak about was the Gender equality workshop organized by some of the tutors. And myself growing up most of my life in a patriarchy society with a lot of gender imbalances, I felt the need to participate in this workshop as well as learning and listening to many perspectives and experiences from participants in both Hemispheres, and how they are affected was such a learning and an emotional experience for me, and I hope I can take back this to my rural communities what perspectives I learned and shared and then to try to sensitize members, that ‘It is not equality if it is not equality for everyone’, irrespective of gender, sex, religion, color of one’s skin, and so many other inequalities existing in my community where I come from. Speaking all these in an open space and a free-manner interaction maneuvering it with eye-catching PowerPoint presentations, as well as reflecting on the statistics and so much more, was a brilliant piece of idea from the tutors.
-Nevertheless, I will not forget this as well. Another activity was when the program gave us an opportunity to write ‘love’ letters to each other, and in a spontaneous form. I love to make friends, and writing a few letters to some participants was something beautifully magical for me. I was happy to read so many inspirationally moving letters from some participants. And ahh…sometimes deeper relationships can develop out of such, isn’t it? Then, I am glad I made some good friends.
The photo opportunity moments for the whole group was such a memorable experience for me(us) as well. Fantastic memories were garnered, and well…pictures speak volumes, if you know what I mean. And lastly, but not least, I was christened with the name "Caesar Here",lol.
What other project in the Program would you like to try out and why?
Caesar-A project I would envision myself doing is an Ambulance free services project from some participants from Ghana and Germany. Their goal is to provide free ambulance services to locals and underprivileged communities in rural Ghana. With just a call away, ambulatory services are provided and I believe this sounds like a life saving project and myself coming from Namalemba, a rural village in the Eastern part of Uganda, I feel such a service is very important. I'll never forget when I lost an uncle because we lacked an ambulance for him to be taken to the hospital in time. Therefore, I believe such services are empowering especially to the unprivileged communities.
Most important/strongest personal learning?
Flo-In one exercise we were put in a character. The characters are described besides certain socio-economic aspects, sexuality, or origin, while also leaving space for interpretation. The exercise put me in the role of an unemployed person living in a big Italian city. All participants stood in line, looking straight forward (turning was not allowed). The moderator then gave a statement, and each person had to individually decide whether it applies to her/his character or not. If applicable, you must step one step forward. I’ll just give some of the statements as an example: “You don’t fear kissing the person you love in public”; “You worry about your future and the consequences of climate change”; “You can politically participate in the country you live in”.
What I found stunning about this game was that even though I considered my character being from a lower social class, and therefore feel disadvantaged, there were so many people ending up in this “game” in a worse position. This once again reminded me of the lucky situation I was born in. Moreover, I should envision this learning experience more often and not take my position for granted.
Caesar-Organizing open space workshops and different activities with the aim of fostering a learning objective for a big group of diverse participants like we were was something magical the ASA program did and I learned from.
My other strongest sense of empowerment and learning was when the organizers gave us the audacity and the opportunity to envision our own workshop ideas and present them to the participants in an open space manner. This made us not mere participants and attendees and listeners but also workshop (organizers) and this was very inclusive and a well thought out idea by the ASA program. I felt my voice was heard when I was given the opportunity to organize something that was spontaneously out of scratch. Imagine, most participants I spoke to felt like a week long of these seminars was not enough for them.
Most participants yearned for more because everything was really organized well and there were a lot of learning experiences and the individual interactions and sports activities were also amazing experiences, and organizing such with so much diversity and inclusiveness and making every participant interested for more was something magical the program did. Fascinating times.
What did you miss out on?
Flo-Unfortunately, I was not able to make it to Caesar’s “white saviorism” workshop! This would have been a great opportunity to get some critical input about this crucial topic. Also, it would’ve encouraged me to question my personal role in society.
Caesar-Omgg…Missing out on the workshop organized by my fellow colleagues Moni(my secret sharer) and OP(my bad man) is something I regret. The workshop was about gender based violence on any gender, a topic so much at the helm of my thoughts. I also missed out on what my other colleague and ‘spikeball mate’ Flo had to organize—something about the NGOs' adverse dependency on institutions for aid, and what this brings about. It was regrettable too that I missed this.
However, I am glad that we managed to attend quite a few extra workshops and activities together and I was amused that we shared a tutor together too, and therefore many perspectives were shared that I presumably had missed out.
In a nutshell, I take a lot of positives from most of these.
Concrete learning for GlobalMatch?
Caesar-GlobalMatch as an organization is structurally weak. And I believe making structures enables employees or workers to have more clarity on projects, enabling consistent and proper decision making by assigning responsibilities and organizing workflow and making sure tasks are made on time. However, I also believe this can be done without necessarily creating hierarchies. And this is what GlobalMatch has been lacking over the years.
Compared to the ASA Program, GlobalMatch has not managed to organize workshops of such a caliber because it lacks these kinds of formidable reliable structures. We can still have and impose non-hierarchical structural adjustments and see where this takes us as an organization. To me I felt this is something GlobalMatch needs to borrow a leaf from and with such, we could bring about the change we want to spread in the world. The change to equality and inclusiveness for all.
How did the seminar help you with your internship?
Moni-My first impression is that the seminar will help me to put context around my internship and how we are connected to the ASA program. In my opinion, we need to reflect very critically on which relation the importance of personal growth and learning stands to the impact of our projects. I enjoyed hearing about all the other projects and it helped me to understand that our challenges were not unique.
The talks with other participants, especially during the tutorials, helped to find some strategies on how we can overcome some problems. Besides that, we were given a great opportunity to connect to projects with a similar topic. For example, we could compare possible grant applications and support each other by sharing information. I could see how GlobalMatch would profit from more co-operations with other NGOs. Not reinventing the wheel is also one of my personal learnings. There is a big community to support and joining efforts will get us further!
In which topics (workshops) did you learn something new?
Moni-One optional seminar was dedicated to de-growth. I chose this particular one because I had little knowledge about economics but I am very interested in anti-capitalist theories. The degrowth seminar connected economics and colonialism. It was exciting to hear different perspectives from different contexts, especially with having some people located in Global North and some in the Global South. One exercise left us with the task to compare well-being and the GDP (gross domestic product) which raised the question from the first ASA seminar. What is development? Different perspectives were brought up on the question if Degrowth is a concept exclusively for the Global North. I’m looking forward to continuing this discussion in our workshop with the K20 Projekthaus - Living Utopia and EPIZ Göttingen (Entwicklungspolitisches Informationszentrum).
What did you not like out of the whole program? In other words-What would have been done better?
Caesar-Generally,I was not impressed with having lots of activities after activities without concrete time for breaks and personal interactions and co-curricular activities like sports and others were given less priority. Also the food allocations were really not that inclusive.
Because this was a very diverse group of people from all continents of the world, food preferences and cuisines for different continents would have been taken care of in some way-at least with suggestions and I feel every background, at least continent-wise had to feel a bit of inclusiveness especially in the dishes served. However, we are only humans and this is a learning experience for everyone involved.
In a nutshell, I take a lot of positives from most of these. Thank you!