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Fall 2000 - Spring 2001
New CIE Center Members

Spring 2001

Majid Khan, Mbarou Gassama-Mbaye, Mukul Acharya

Muhammad Majid Khan

Majid KhanI am Muhammad Majid Khan from Pakistan-Azad Jammu and Kashmir, a beautiful place on the earth. I have a degree in Electrical Engineering in addition to a post-graduate diploma in Information Technology. I come from a part of the world which is at the high risk of war-refugees pouring in at any time.

Since 1990 I have been working with different NGO's to carry out rehabilitation work in refugee camps and to impart basic technical skills to the youth. During my work with National Rural Support Program I gained valuable experience about rural life. I drafted a proposal about establishing vocational training institutes in rural areas. Since 1999 I have been working with Northern Education Project, a World Bank funded project to provide technical assistance in educational management information systems, institutional capacity building, community participation, and restructuring of the department of education for the government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir-Pakistan.

During my stay at CIE I would like to focus my studies on the role of education in rural development and educational management.

Mbarou Gassama-Mbaye

I am Mbarou Gassama–Mbaye, from Senegal West Africa. I earned my BA in economics from Mohamed 5th University in Morocco. After graduating in 1981, I went back to Senegal, where I earned my MA from the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning--a United Nations Institution located in Dakar. I worked for this institution as a researcher focused on women and development issues. I worked also for the Government in the Ministry of Economics Affairs, Finances and planning as an economic researcher in 1987, and as regional planner from 1997 to 2001.

Mbarou GassamaAs an African woman, I have always been interested in women's issues such as cultural and religious barriers to girls' attendance in primary school. From 1993 to 1995, I was a member of the National Committee for Girls' Attendance in Primary School and I was involved in research projects dealing with girl drop-outs in primary schools.

After the Beijing Conference, we African women decided to create a network named RAFET, a French acronym for African network of working women (in the Woloff language RAFET means beautiful). The main objective of RAFET is to promote African working women. This organization includes10 countries: Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Togo, Cameroon, Rwanda and Chad. Our main strategies are based on consciousness raising through training in Social law, gender issues, and popular economics. Currently our activities are supported by Senegalese government, Friedrich Ebert Foundation (German foundation), and Oxfam America. Currently, the Center for Popular Economics based in the University of Massachusetts Amherst is providing technical support to RAFET to develop a curriculum for future female West African trainers in popular economics. Some of our members get financial support to attend conferences from USAID and French cooperation.

Since we are concerned with educated women as well as illiterate women, we would like to develop more popular techniques. I think that CIE is an ideal place to learn more about popular education and develop educational skills.

Mukul Acharya

I grew up in a highly structured Brahmin family in Nepal and now I am here at the Center for International Education for my Master's Degree after working in the field of nonformal education and community development for about a decade. I began to learn about the nonformal education myself in a nonformal setting at the grassroots level and am now hoping that during my time at CIE I will be able to sharpen my learning and tools which will be instrumental to my work in the future.

Mukul AcharyaBeginning as a trainer in the field of development in February 1992, I had the opportunity to train over 1,100 staff members from various NGOs in Nepal. My embarkation on the field of development was the result of my frequent visits to rural areas of Nepal during my four and half years of work in the Central Bureau of Statistics. In those days, I got to know and experience rural lives and conditions of Nepal.

After that I joined the team which implemented a two year-program, called Women in Business (WIB). WIB was the program based on the demand of the participants of the Women Reading for Development (WORD) Project, largest women's literacy project in the history of Nepal which reached out over 400,000 women in the three years of the project life. WIB not only took the literacy one step further producing self-instruction reading materials for the neo-literate women, but also combined the sophisticated concept of micro finance simplifying it to make it within their grasp.

In the last three years I was involved in the Women's Empowerment Program (WEP) of Nepal which is still going on, supporting over 120,000 women participating in more than 7,000 women's economic groups. As the Program Development Coordinator my responsibility included participation in the overall design and development of the program. However, the majority of my time was devoted to training because I was leading the team of the Master Trainers. The team would design, develop and deliver 3-5 day training sessions every month to 134 Trainers who, in turn, would train thousands of representatives from the groups and staff of other NGOs every month.

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Fall 2000


Fall 2000

Front Row (left to right): Natalia Oleshko, Karin Wachter, Natasha Kovalyova, Elena Khatskevich, Kaylen Jorgensen, Fulgence Swai

Back Row (left to right): Ara Rostomyan, Yuri Yerastov, Amadou Kamara

Amadou Kamara - I come from Liberia. In 1986, I earned an undergraduate degree in History from the University of Liberia (UL), and subsequently served as teaching assistant at the UL Department of History.

I've lived in Guinea as a refugee for 10 years. Following the outbreak of civil war in my country in 1990, I trekked to Guinea where I joined other Liberian educators to organize schools for children of school age within the refugee community. When the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a new York based relief program in 1991, I was hired as educator coordinator and subsequently promoted to the position of regional school administrator (RSA).

In 1996, I resigned from the position of RSA and established a not-for-profit organization in N'Zerekore, Guinea; named the Rain Forest Development Center (RDC). The main objective of RDC was to provide diverse forms of institutional capacity building support to refugee self-help groups as well as local Guinean non-governmental organizations in Guinean Forest Region. In line with its objectives, RDC implemented the institutional capacity building project (1996-98) with financial support from Foundation DOEN in the Netherlands. Through this project, 150-200 staff members of self-help groups and local NGO's acquired skills and knowledge in NGO leadership and management, project planning and monitoring and gender and development.

I am interested in using education and training as a vehicle for poverty alleviation in resource poor communities, particularly in West Africa. Therefore, my period of study at CIE will create an opportunity to develop the expertise: and hence, acquire professional career.

Elena Khatskevich – I am from Russia, in fact from its Siberian part. Back at home I work as a Elena Khatskevichjunior lecturer at the School of Foreign Languages of Buryat State University in Ulan-Ude. There I taught English and worked as an interpreter for the environmentalists and tourists coming to see Lake Baikal. I came to study at UMass after being selected by the Muskie Fellowship program. I am here in a Master's program at CIE for the next two years.

My research interests center around the teaching and learning of foreign languages, particularly English as a foreign language. I believe that when teaching a language we shouldn't teach only grammar and vocabulary, but try to teach the culture of the people who speak the language. At the same time, we shouldn't impose another culture on the students; we should help them realize that their culture is as unique and wonderful as any other, thus any lesson in a foreign language should be more than a thorough study of grammar or a mere translation. It should be a dialogue of cultures. I am interested in studying American society and culture. Cultural studies in general interest me very much. What excites me is that I have a wonderful opportunity to travel–I'm very fond of traveling–and to make a lot of friends. As for my hobbies, I like hiking.

Hi! My name is Natalie Oleshko. My native country is Ukraine which is the second biggest country in Europe after France. I was born and grew up in Cherkassy, a picturesque place, located on a right bank of the Dnipro river. I graduated from the local University with a degree in education and English linguistics. After that I worked at Peace Corps Ukraine as a training instructor. This job gave me a rich experience in intercultural communication.

My goal in coming to UMass is to fulfill my Master program in the field of International Education. I also want to get to know about American style of life and its diversity from first hand experience. I hope the knowledge I gain during my study in America will be the guarantee of my future accomplishments on the way of building democratic society in my country.

Karin Wachter – I just moved to Amherst from Boulder, Colorado where I was spending long overdue time with my immediate family. I returned from Mauritania at the end of December, having completed a 7 month contract with Peace Corps overseeing the transition of their training program from the traditional center-based model to a community-based one. Before that I had spent over 2 years working as a Peace Corps Volunteer doing community health work in semi-urban and rural areas, as well as designing and implementing training programs. My background is in grassroots community development, as well as in theater. I'm interested in gaining more domestic development experience and getting involved in projects in the area. I'm looking forward to meeting and getting to know everyone while I work towards my Masters here at CIE.

Ara Rostomyan–After graduating from the Department of Social Studies and Foreign Languages at Yerevan State Institute of Foreign Languages, I worked as a Chief Specialist at the Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia. My responsibilities included coordination and regulation of foreign contacts in the field of education in Armenia. I served as a liaison and main contact between the Ministry of Education and Science and international donor organizations, foreign embassies and NGO's working in the field of education and science in Armenia.

After finishing my Master's Degree at the University of Massachusetts my motto will be "to point out the ways to the fulfillment of my goals in today's reality and to address all arising problems using my knowledge, energy, experience and all possible state-social means and opportunities". I sincerely hope that the knowledge and skills that I'll get in the USA can help me not only to improve the work of my organization but also will allow me to make my own contribution to my homeland on its not easy way to democracy and development.

Kaylen Jorgensen comes from Texas where she received a bachelor's in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. After working at a small television station in South Carolina she ventured to West Africa, Mauritania with the United States Peace Corps to work with women's cooperatives as an agro-forestry volunteer. During this time she began to learn about participatory approaches to development and the need for better listening skills by development workers. This opportunity paved the way for her to travel to South Africa as an evaluation consultant with World Vision South Africa in 1996. Aside from the consultancy she enjoyed sailing at Cape Town, climbing Table Mountain and the beautiful countryside and wildlife. She also visited Zimbabwe where she tried white-water rafting and bungee-cord jumping.

After leaving Africa she traveled to Australia where she worked with the Western Fisheries Department after spending a few months bicycling down the East Coast of Australia. On her way back to the U.S. she spent time in Fiji, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and finally Hawaii where she worked with an aqua-culture school. For the past couple of years she has taught environmental education at various Nature Classroom sites in the New England area to grades 3-8. She is excited to be part of the Center for International Education and looks forward to learning more about gender issues and nonformal education.

Natasha Kovalyova is a first year master candidate in International Education Program. She has done her undergraduate studies in foreign languages in Russia and taught English at secondary school as well as the university level. She also completed a graduate course in linguistics at St. Petersburg State University. Her scholarly interests range from ESL/EFL teaching to cognitive science, to grammar and semantics. She won a Fulbright scholarship in 1994, spending an academic year in Atlanta, Georgia.

She has a strong interest in helping her university make more effective use of the resources offered by international students on campus. She wants to study how U.S. universities organize the interaction between international students and U.S. students. She feels that:

Attracting international students to our campuses will serve the prupose of advancing understanding between people and will help to favorably change the image of our country. The vast amount of knowledge and experience that international students bring with them is a resource that our universities need to learn how to utilize more effectively.

She hopes to learn how to develop an effective and efficent adminstrative structure for coordinating programs for international students when she returns.

Yuri Yerastov - I come from the Siberian city of Novokuznetski, Russia. Before coming to CIE I taught English as a foreign language, first at a local high school, and then at the Siberian State University of Technology. In addition, I held a position as teacher of the course "English for Law" at the Novokunetsk Subsidiary of the European College.Yuri Yerastov

My educational background includes a cum laude Specialist's Diploma in English and German Linguistics and a teaching certificate from the Novokunetsk State Pedagogical Institute. I graduated valedictorian from Lake Region Union High School in Vermont, as well, which I attended as part of a U.S. government exchange program.

I am interested in developing higher education in Russia, particularly in the areas of academic planning and administration. I am also interested in helping to set up partnerships with universities in other countries and have already created one linkage with a British university. I find the potential of distance education intriguing and want to look further at various models of open universities like the one in Britain. In addition I want to study education law in the US to look at topics like affirmative action, admissions, and employment. I hope that my studies in the US will give me a better background to help my university broaden its range of contacts with Western universities.

Fulgence Swai - I was born and raised along the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, a country that includes the Zanzibar Islands and is bordered by the big lakes of Africa and has the largest concentration of wild animals in the world! I had early missionary education before going to public schools. My first degree had the subjects: Mathematics, Physics, Economics and Education but I spent all my time studying Math! My Master's degree was in Educational Management and Planning. The Ministry and Institute of Education was able to exploit my potential in co-editing the primary mathematics textbooks for primary 1-4 and for primary 6-7. I was also involved in co-editing the mathematics books for secondary 1-4 which are all still in use.

With the natural interest to work with teachers, I became the Secretary General of the Professional Teachers' Organization. Recently I have been elected the Honorary Trustee of the Tanzania Teachers Union as one of the founders and also elected by twelve different teachers organizations that make the Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) as their Honorary Secretary/Treasurer for the Southern Africa Teachers Organization (SATO).

I have worked in the Ministry of Education Headquarters as a Senior Management Officer in a program for the improvement of quality education in primary schools. Several interventions were tested and the correct one is still to be found. Can CIE facilitate the process to discover the formula for the improvement of quality of education for the primary schooling in the public schools in Tanzania? With the solution not yet in sight, I decided to go and work in CARE International Tanzania on a similar project. A lot of work was done in working through partnership with NGOs and the solution is still not in sight.

I end up by repeating the words of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere that, "We must run as others in the developed world are walking so that we may catch up with them." How fast can we do so and in what direction? Mwalimu and Freire had a dream. Now that they are somewhere else, what can we do to continue with the burning spirit, which they had? Can teachers of today who are working under difficult conditions in Tanzania or others in any other third world kindle the hope of better life? What capacity building is needed to reach this mammoth goal? All these questions and others to be framed during my stay at CIE will climax in learning the larger picture of international education and go back home and push further the wheel of development.