IIE Network - Fall 2013 - (Page 34)

GRASSROOTS DEVELOPMENT The Global Youth Engagement Platform: A Peace Corps for the 21st Century By Takoi K. Hamrita THIS ARTICLE PROPOSES the launching of a new global youth engagement platform for sustainable, worldwide grassroots development. Such a platform would have chapters rooted in universities all around the U.S. and the developing world. It would tap the potential of youth to identify, articulate, and meet their own development needs. Background Engagement with developing nations has always been led by organizations, universities and people from outside nations. A growing number of observers and scholars argue that these efforts have fostered dependency without implementing change. In most cases the projects are not initiated and led by the local people and therefore may not have the necessary local buy in to propel them forward and keep them going past the initial funding. Additionally, projects coming from the outside may not reflect and respond to local priorities and needs, and don’t succeed in tapping the local indigenous expertise. The deeply rooted asymmetry in this development process dictates a certain dynamic in the relationship of a giver and a taker, and regardless of the rhetoric of empowerment often used to camouflage this dynamic, the end result is one that perpetuates it. To be effective in our engagement efforts with developing nations and to ensure local leadership, ownership and sustainability, we must re-examine our role in development and embrace new frameworks that enable and support developing countries to identify, articulate and meet their own development needs. Capitalizing on our Unique Model To support youth around the developing world, we should look no further than to our own higher education institutions in the U.S. One of the key factors in the success of the U.S. higher education model is the existent institutional mechanisms for professors and students to engage and contribute to social 34 This platform would be designed to catalyze and engage the participation of creative individuals wherever they are. and economic development in very tangible and direct ways. This is missing in higher education systems of developing nations, which are often crippled by centralized processes, complete financial dependence on the government, and passive curricula that are disconnected from present day needs. Beyond the classroom, professors and students often have little impact, and the university is an isolated entity locked in an ivory tower and limited by ineffective rules and processes. A key to unlocking the potential of youth in developing nations is breaking this lock and creating opportunities for professors and students to forge relationships with their local communities and social and economic development organizations to identify, articulate and address pressing needs. This would then turn a passive and disconnected education into a powerful development tool. As a country with a rich history of land-grant university-community engagement, we are in a unique position to catalyze, facilitate and sustain the emergence of this type of grassroots engagement in developing nations. To do so, we must give professors and students a liberating external platform that bypasses the malfunctioning bureaucratic structures they are held hostage to, and allow them to lead a transformation. Global Youth Engagement Platform The U.S. and the developing world would greatly benefit from an inclusive, non-hierarchical, open, distributed, and democratic global youth engagement platform (GYEP) that allows any university anywhere in the world to plug into for grassroots development. This platform would be designed to catalyze and engage the participation of creative individuals wherever they are and would enable the following: • Interested universities in developing nations could create and govern local chapters, mobilize faculty and students, foster community connections, and organize and synergize creatively around issues and across diverse constituencies to address local development needs. • Participating universities in developing nations would have established pathways to link with relevant expertise available at U.S. higher education institutions through local chapters rooted in campuses all across the U.S. • Professors, administrators and students on U.S. campuses would have new pathways to share their own local engagement expertise with counterparts in developing nations while allowing organic indigenous processes to unfold: Expertise in meeting similar or related development needs, and in forging effective university-community partnerships, engaging students through academic work, fundraising, mobilizing and sustaining participation, selfassessment and outcome measurement, defining roles of faculty, students, and the community partner, rewards and incentives, and leadership among other things. Such invaluable community engagement experience has often gone untapped for international development. • U.S. students, in particular, would be introduced to high-priority development needs and interests of other nations. Students spend millions annually to study abroad, but mere exposure to different cultures does not produce global competency. GYEP would create a world of opportunities for engagement around locally-owned and conceptualized development projects, and to build deeper and broader relationships based on equality, shared passion and Continued on page 39 www.iie.org/iienetworker http://www.iie.org/iienetworker

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Network - Fall 2013

A Message from Allan E. Goodman
Megatrends: Predicting the Future of International Education
Considering Study Abroad’s Past to Prepare for its Future
The Promise of International Education: Building a More Just and Elevated Civil Society
Global Research and Commercialization: An Under-the-Radar Next Big Thing
Clustering Innovation and Industry: New Opportunities for Europe
Connecting the Dots: Integrating Engagement with International Stakeholders
The Rise of Real-time, Online International Recruitment
Hold on to Your Hats, MOOCs... Here Come the TOQUES!
The Global Youth Engagement Platform: A Peace Corps for the 21st Century
Growing Globally Competent Students to Achieve True Internationalization
Beyond Ourselves: Embracing Our Global Responsibilities
India: Expansion, Equity, Excellence
The Growing World of Collaborative Internationalization: Taking Partnerships to the Next Level
From Multi-national Universities to Education Hubs to Edu-glomerates?
Advertisers Index
Beyond the Numbers: The Who, How and What of Global Student Mobility

IIE Network - Fall 2013