March 4, 2013

Learning Tour

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

-Lilla Watson

In February, our MCC Nicaragua team welcomed a learning tour of eight individuals from Alberta, Canada.  They were here for ten days and their goals were to learn more about the Restorative Justice programs of MCC Nicaragua.  Kevin and I were a part of the planning committee, along with a couple of other co-workers. 

The group was refreshing to spend time with.  They were all forty and above and work in a variety of positions ranging from community and prison chaplains to Victim Offender dialogue mediators.  We spent several days with this group and really enjoyed our experience getting to know more about the work that they do as Restorative Justice practitioners for MCC in Canada.  They provided much wisdom and insight to our context here as many of them have also lived and traveled abroad.

I appreciate the way that MCC handles foreign groups.  Oftentimes we see foreign groups coming into Nicaragua, paying tens of thousands of dollars, all wearing the same bright colored t-shirt and not speaking Spanish (but hey we didn’t either when we arrived and we are still pretty bad).  They are often found in the tourist market buying absurd amounts of things at even more absurd prices.  While I do agree that the typical mission trip can have great value, especially for the foreigner, I often wonder how this can be done better.

MCC’s Learning Tours focus on solidarity and mutual transformation through connecting with and learning about another culture and community.  Much of our time was spent in dialogue and conversation with Nicaraguans, a mutual and even exchange of ideas.  Both sides learned, both sides were encouraged and both sides were willing to be changed.

“We gain richness from our differences.”

One day included a visit to Christian Medical Action, where Cassie spends a couple of her days working each week.

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Another day we visited with Maria Jesus, our previous host mother who is a lawyer and mediator.  This was a very exciting dialogue where individuals connected and shared some really neat ways that they could partner together in their work.

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We also learned more about the community resources here in Nicaragua and are excited for our future partnerships.  If you are interested in reading more about their learning tour and time here in Nicaragua, check out their blog here:

“We are not the key players, we are here to walk with the people.”

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