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My brain feels full. It’s been two months since I left Virginia for Bolivia and then Bogotá, Colombia. Our time here in Bogotá so far has been spent learning about the history of MCC and Colombia, culture, language, service, advocacy, dos and don’ts, conflict, peace making, roles, and how all these things fit together in the “big picture.” Things make sense but I also feel even more confused. Colombia is complex.

One thing we recently talked about in our last days of orientation was the different levels or generations of work and development that MCC works in worldwide and how specifically an MCC worker fits in.

The levels are:

  • Providing emergency funds
  • Sending workers with specific skills to different places across the globe.
  • Working with facilitating and analyzing local and national issues.
  • Supporting social movements between communities to help bring about change. (Model used in Colombia)

These four levels can be described in a well-known model. For example,Giles photo-edit

  • If you give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, but…
  • If you teach him how to fish he’ll eat for a lifetime.
  • Who owns the lake or has access to the lake?
  • What are fishermen doing in other lakes or rivers nearby?

What I find interesting is that while all four models can help to supplement social and economic change, the higher level you go the more complex structures become and the broader the change that is possible.

Along these same lines, another thing we discussed is the role MCC plays in communities with its workers. There is a debate if it is better to have a national local worker who knows the context and the language or to have an outsider, unfamiliar with many things but full of new and fresh ideas. This is an interesting debate because both types of workers can certainly help to bring about change. However every context is different and that context determines what type of worker is needed. In Seed, for example, the thought is to bring in outsiders to work along with local churches and local partners. A Seed worker is not taking a job that a local can do but rather working with locals to build relationships, look at issues from different angles, or simply be an accompanying presence.

Giles2-editWhile hearing about these different models added some clarity, it also added to the abstractness of my role. Orientation has been eye opening but I am ready to add some context and real life examples to what we have been talking about the past two months.


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