Today is the First Anniversary of our Citizen Diplomacy Initiative!

One year ago today, we held our Citizen Diplomacy Initiative’s very first live, international, family-to-family dialogue.  As we recounted back then in a blog post about the dialogue:

DC-Dakar first dialogue“The dialogue connected members of two American families in D.C. — a grandmother and her grandson, and a father and his two daughters — with a nine-member family in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, located on the coast at the western-most tip of Africa. After introducing themselves, the families freely asked each other questions about their use of media (Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat, etc.), their food, music, modes of transportation, and cost of living, among other subjects.  As the American families learned, residents of Dakar are not that different from residents of Washington D.C. as fellow major city dwellers connected to common media, music, food and other goods.”

Family in Dakar, SenegalFast-forward exactly one year and we have:

  1. Carried out twenty-two live international dialogues between families in (a) Washington DC, (b) Porto de la Libertad, El Salvador, (c) Dakar, Senegal, and (d) Jerash, Jordan.
  2. Conducted more than thirty youth and family learning activities in Washington DC, including international potlucks, documentary discussions, game-based fundays, and field trips to embassies, museums, and other locations with a focus on local and international learning.
  3. Nearly completed our first cross-national, family-to-family, collaborative project.

Our collaborative photovoice project engaged eight lower-income families in Washington DC, Dakar, Senegal, and Jerash, Meal at Senegalese restaurantJordan in taking photos in answer to the question “what is the nature of your community?”  The album that we are now putting together selects 75 of the nearly 500 photos our families took from their different vantage points in three communities on three continents.  The photo album — organized into street scenes, food culture, social challenges, bright spots, and visions of the future — will be finalized along with a project report in September and released for public presentation online as well as in Washington DC and abroad in September and beyond.

Later this year, we will begin our second international project, and double the number of participating families in DC and abroad to about 16.  This second project will engage our families in practicing how to ask questions and interview people locally and internationally to learn.  Being able to ask questions might seem elemental, but asking thoughtful questions is not easy, takes some degree of self-confidence, and is absolutely essential to learning.  All of our projects are intended to develop what we call “civic skills,” or one’s ability to act effectively at local to global levels to solve collective problems.

CDI photo projectLastly, I need to note: we run a money-efficient, volunteer-rich operation, but it still takes money to pay for food, communication technology, and transportation for our lower-income families that don’t have cars.  Your donations are really vital to our ability to pay for these costs.  Please give $25, $50, or $100 here now to help sustain our work.

Thank you for your support!  Stay tuned for more….

Paul Lachelier, Ph.D.
Founder & Director, Learning Life