Training For Change Workshop

*This post is written by Haverford House Fellow, Ian Gavigan ’14.

Thirty five Haverford and two Bryn Mawr students took part in a series of intense workshops on social change work with two experienced local community organizers and social justice educators, Matthew Armstead and Nico Amadour, this November. The workshops helped participants prepare their social justice work through the lenses of “organizing”– a set of tools and practices that prioritize successful movement building and community involvement. Over the course of the workshops, students were asked to envision, model, and create methods of building community-based power, bringing together coalitions, and envisioning longeScreen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.17.14 AMr-term processes of change.

Many of the participants had attended previous Bending the Arc workshops, the series of social justice trainings led by Ian Gavigan, ‘14 (Haverford House Fellow), Emily Mayer, ‘14, and Waleed Shahid, ‘13, throughout the semester, while others came to the weekend with little exposure to the previous trainings. Students represented a diverse array of existing campus organizations, including the Black Student League, TIDE, ReThink Incarceration, ETHOS, SJP, Haverford Asian Students Association, SAGA, Haverfordians for a Livable Future, and Sons of Africa, while others came with deep commitments to issues relating to the LGBTQ community, feminism, economic inequality, racial justice, and immigrant rights, to name a few.

While many students came to the workshops representing distinct groups, the hours spent together afforded them opportunities to interact, share stories and ideas, and build relationships across multiple affinity groups and social justice efforts. In small groups, students set both hypothetical and real goals, mapping out realistic strategies to effect a particular change on their campuses. The facilitators led sensitive and meaningful discussions on building solidarity among groups who do not necessarily share the same struggles while also leading the diverse group of students in exercises that helped build interpersonal and inter-group connections in the workshops themselves.

Through hearing facilitators’ own stories of fighting for environmental, LGBTQ rights, and immigrant rights, both in college and non-college settings, students learned about real life models of hard organizing work leading to successful outcomes. Students posed numerous questions about strategies for social change based on the actual examples provided by the facilitators and began to make connections to their own work at Haverford.

The weekend of Training for Change workshops provided Haverford and Bryn Mawr students valuable space for thinking more critically–and materially–about how to effectively make movements for social justice a reality on our campuses. Instead of thinking purely in either theory or community-specific problems, Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.17.04 AMparticipants learned tools for bringing proven strategies to bear on their local issues.

To follow up on these workshops, Gavigan, Mayer, and Shahid, will reconvene student participants in an effort to maintain and strengthen the bonds of the Training for Change workshops. In spring 2015, they will build relationships with campus organizers and offer individualized support to groups at Haverford. Over the course of the next semester, Gavigan will regularly host an “Organizers’ Table”–a space in which student leaders can meet, share, and further develop their work with a specific focus on activism at Haverford as they seek to make meaningful change in the college community.

National Women’s Studies Association

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Left to Right: Hannah Klein ’15, Katy Frank ’17, Maddy Durante ’16

Hannah, Katy, and Maddy attended the Annual National Women’s Studies Association Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 13-16. This year’s conference theme was FEMINIST TRANSGRESSIONS. For more information about the National Women’s Studies Association, check out their website at



Fall Break High Rocks Trip

Ruthie Cartwright ’15 and Dana Duncombe ’17 lead a group of students in a trip to High Rocks, a leadership and empowerment program for girls in West Virginia over Fall Break. Ruthie and Dana interned with High Rocks through the CPGC summer partnership internship program this past summer. Over Fall Break, they were able to strengthen the relationship with High Rocks they built over the summer by returning and bringing more students with them. Below are photos and captions by Dana from the trip.

Left photo: Shot of one of the barns at the farm where we went to pick apples that we would later press into cider.

Right photo: For two days, we helped clear brush from the High Rocks property.

Bottom photo: The BiCo students get ready to make apple cider while High Rocks AmeriCorps member, Kris, takes the wheel.

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On Food: My Cuisine in Jogja & DFD

Here are some of my favorite foods that I tried while in Jogja:

Gado-Gado or Lotek


A Javanese dish composed mainly of lightly cooked vegetables, potatoes, and rice with a rich peanut sauce. It is a sweet dish in Jogja, but it is a salty dish in more western parts of the country.

Nasi Goreng (Ayam, Bebek, Telor…)

Nasi GorengTelor     Nasi Goreng Ayam + Telor

I ate this a lot. It’s simply fried rice with egg and chicken, and it is good pretty much anywhere.


Pancake with Chocolate Ice Cream     Pancake

There are many pancake shops in Jogja. Unlike in America, pancakes are usually eaten for snacks throughout the day instead of for breakfast. The two pictured above were from Maryanne’s — a pancake and ice cream shop near Anna’s Homestay.

Mie Aceh (kuah)

Mie Aceh Kuah

A spicy dish from the Aceh region, one can choose to get it kuah (soup), or goreng (dry). This dish is not a joke — you better get it tidak pedas (without spice).

Ayam Geprek

Ayam Geprek

This is a very interesting dish: you tell the cook how many chilis you want, and he or she grinds them up on a concave stone. Then, the cook takes a piece of fried chicken and pounds it into the stone with the chilis. It can be extremely spicy, and I usually only got 1 chili or half of 1 chili. I heard at one place that the record number of chilis in one Ayam Geprek is about 200.



You cannot escape tempe if you spend any time in Yogyakarta. There are many variations, but it is usually fried soybeans, and it is really good with sambal — a common spicy sauce.



This fruit kind of tastes like a cross between an apple and an onion if you ask me, but it is everywhere in Jogja, and is worth a try.


Disaster Risk Reduction

On October 26th 2010, Yogyakarta was plagued by a series of extremely damaging eruptions. Mount Merapi–one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world–threw debris, stones, sand, and other volcanic materials at the surrounding villages.

The Indonesian government provides assistance to disaster survivors. The general philosophy of providing assistance is to promote a collaborative effort to find the best and most sustainable solution. The Department of General Affairs of Indonesia created Rekompak as a more specialized body to take a regional approach to solving reconstruction problems. Rekompak has been involved in the relief programs of many regional disasters such as the Aceh Tsunami of 2004, and the earthquake in Yogyakarta of 2008. Rekompak’s position is that of a “helper to a community”; they assist people in reconstructing their lives and planning their futures. Rekompak provides people with advice on how they should proceed, but they do not force them to take certain action (Interview with Wijayanto, July 2014). The national government of Indonesia placed the Merapi DRR program in Rekompak’s hands.

At Merapi, the Indonesian government mandated that the community within the red-zone (20 km from the summit) move to a location of lower elevation. The Merapi eruptions survivors who did not wish to move out of the red-zone were not eligible for governmental assistance. It is easy to speculate on the reasons for which the people did not move. However, the less intuitive reason has important implications: the survivors have spiritual connections to their land on Merapi. Their beliefs hold that Merapi is a holy place where gods and godesses live. Therefore, even if an eruption were to occur, the loyal locals would remain unharmed. Rekompak assisted the Merapi eruptions survivors who were willing to abandon their land in finding new real estate, and paid for the acquisition of it. Once Rekompak found the land, the survivors were responsible for partitioning it equitably among the people of the community. Once it was time to build, Rekompak assisted in finding contractors and other construction workers to do the job, but the choice of whom they would hire was ultimately given to the Merapi eruptions survivors. Likewise, when it came to the materials and other logistical decisions, the people were responsible for making them.

Rekompak’s hands-off way of guiding people is problematic because it demands unfair participation of them. The Merapi eruptions survivors lost everything and then were asked to reconstruct their villages in a new place with no knowledge of how to do it. This placed a huge burden on the people, as the institutional memory that is necessary for a project of this magnitude does not exist. IDEA conducted a social audit to assess the legitimacy and success of the program a couple of years after the DRR program had been initiated.

In July of 2014, my internship with IDEA led me to assess the DRR program with IDEA’s supervision, specifically analyzing the progress that had been made in augmenting the DRR program since IDEA’s first social audit.

Jerusalem: A Melting Pot

There is much being said about Jerusalem in the news these days. It is Israel’s capital city, though most of the world does not recognize it as so. It is a weighty city with a beautiful yet violent history. While visiting Jerusalem during my CPGC trip, I enjoyed walking the ancient streets and tried to imagine the many events that occurred there. It took a bit of imagination because the reality today is quite different.

In Jerusalem there is tension between the vast varieties of people, yet it is a product of the openness of the city. Only under Jewish control of Jerusalem has there been religious freedom for all people. And it comes at great risk and a high price as Jerusalem has been one of the hot spots for terrorism. There is no other place in the world where I could have walked the streets and find myself brushing shoulders with not only multiple sects of Judaism, but also the Eastern Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Armenians, and even Mormons. The list could go on and on. Sometimes I felt like I was walking around the ancient version of Manhattan! Walking through the old stone streets of Jerusalem were monks, Imams, and my personal favorite, the evangelical tour groups who were occasionally found singing hymns.

Within the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City lie four ancient and distinctive cultures. The Old City is divided into four quarters – the Jewish Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Armenian Quarter and Christian Quarter.

Constant streams of pilgrims visit the most holy site to the Jewish nation, the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. Five times daily, one can hear the Muslim call to prayer being sounded from the El Aksa mosque located right above the Western Wall. Armenians fulfill their daily ritual prayers in the Church of the Holy Archangels – a structure dating back to the medieval period. And throughout the year, Christians retrace the steps of Jesus, visiting the temple ruins, Gethsemane, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Garden Tomb.

The diversity of the ancient city of Jerusalem rarely, if ever, makes headline news, but it should. While Israel’s so called “intolerance” toward its Arab citizens dominates the mainstream media focus, individuals of every race and creed are granted cultural and religious freedom throughout Israel and most visibly in Jerusalem – the most holy city of the Jewish faith. This can hardly be said of any other country in the region and certainly not Saudi Arabia which will not even permit a Jewish person entrance into their country or any non-Muslim/infidel in Mecca.

Jerusalem is a shining example of religious and cultural freedom in an area of the world where religious persecution is practiced regularly and quite brutally. Jerusalem has seen much bloodshed in the past from religious conquests to dominate the region and the minds of her citizens. Thankfully today, there is freedom of conscience for all people. I am thankful to Israel and the Jewish people that I, as a Christian and a foreigner, was able to visit and celebrate the life of Jesus and worship freely without fear of intimidation or persecution.

Working with Unite for Sight in Ghana

I honestly don’t know where to start in terms of how things have been. I’ve been conducting research with Unite for Sight (UFS) to determine whether or not patients who have received free cataracts sugery (funded by UFS) think other people who have cataracts in Ghana will be willing to contribute a little money to the cost of treatment. I’m learning a lot about how to conduct research and how to work with interpreters. I’ve been keeping in touch with Arancha and she has been absolutely great at helping with the research process and helping me put things into perspective.

Since UFS works with different eye clinics in Ghana, I’ve also had the opportunity to work in different parts of Ghana. My first week, I worked with Crystal Eye clinic on their overnight outreach to Takarodi in the western region of Ghana. Conducting research has also allowed me to interact with Ghanians which I’ve enjoyed. During outreaches, volunteers help eye clinic staff by assisting with registration, conducting visual acuity testing, data entry, or dispensing medication. Each day, we travel to communities in the region and help the clinics to provide eye care to a number of people. Depending the location, the number of the people at the outreaches ranges from 100 to over 300 people per day. The team is usually made up of 1 or 2 optometrists, 1 or 2 drivers, local volunteers, and UFS volunteers. My day typically starts with interviews with patients who have had cataract surgery. After that, I spend the rest of the day helping out with visual acuity, data entry, or dispensing. I’ve also had the opportunity to observe cataract and pterygium surgeries.

So far, I’ve worked with clinics in Takarodi/Sekondi (western region), Kumasi (Ashanti Region), Elubo and Nzema (western region near the border of Ghana and Ivory Coast). I could see the Ivory Coast from where the outreach was located which was pretty cool.

On our way back from an outreach to Elubo, the van I was in had an accident (I’m okay and so is everyone who was involved). The van ran into an old man that was trying to cross the road. It was dark and the road was bumpy and dusty so the driver didn’t see the old man on time. The man was rushed to the hospital and thankfully only suffered a minor cut to the head and a fractured femur (He’s recocvering well). While he was rushed to the hospital, myself and others who were in the van spent an hour surrounded by villagers on the side of the road while we waited for another ride to where we were lodging. We ended up spending an extra night in the area because the van’s windscreen was damaged and needed to be replaced. That was quite an experience.

On a lighter note, I’ve picked up some twi and it’s been fun and interesting interacting with locals, clinic staff, volunteers, and Nigerians that I’ve ran into. People often think I’m Ghanian and are surprised or even displeased when I say that I don’t really understand the language. I’ve also enjoyed spending time at the cultural center, museums, markets, Jamestown, Osu, and the kente weaving village in Kumasi.

I’ve definitely expereinced a lot of different emotions while being here (good and bad) but overall, my experience has been positive. It’s been a dose of reality but also very strengthening and inspiring.

Charity Eye Clinic outreach team in Kumasi

Charity Eye Clinic outreach team in Kumasi

A visual acuity station

A visual acuity station

Staring at the Ivory Coast from Ghana

Staring at the Ivory Coast from Ghana

Dr. James Clarke performing cataract surgery at Crystal Eye Clinic in Accra

Dr. James Clarke performing cataract surgery at Crystal Eye Clinic in Accra

Gandrung: A Look at “Cultural Preservation” Through Dance

Dance has always played a big role in Indonesia and it has changed dramatically over time. The research methodologies course I am currently taking at UGM featured a guest lecturer recently who grew up in West Java. Dyah–a professor of Dance and Southeast Asian Studies–talked to us about narrative and memory in Indonesia throughout the Soeharto period. She talked about a traditional dance that has undergone many changes since 1965: Gandrung. She broke up her lecture into two parts: the narrative of the dance, and the impact of surveillance on its role in the community.

Professor Dyah at UGM.

Professor Dyah at UGM.


Dyah learned the Gandrung during her childhood in West Java, from her grandmother. Before the massacres of 1965, the traditional dance was performed by women in order to ensure the prosperity of the year’s harvest. It was not a performance in the modern sense of the word (with makeup and costumes), but an important ritual that brought prosperity to the village. To Dyah, the dance was empowering because it enabled the women of the village to be leaders in providing for themselves and others; a feminist ideal very engrained in the community’s culture. Today, however, the narrative of the dance is quite different.


Before 1965, in a stereotypical household, the mother planted rice, and the father tended to the buffalo. This created a sort of equality between the role of the husband and wife in a family in which both supported the land and the family. In 1965, Soeharto’s new regime brought about an anticommunist movement, which violently changed Indonesian culture. The “equitable” way the men and women of Western Java shared roles in the household was deemed inherently communist by the state, and was therefore terminated. The military massacred many villagers in the name of “democracy”. This changed the way villages farmed and because the state mandated a male-dominated economic system, there was no longer a reason for the women to perform the Gandrung.

In 1998, when the anticommunism movement ended, the dance returned as a way for Indonesian people to discover their identities and to remember their history. It was brought back–under the supervision of the state–in the form of grand performances with a large focus on aesthetics. The purpose of the dance for the dancers changed from nourishing the village in the pre-1965 period, to discovering personal identity today. The modern version of the dance also attempts to tell people how to remember the past. Because the state supervises national performances, it effectively rewrites memory to shape morale. Dyah implored us to consider the possibility of revisionism when conducting our research projects.

The Soldier and the Frog: Jerusalem on a Friday Morning

The profile of the IDF soldier reminded me of my science lab partner in the twelfth grade. We were put together because both of us had been sick the day lab partners were assigned. Neither of us had spoken to the other person before our senior year, and we often argued over the answers to lab reports or who got to dissect the frog. The soldier had the same straight nose, the same tension in his shoulders that I had seen when my lab partner peered over his text book or scantron test sheet, he was a nervous test taker and would chew on the ends of all his pencils. I wondered if the soldier would have argued with me, and if he, like my lab partner, would eventually give in and let me make the first incision in the frog dissection .

I was staring at the soldier, blatantly staring, in a way that was probably impolite and thinking about frogs as our tour guide hustled our group through the barricade recently placed in front of the gate we had just hours before passed through easily.

I spent the days leading up to this blog post thinking about what I was going to write about. I realize now that this was a bit silly, since its hard to plan on a reflection on something that hasn’t happened yet. I knew all week that Friday would be our trip to the Mount of Olives, and my plan was to have a section about how the Mount of Olives was a difficult sight to miss, and how it would still surprise me when I turned my head and looked over at the ascending gravestones, and about how even though we didn’t tour it until Friday it had been a continuous presence among all our tours of the Old City. I expected there to be something strange about reorienting ourselves and looking out at a city where we had spent the last week wandering through searching for good falafel and cool cotton pants with elephants on them, neither of which was hard to find.

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Mary Magdalena Church and View of Old city from Mount of Olives

But, of course, its ridiculous to try and write about a view before seeing it (forgive my cheesy statement). Although, being on the Mount of Olives was a moment of “reorientation,” reframing the city once again. Being on the Mount of Olives, much like being in the city of Jerusalem itself, was a moment of locating ourselves within centuries of text and the space within a city that is very much a part of current world.

When I remember the Mount of Olives I remember the centuries of gravestones along with the woman I met on the path who told me she liked my scarf and asked where I was from. I remember our tour guide pointing out the views of the Temple Mount as I shared water bottle with classmate on what was the hottest day of the trip. And in what was perhaps the most jarring moment of the trip I remember reentering the Old City after a potential suicide bomber had been caught in the West Bank – I remember staring at a boy with the gun who reminded me of the smell of sharpened pencils and high school science classrooms. We walked through the same streets that we had been exploring for the past week, retraced the Via Dolorosa among barricades and chaos. The place that had become increasingly familiar was once again distant, and I was no longer tasked with locating myself within the city but only with moving through it.

As the trip progressed it became increasingly clear how much time we needed in Jerusalem…and how extraordinary it was to get to spend ten days in the city. Now, after being back for six weeks (oh gosh, this blog post really is late), I can picture the walk from our hostel to Jaffa gate, see the Old City, the Mount of Olives and retrace the paths we walked. The most extraordinary part of the trip (and perhaps this is something unique to the city itself) was that “reorienting” ourselves was a continuous process – and one that continued even after our return home.

Brigitta Schuchert

Que cho? Aqui estamos en la ciudad de Mexico, Viviendo la vida!

The past month and a half has been thrilling, crazy, busy and fun for us Casa de Los Amigos interns, not to mention all of the excitement and craziness of the world cup que ha sido pasando aqui en Mexico. When we first arrived in La Casa, everyone could smell, that fresh meat had arrived, us. Although we were not accustomed to how things worked, everyone was so open and willing to help with our orientation of the work in the casa and of the city. Throughout our time here in Mexico, we have each been working with our partner organizations along with la casa. Central American migration through Mexico has become the hot topic in the media right now around the world. Everyday a new story comes out about unaccompanied Central American youth migrating to the United States. We have been working first hand with this population the last couple months.

John and I, Rafa, have been working in a Migrant Shelter called Casa de Tochan (home in Nauhtl) which is homed to around 30 migrants all from Central America. The Migrants are mainly young boys ranging from the ages of 16 to 25. Right now our project is to take the migrants out to do exercise mainly their favorite soccer. We organize games and try to get them out of the shelter as much as possible to keep their minds off the trauma and stress of their lives. It’s been amazing to connect with the migrants and be able to share the common language of soccer.

Hey guys, it’s Jake; so far, my time in Mexico has been enormously fun and rewarding. At the Casa, I’ve cooked breakfast and dinner, assisted in migration and economic justice programs, and worked at the Casa’s reception, assisting and interacting with the Casa’s diverse group of guests and spreading the word about its work. I’ve also spent a great deal of time working at Barrio Activo, an after-school program for marginalized children, in helping the kids with their homework and serving as a positive role model to them, I play a small part in the mission to steer them away from the drugs and gangs that pervade their neighborhood. Next week, I will begin working as a counselor at Barrio Activo’s summer program, teaching flag football and promoting peace and greater cultural understanding! It’s been a great summer, and I look forward to ending it on the highest of notes.

Mexico is and has been a great place for us to learn and experience migration first hand. The whole atmosphere here in La cuidad de Mexico has been tremendous, no doubt about it. And like everyone here in la casa we have had our share of getting sick and dehydrated, but that does not keep us from doing our work and enjoying everything that Mexico has to offer. Well that is all for now. We will try to keep in touch and post more often. A la proxima amig@s. Camara weis!

Love, Jake, Rafa y John (JRJ)