I’ve been thinking about how useful it is to have so many different majors present in this literacy class and 360 - In a discussion on Tuesday in Psych, many of us were really confused about how to proceed with the unfamiliar psychology terms. But Manya was able to give us a really good explanation - we kind of drilled her for information! Also, Lucy and I were talking about her background in Anthropology this morning - this will be useful in our explorations of culture.
We are a community of many different skill sets - and we can benefit from all of those disciplines when we are open to learning about and from each other. It’s really difficult to ask for help - especially when (often) our previous education calls for independence and individuality. However, knowing your resources and using them effectively - that does not imply dependence, but a kind of fusion or interdependence.
I was recently asked to post about assessing the impact of NGOs in Ghana. Here are some resources that I found:
Be sure to check out the Institutes, Think Tanks and Reports section of your course guide. It lists several websites that will have reports from major non-profits in West Africa.
In addition to the general social science article resources (e.g. JSTOR, ProQuest, Google Scholar, etc.) two databases that will have international NGO reports would be:
Search these databases for keywords like (NGO or non-governmental organization or intergovernmental organization) and (accountab* or monitor* or evaluat*). Here are links to two productive searches I ran in Google Scholar's Advanced Search screen:
In case anyone missed what my face looks like when we discuss Twitter in class just picture a child in a sauna who keeps going outside to get ice cream, bringing it in, and watching sadly as it melts for the seventh time in a row. I go through these phases with Twitter, I think I vaguely get it, I get a little excited because I (kind of) know what's happening, and then I log on and see a massive jumble of tiny snippets of conversations I can never catch up on with a thousand links that send me all over the place and I'm back at square one. I think part of the reason I am so bad with Twitter is that I don't like it. That is my main point and already I would have used about three or more Twitter posts to say it, unless I simply wrote "I dislike Twitter and suspect it is mutual". I grew up in a house with more books than furniture, I've always read the book before the movie, and I still prefer to thumb through giant reference books for information. I am not built to sum things up succintly (as you have probably guessed by now).
This image is from an episode of West Wing, where people bring in a map of the world that is upside-down and explain why it changes everything. The initial reaction, of course, is to laugh because it's such an odd idea and seems so trivial. However, once I began actually looking into this after our class discussion of "world travel" and perceptions, I realized there is actually something to it. For one thing, the continents are re-sized more acurately, but also it does make you think about the relationship between North and South and Top and Bottom. Even if you don't realize it, I certaintly didn't, constantly seeing the US as near the top of the world, or at least above other countries on the map has an implication of power and importance. Imagine if we were no longer North America, but South? Besides the fact that it sounds weird, are there any other reasons we would object?
While listening to the TED talk I found myself both agreeing and disagreeing with this idea of a "single story". Initially I agreed because frequently there are single stories or party lines that get fed to us and when you actually research the topic you find out that there were a million other voices that got ignored in favor of one idea. However, it was that thought that made me question the conclusion even as I came to it. Is an idea a "single story" of sorts? When you hear an idea or story don't you automatically internalize it in one way or another and make it different? Even if it's just the difference between laughing at something or not, or agreeing with a statement or remaining silent--doesn't that change the way other people see it (or hear it, read it, etc.)?
Thinking back again to the chapter on Childhood and Postcolonization, I can’t help, but think how waste is also an example of how colonization still exists in our society. When the United Sates does not know what to do with all of their “stuff,” they just send it off to the Third World as a free gift. Not only is this unsustainable, but it is also perpetuating the power dynamic between the United States and other continents such as Asian and Africa. It is also ironic that the cycle is actually a cycle. Clothing, electronics, products are made by sweatshop workers or modern day slaves in factories in China or by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These products are then sent to the United States and Europe where marketers manipulate consumers into buying useless products that they will eventually dispose of in exchange for more useless goods. The products they are “useless” are then taken to thrift stores and second hand stores, which only end up selling one fifth of that back into the economy and society. Finally the cycle goes full circle as the United States then ships all of this clothing and electronics to the countries that made the products in the first place. At some point, even these countries do not even need the products since there are so many excess products.
In a class on gender and sexuality last semester, I focused my attention on transgender students at Bryn Mawr, and those that haven't been able to come to Bryn Mawr College because of their sex. Throughout the semester I met with administrators, deans, staff and students around campus trying to learn more about the school's policy on admitting transwomen as well as transmen. Following are the links to these works.
1) All "Women's" College
African Languages: An Introduction(a recent-ish reference book, with maps, to get you started - on the shelves in Canaday 1st Floor)
Ghanaian language listings with various additional info included:
CIA World FactBook - check out the Languages section on the Ghana country page... most interesting is to go to the Dynamic Statstics Tables (just click on the Languages link from the Ghana country page) and cross-compare Languages with other variables like Literacy, Ethnic Groups, Administrative Divisions, etc.
Ethnologue: Languages of Ghana - includes speaker population, region, alternate names, language family and dialects, plus link for more information
GhanaWeb: Ghanaian Languages - includes detailed info for government-sponsored and non-government-sponsored languages
One of the cool things about using Twitter in a class setting is that it allows you to continue the discussion outside the classroom. For people whose phones have Twitter apps or web access this is pretty easy but you may not have realized that you can also use a regular cell phone to submit and read tweets.
In a nutshell here's how you register your phone to your Twitter account and start tweeting via SMS:
It’s interesting to see the definition of literacy develop and how they vary, whether within my own definitions, external definitions, or dictionary definitions. The definition of literacy in its most basic and most well known meaning is: “the ability to read and write”. The definition on my computer goes on to note a second explanation: “competence or knowledge in a specified area”.
My own working definition that I wrote down in class on Tuesday was, “the way we interact with one another, how we communicate and understand each other”. In a way it seems that there are two distinctive forms of “literacy”, as the ability to read and write are very specific skills, but broadening the definition to include competence in any area makes the former definition seem redundant. Part of me continues to work out a definition for “literacy” that makes sense within our discourse. But maybe it is that the class will be incorporating literacy in all its forms.
The revised definition that came out of our small group discussion was: “a way to manipulate secondary discourses to give one agency”. In a way it reverberates my original, working definition but also expands on it. This definition also seems a bit removed from that which sees literacy as simply “the ability to read and write”, all of which serve to complicate and clarify my understanding of literacy as we discuss it in class.