International, Israeli students train to help the world’s marginalized populations in 'Glocal' Community-Development Studies Program


April 14, 2013: Students in the two-year Glocal Community-Development Studies master’s degree program last week (April 11) joined program alumni to showcase their semester-long internships abroad, talk about their experiences and examine the cross-cutting challenges they view as facing diverse communities worldwide.

The event, entitled "In our Eyes: Visualizing Community Development," consisted of an exhibit of pictures taken by the students during their internships, academic posters and a mini-conference on themes related to community-development. Parallel panel talks were held on “Between environmental conservation and economic development," "Human rights and migration: A question of access," and "Challenges confronting women's empowerment and health: A multi-country perspective." The event was a joint event of the Glocal program and the University’s Dean of Students Office.

According to Aya Navon, Glocal's internship coordinator and one of the program’s lecturers, "The pictures in the exhibition represented the students' own definition of community development and the way they understand the concept after two years of study. The exhibition focused on four principles of community development — dignity, learning, sharing and voice — that were chosen by the students as central. Through these images the students tried to bring the unique voices of the communities they met to the campus, capturing different facets of the power, ability and beauty that exist in communities in the face of poverty, war and disaster.”

Prof. Steven Kaplan, academic head of the Glocal program which is a project of the Faculty of Social Sciences, said, "This is a truly international program, in terms of its academic vision, the diversity of its students and practical experience it provides. Now more than ever, universities play an important role in the public arena, and the leading ones have been reaching out to the world not only to teach but also to learn and build true partnerships. We are proud to be part of the growing trend of "tikkun olam" (repairing the world) in the 21st Century."

"The University supported the photo exhibition and provided a platform to expose the creativity of students and professors," said Hebrew University curator Michal Mor. "In this exhibition, we were able to visually express the essence of the students' work in different countries throughout the Third World. The academic content was also presented in this exhibition by providing special attention to each country and its specific problems."

Among the presenters in the conference was Anne-Sophie Cardinal and Adar Zahavi. Cardinal, a student from Canada, established a volunteer organization called “Become” before beginning her studies at Glocal. "One of the main projects of the organization is a scholarship fund for youth in disadvantaged areas in Kenya and Haiti, where only 22 percent of children reach high school," said Cardinal, who sought to study in a program that would provide academic background to the field she was already involved in.

"I wanted to engage in an internship on the topic of children and orphans in the international organization CARE, but it didn't work out. Instead during my internship in Benin I assisted in providing relief efforts to the population affected by the many floods from the area's river. Approximately 30,000 people have been displaced from their homes. At the conference I spoke about displacement but also steadfastness, recovery and resilience. These words are all appropriate to the people with whom I worked. "

Adar Zahavi volunteered in Uganda several years ago and realized it was what she wanted to do in life. "I wanted to learn how to do it professionally, to deal with the many ethical dilemmas related to the field, and especially to acquire tools and more knowledge on the subject."

Zahavi discussed the migration of young people as a sign of economic distress. "As part of the internship I built programs to promote the youth of a tribe from north-east India. Many of them drop out of school and migrate to the big cities to try to earn a living. They encounter cultural barriers and a considerable number of them return to their village disappointed. The field of migration and its relation to community development is more relevant today than ever before, and I intend to continue in it upon concluding my studies. "

Glocal student Itay Ziv traveled to Uganda to volunteer after obtaining his bachelor's degree. Following his stay there he realized that he wanted to engage in community development in Africa in a more formal capacity. "I'm a teacher by profession and that's what I did in Uganda, but I realized that education alone is not enough and I wanted to learn more. The community development program at Glocal focuses on the Third World but it is very broad: we learned sociology, medicine, gender, economics, demography, all with an emphasis on helping."

For his internship Ziv worked in the Kenyan Cooperative Alliance, helping cooperatives build business plans and acquire skills: "In Israel I also succeeded in highlighting the issue's importance of community development: the civics curriculum for junior high teachers has no option for teaching about globalization, and I found that lacking.

“My students expressed a lot of interest in the subject when I discussed it in class; they were exposed to content that they had not seen elsewhere, and that expanded their knowledge. Therefore, I initiated a project to create an additional in-depth study unit on globalization, which is now awaiting approval from the Ministry of Education."