The following blog post was written by Jenna Cottrill, our Communications Coordinator, on a visit to our partner schools in Haiti.

When I was in Haiti last November on a personal trip, I took one day to visit the schools associated with EduDeo’s partner, CRECH. I was excited to see the different Christ-centred schools that are benefiting from the Walking Together training that Learning Leaders Robert Koole & Fran Joose hosted last year.

I visited 4 schools, the first of which was Foyer Chretien. While there, I visited different classrooms and was pleased to see students eager to learn and teachers presenting engaging lessons. We popped into several classrooms, making our way up the third story building.

The last classroom we observed was the one that has stuck out in my mind.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Ethiopian Coffee = Hospitality = A New Understanding of Christ Centred Learning 0 comments

This blog was written by Learning Leader Elco Vandergrift who is working alongside co-leader Rudy deGroot with Ethiopian educators as part of the Living and Leading the Biblical Story in Christian Schools Walking Together project.

Greetings from Ethiopia.  Rudy, Mituku, and I are sitting at a roadside cafe,  enjoying our last cup of Ethiopian coffee. Without a doubt, this is the best coffee in the world.  The richness of the coffee is only surpassed by  the richness of new relationships with our co-learners in Christian Education.

Last night we were told that one of the workshop participants was thinking about this idea of " seeing the Biblical story - living the Biblical story" for 3 nights in a row... Three nights in row!!!

Rudy and I can't remember the last time we had 3 sleepless nights thinking about the vision for Christian schooling? We're not sure what she was thinking. Was it the call to live the story...not just see it? And that  he now can now invite her students into this way of living - into a better story?  

This is just one story that surfaced in the midst of questions and experiences where "living the Biblical story" in the Ethiopian education context were explored. 


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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Abenezer Receiving Us Graciously 0 comments

This blog was written by Learning Leader Elco Vandergrift who is working alongside co-leader Rudy deGroot with Ethiopian educators as part of the Living and Leading the Biblical Story in Christian Schools Walking Together project.

Today Rudy deGroot and I were graciously received by our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. We visited 2 schools in the city of Addis Abbaba: Bole Kalehwot Church School (900 + students) and Deborah School (1500 + students). 

While there would be many items to highlight, one of the things that stands out is the hospitality that was extended to us as visitors. Students from both schools were eager to share with us and open up their rooms to let us in to a small part of their lives. What stands out though is a little grade one student from Bole Kalehwot Church School. Upon my departure he was quite eager to give me a picture he had quickly sketched. It's not clear to me what the picture is, though I do think it's a portrait of me in the midst of himself and his classmates...I think.

In the end, though, it does not really matter. A display of gracious hospitality offered to us from a young Ethiopian...Hard not to be impacted by that. Tomorrow more school visits. 

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Weaving Community Through Stories 0 comments

I love a good story. Stories that build an empathetic heart in its recipients are the ones most essential in building community. This week, I have been reminded of the need to learn the narrative of those we lead, collaborative with and befriend. We connect through stories and they help us makes sense of our lives and other people's lives. Stories help us to make meaning and realize that we are all part of one universal story. Listening to each other's stories cultivates trust and strengthens community.

Some of my favourite books are autobiographies; Helen Keller, Maya Angelou, Malala Yousafzai, to name a few, are people that have inspired me to have a growth mindset. These incredible narratives remind us that resilience, perseverance and plain old grit are what is needed to overcome the obstacles, learn from failure and transform into the image bearers that God created us to be.

One of the obstacles that gets in the way of building this growth mindset is a self narrative of shame. The same can be said for building rapport with fellow educators. Any preconceived notions we may project onto others will hinder building good relationships. Sometimes there are stories about the developing world that are not entirely true. It is these stories that challenge the potential in building strong working relationships.

Curt Thompson in his book, the Soul of Shame, says we are all storytellers.

“We yearn to tell and hear stories of goodness and beauty, and this is the echo of God’s intention. We long for our stories to be about joy, not just reflections of what we believe but of who we are, who we long to be…..But shame wants very much to infect every element of the mind in order to distort God’s story and offer another narrative.” (55)

Earlier this week after we had participated in a self reflection activity that was meant to help determine our leadership styles, Diane and I were discussing whether we considered ourselves introverts or extroverts. I identify as an extrovert and I believe this stems from my love of spending time with people. Hearing the stories of others energizes me and helps me make the connections needed to learn together and break down the walls that often stem from misunderstandings. Often these misunderstandings begin when we create our own story about someone else rather than take the time to really listen to their narrative.

We are all part of God’s narrative and our stories are links in the chain. This week, I listened to many stories from fellow educators and I shared some of my story as well. What did I learn? We have much in common with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Dominican Republic. We all have something to bring to the table. We can learn from each other and we all share in The Story. I was incredibly blessed to hear the stories of the leaders from the COCREF schools; their commitment to Christian Education and their love for the children and families they serve.

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