Arriving in Cornwall: First Impressions

I went to Cornwall at the height of tourist season (July 19-August 7) which meant crowding and price hikes in transportation and lodging. But there were benefits as well: everything was open late and I got to observe the other painfully touristy visitors to Cornwall firsthand. The ridiculous souveneirs were everywhere: anything with a pirate or seashell or authentic Cornish phrase on it was pushed on the shoppers. I even a stuffed pasty in one store. Imagine a store selling a calzone with pigtails and googly eyes. It’s just not right and left me wondering- do people actually buy them?

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A Summer Summary

My apologies for the break in blog posts. Here’s an overview of my summer research. And from here on out, I’ll be posting similarly formatted updates quite regularly.

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NonViolent Communication – Summary/Wrap Up

This summer I studied the use of nonviolent communication in youth educational programming. My personal experiences in the classroom as a teacher and interviews with Bosnian educators, volunteers, and NGO leaders provided a background in the micro-level analysis. Academic literature was the basis for macro-level research.
In both my personal experiences and academic literature I looked for themes of education issues in Bosnia since the war. My research found that educational programming in Bosnia has faced many obstacles since the war. It is divided into a variety of ministries without a common curriculum or teaching standard. It has yet to address cultural issues in classroom curriculum. Education around the world is plagued with issues – but underpaid teachers, culturally-sensitive curriculum, and segregation are three issues that I have found in both the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Academic articles and past studies on nonviolent communication showed ways to incorporate nonviolent themes into curriculum, as well as how to use NVC specific language in the classroom. I compiled a report of various games, curriculum themes, classroom management procedures that facilitated positive connections between teachers and students, and student to student.
Further research showed how schools can function as a place to build communities. Schools are where an exchange of ideas can occur to create the next generation of students with cross-cultural ties. This is the first step in building inclusive social capital, which can then create political capital and clout with the government. Currently, the Bosnian government is ranked by Freedom House as having a corruption ranking of 4.25 (1 being democratic and 7 the worst corrupt).
Generally, my interviews with teachers-in-training showed that many Bosnians did not hold this view of education as a place for people of different cultures to come together. Generally, they were not optimistic in education’s ability to be a major factor in peace-building efforts. NGO’s such as OSCE, however, were more up front about dealing with general social issues through educational initiatives that would promote peace-building. Smaller groups of volunteers such as the William & Mary Bosnia Project volunteers had both the freedom and belief in the system to incorporate non-violent communication and themes into educational programming.
Aside from general techniques, I also took a specific look at the language of nonviolent communication in the classroom. Language is a key tool in facilitating a communication process between teachers and students that fosters positive interactions and promotes learning. Additionally, teachers constantly deal with behavior problems and must correct these behaviors before they get too disruptive or aggressive. The research pinpointed certain linguistic indicators of what non-violent language looks and sounds like.
In conclusion, my research found various ties between classroom interactions, curriculum, educational policy and their influence on building a peaceful community. Themes of nonviolent communication can be incorporated into education in various ways, at every grade level.

Some more thoughts

Sometimes when I come back home on Thursday-Saturday nights I get nostalgic and I start looking over all my photos from Vietnam. Then i start thinking about all the changes that need to be made over there and I start to wonder if I’m ever going to be able to make the differences I know I can make. HIV is a serious problem in Vietnam that everyone, including myself, needs to take more seriously. Starting to write this paper is going to be tough, but I’m resolved to start putting whatever wheels of justice I can into motion. I learned in an epidemiology class last semester that justice is a major goal of healthcare. Having returned from my first med school interview, the concept is fresh in my mind. Let’s see if I can’t make something special n