My interest in community education began in northeastern Brazil during my undergraduate years, in a beautiful city named Salvador, Brazil's answer to New Orleans.  Working with a female-led community organization in an urban slum, I was very interested in the community building that occurred in this small bit of cityscape due to the herculean efforts of several women to bring resources, community classes and youth activities into their neighborhood.  This organization had been working for 15 years before I arrived, and I found myself wondering how this community had become so self-driven and empowered, the brass ring so many top-down development projects fail to grasp.

 

After several years in Brazil and after finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked as a curriculum writer for a community education program run by the nonprofit Care For Life in Beira, Mozambique.  This program was notable in how hard it tried to solicit community involvement and stewardship in its programs, but there were many moments in which I wondered how the communities we worked in might come further to emulate what I had seen in Salvador.

 

I then taught for several years in disadvantaged communities in the US through Teach for America, teaching fourth grade in Washington Heights in New York City and third grade on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico.  On one hand, I became fascinated with the literacy acquisition process I was seeing in my students and literacy instruction in general.  Also, I became much more invested in the formal education process and the need for quality therein, especially in terms of teacher quality in low-income schools.

 

Professionally and academically, I am excited to use this time at CIE to look further into these various professional and academic interests that I have developed through my experiences, such as literacy, the balance and potential synergy between formal and non formal education, and theories of community ownership and community empowerment.

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