Stories from the field

Day 2016-07-31

Emma De Vynck – Blog 4: Introducing SomChai, a KSDC student

Life at the Karenni Social Development Centre (KSDC) rolls on. Rainy season has hit with full force, bringing with it rice planting season, innumerable shades of green, and beautiful foggy mornings. Now that I’ve found a daily rhythm, the days gather momentum and evolve into weeks with quick ease. I’ve had to catch myself as I settle into that rhythmic “normalcy”–I’m only here about 7 months–I don’t want to fall into a complacent lull. At the same time, finding rhythm is a great comfort, although in all honesty I’m shaken out of rhythm often enough to stay meaningfully uncomfortable. It is the “settling” and “unsettling” process, day in, day out. That may be the only constant to this “rhythm”.

 As I’ve considered what to explore in this third blog, my wandering mind has found all sorts of half-baked ideas–something on the joys of linguistic diversity at KSDC? A consideration of teaching when you’re not trained as a teacher and yet you’ve been imbued with sudden respect and responsibility? An ode to the motorbike? Or even a look at religious beliefs, religious diversity, and the expressions of religious tolerance and grace among the students? Maybe these thoughts will have their day of analysis.

For this month, I’m moving away from analysis and offering instead an interview with a KSDC Advanced Course student, SomChai. Listening to our chat might provide a bit of a glimpse into life in this corner of the world! I hope the audio is manageable–you can hear chickens, dogs, and other students in the background. I recommend you listen with headphones because the voices are a bit quiet!

In one of my first conversations with SomChai, he told me that we only receive knowledge so that we can share it. Sharing knowledgeis very important to him.

SomChai was raised in Karenni Refugee Camp 1, and as he notes in our chat, his family originally comes from Shan State in Myanmar. 

In our discussion he talks about the importance of KSDC for his community and the value of English for his future political goals. He also shares about his Shan culture, among other conversational tidbits.

I hope you enjoy hearing a bit about who he is.



Danae Zachari – Blog 3: Interview with Gloria Martinez – Senior program manager at MSRI

In this podcast I am interviewing Gloria Martinez, the senior program manager at the Malaysian Social Research Institute, on child protection policies and children’s rights. Gloria introduced a child protection policy at MSRI and has organized workshops and training for staff that I have been fortunate to attend. Over the past couple of months, I have been learning and growing in so many ways. How to safeguard children’s wellbeing and how to be mindful of the long-term impact our actions have on young individuals, are a big part of my learning experience. 

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