|| JC:HEM Kakuma – Information Technology
|JC:HEM Learning Lab in Kakuma
|I have met the most wonderful people, made long life friends, used technology I had only read about. Every day is ripe with new opportunities.
with JC:HEM has been an incredible journey of learning. I have met the most
wonderful people, made long life friends, used technology I
had only read about. Every day is ripe with new opportunities. For example, today I had the opportunity to set
up two access points in one network and
also set up a remote helpdesk software where instead of physically having to be
at each terminal to sort out small issues, it will be possible to sort it out
remotely. It was a challenge getting a tool compatible with multi- point
servers. Another learning opportunity.
It was a shock, when I first came here,
having come from Nairobi. The differences in our lives, the things we take for
granted e.g. electricity, are almost a
luxury here. The harsh climatic conditions, so different from where I came
from. I could not believe I was in the same country.
When Fr. Luis took brought me to Arrupe
Center, I saw the faces of people, eager to learn, to escape even for a moment,
from the reality that is their life. People here want, need more. I taught my
first CBD CSLT last year and the class graduated in December, and all the students wanted an advanced course in
community development. Some wanted to go on and do Psycho social case
management. The belief that education is the key to a better future here is
almost tangible. The need for more is incredible.
On technology, internet is the lifeline of our
jobs. Currently we have good bandwidth, fairly decent service, the students get their
work done. I am lucky to have competent colleagues. I feel that, JC:HEM should
continue its program here. There is a need for it, and maybe even offer more
courses, I know the people here will appreciate. I also feel that, people here
need a way to escape, and coming to Arrupe, getting lost on the world of
information through the internet, making friends and building online
communities is one way they do that. Muthoni Njuguna, JC:HEM's IT Officer at its Learning Site in Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya, reflects on his experience to date and how the program has changed his perspectives.
Community Service Learning Track Graduation
|Two former facilitators and two new - and another sucessful CSLT (Community Development and Organization)Student.
|You have learned these skills so that you can go out into your communities and work to make them better. Do not neglect this opportunity, use the knowledge you have gained.
Every six months in Kakuma we get to celebrate graduation ceremonies for the Community Service Learning Tracks (CSLTs). The students get to bring family members or friends and speeches are given, certificates handed out, and cake and soda enjoyed. On December 11th, 2012 a graduation ceremony was held for three CSLTs: Psychosocial Case Management and two sections of Community and Business Development, one of which was women only. Speeches of congratulations were given by the JRS Project Director and both of the Track Facilitators. Students from all of the classes also got to speak, thanking their teachers, each other, and JRS and JC:HEM for giving them the opportunity to continue their education. CSLT Graduation ceremonies in Kakuma give students and staff a moment to reflect on events past and consider the future.
As with all of the courses we offer, in the graduation the students were again encouraged to use their new skills to help their communities. Hezekiah Ronald, the JRS PD said, “you have learned these skills so that you can go out into your communities and work to make them better. Do not neglect this opportunity, use the knowledge you have gained.”
As always, the students’ coming to accept their certificates for the course is a very exciting few moments. After all forty students who completed the three courses had shaken hands with the facilitators and received their certificates there was an opportunity to enjoy cake and soda. After the graduation there is always a lot of time spent taking pictures and talking about what people plan to do next. Overall it was again a very successful and exciting celebration.
As both of the individuals who had been facilitating these two courses will no longer be doing that as of January 2013 we got to hire two staff living in the camp to take over the facilitation of the courses. Both of these individuals had previously taken the course they will now be teaching and are very excited to continue on with these new work experiences.
How Logic and Critical Thinking Changed the Way I Think
|After I complete my studies, I plan to expand my community based organization (CBO) to become a non-governmental organization (NGO) that will serve the poor and the disadvantaged, as well as promote justice and solidarity in the sub-Sahara African society.
Why Learning ‘Logic’ Is Important
Communication plays an important part in our daily living. This is especially because, as human beings, we are meant to be with others. Part of our life requires that we create relationships with others – in the family, at school, at work places, and in the community. Communication involves many things – verbal and nonverbal messages, meta-messages, and evaluation of such messages. It is human nature to use defensive communication to make claims about personalities, deeds, needs, and behaviors. Many of us always want to look smart before others. We often prefer that our ideas and opinions be the best of all. In this way, we use argumentative language to convince others to accept what we think. While we create our own claims, we also often make ourselves ready to attack or evaluate the arguments that others make - unconsciously. The most interesting thing is that, most of us commit a lot of mistakes in our thinking, constructing claims and evaluating the claims. We need to learn. And here comes the need for Logic and Critical course. I would wish to share the lessons that I learned from PHIL1000 – Logic and Critical Thinking, a course provided under the Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC: HEM) program. In this essay I start with a short story of my life in relation the learning under JC: HEM project. Then, I highlight some skills I derived from the Logic course, and how the course changed my thinking. Finally, I discuss the effects that I have seen after the 8 weeks of the course.
My name is Muzabel Welongo. I come from South-Kivu, in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. My province is one of the most affected by civilian troubles, wars, ethnic fighting and is the entry point for most external aggression in Congo. Since 2010, I run a Community Based Organization with some friends. We spend hours offering care and support to HIV positive people and orphan children, and running human rights trainings to refugees. We also run functional literacy classes, communicative English lessons, and vocational trainings (dressmaking, hairdressing, and weaving) for women and senior children in the camp. I joined the Diploma Course in Liberal Studies catered by the Regis University, under the Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC: HEM). This opportunity has changed my life. If I mentioned everything I have learned since I started this course on September 2011, this essay would take more than 30 pages. In short, I am becoming a good communicator. My leadership skills and servant-ship desire are improving from day to day. The more I continue with this course, the more I discover who I am, what my weaknesses and values are, and what my place my place in the community is. “Ubuntu” has come to be one of my esteemed ideals in life. “Ubuntu is the spirit in African culture to express compassion, reciprocity, dignity, harmony and humanity in the interest of building and maintaining community. … Ubuntu addresses our interconnectedness, our common humanity, and the responsibility to one another that flows from that connection (Nussbaum, 2009). Ubuntu makes me who I am today – an optimistic and compassionate servant, a man for the service of others.
After I complete my studies, I plan to expand my community based organization (CBO) to become a non-governmental organization (NGO) that will serve the poor and the disadvantaged, as well as promote justice and solidarity in the sub-Sahara African society. I also like become a writer, whose writings are based on life experiences and can effect positive change.
Logic and Critical Thinking’ Changed My Thinking
Learning about logical reasoning and critical thinking is an important tool that helps us effectively construct our own claims and support them with appropriate evidence. From October 6 to December 15, 2012, students in the Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC: HEM), for the cohort that started in 2011, undertook a precious module on Logic and Critical Thinking. The course was held at the Gonzaga online Blackboard, and has been helpful to the student. Logic has given us (students) the capacity to evaluate the arguments that others make to us, but also to build our own arguments, while using effective evidence to support our claims. I remember many times were I made arguments based on relatively weak reasoning. I was good at giving conclusions, but very poor at supporting my conclusions with appropriate evidence.
In middle 2012, one member of our CBO (whom I name Mr. John) argued that we should stop all our activities and focus on external fundraising for some months. He claimed that we had volunteered for more than two years without any external support, so we had to stop. More than half of members in that meeting supported his ideas. I was confused, because I could not accept. I decided to go on the defensive. I started by attacking John’s personal life, instead of referring to his ideas. I claimed that John gave the opinion because he had little education, and knew very little about organization work and voluntarism. I also maintained that since John had been a businessman for long, he would always seek financial benefits in whatever he did. And I brought my conclusion up – that the idea could never be accepted, based on the evidence I assumed was enough.
I think that was a weak reasoning I committed in the example above. I was lucky because no one discovered the fallacy. Even myself, I learned that I made a fallacy only in the seventh week of my Logic course. From there and now, I have been as careful as I can to make my arguments based on appropriate reasoning. I learned later that I had an alternative claim to present against John’s ideas, but I unknowingly chose to attack his personhood instead. The Logic course has changed my reasoning, as it had changed many of my fellow colleagues.
This course helped me construct and evaluate arguments and distinguish different types of arguments. I learned about the analogical reasoning used in law, moral reasoning, differentiating vagueness and ambiguity, recognizing fallacious arguments, using categorical propositions, and many more lessons.
After the Course – Results Seen
I have seen my way of communicating and making defensive dialogue change in the recent days. When I make arguments of my own, I try my best to seek for enough evidence. My intention is to make my communication as clear as possible. I do not intend to be a communication expert at this time. I try to understand how people form their arguments and help them when I can, to have strong support for their claims. It has been a pleasure to me that I am able to notice whenever I commit a fallacy. I did not memorize the names of fallacies, but I understand when I have committed a fallacy and try to correct where appropriate.
May Peace be With You!
I would wish to express my many thanks to the Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC: HEM) and Regis University, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), and all the other universities and funders that have made this online course available to us. Your efforts and funds are changing our minds. I do hope this change will impact the refugee societies in Kakuma, Dzaleka and Amman. And, this change will impact Africa – and the whole world. May peace be with you all!
Let the spirit of Ubuntu! Be with you all. “I am who I am because of who you are to me!’.
By Muzabel Welongo
January 19, 2013
13 January 2013. Muzabel Welongo, a JC:HEM student, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now living and working as a refugee in the Kakuma camp in Kenya, reflects on the impact that the recently introduced Logic and Critical Thinking course has made.
JC:HEM in Amman Explores the Ancient and Natural Wonders of Jordan
|JC:HEM in Amman Explores the Ancient and Natural Wonders of Jordan
In mid-December, JC-HEM students
in Amman, Jordan, celebrated the end of their first course together with an
outing to the Dibeen Forests Reserve and then to Jerash. The students, who come
from Somalia, Palestine, Iraq and Syria, had a wonderful
time. We first went to the Dibeen Forest Reserve, which has a picturesque landscape
with long and thin trees. According to the Jordan Royal Society for the
Conservation of Nature, this forest reserve is one of the best remaining
examples of original pine-oak forest cover in the region and it also supports
at least 17 threatened species. We were able to enjoy the beautiful views and
fragrant and clean air of the forest with a short hike and a small picnic under
the sun, which enhanced the colors of new growing grass. The Dibeen Forest
Reserve is a stark contrast from the urban bustle of the Amman, approximately
After finishing our food in the
Dibeen Forest Reserve, we continued to Jerash to see ancient Roman ruins. Jerash is about 48 kilometers to
the north of Jordan’s capital, Amman, and is located in the Jerash Governorate.
Jerash is the second-most popular tourist destination after Petra. While in
Jerash, we enjoyed exploring the giant buildings and ancient Roman
amphitheaters. We also walked in the squares and streets lined with the majestic
columns and large-scale walls. We also saw a model of a giant water mill that
moved water through this ancient town.
a rich history as it experienced a number of rulers, including the Ancient Greeks
and Romans. Jerash thrived under the rule of the Romans, who introduced
Christianity to the city in the year of 350 AD and built churches and
monasteries. However, Persian armies destroyed many of these churches and
monasteries in AD 614. Jerash has also withstood a number of earthquakes over
the years, including a large earthquake in AD 749. The ruins of
Jerash remained buried in the dirt for hundreds of years only to be rediscovered
by a German traveler Ulrich Jasper in 1806. Jasper initiated the excavation of
Jerash, but the restoration and preservation has been ongoing. The site is now
one of the best preserved Roman cities allowing visitors to imagine the city’s
past with residents walking the colonnaded streets, attending theaters
performances, gathering in the squares and plazas, and praying at the hilltop
Today, Jerash is
home to a festival held in July of each year, which transforms the ancient ruins
into a vibrant cultural venue. The festival features
folklore dances performed by local and international groups, ballet, musical
evenings, poetry, plays, operas and musical evenings for popular singers.
Visitors can also find shops filled with traditional handicrafts. People come
from all over the world, to enjoy in this festival and discover these amazing
This trip was
a special event for me in 2012. I have been living in Jordan for one and a half
years but have not had the opportunity to discover any of the ancient places. I
consider myself very fortunate to visit Jerash with some of my best friends in
Amman. After visiting Jerash, I was inspired to learn more about its history
and the history of Jordan. JC-HEM has helped me do this. Since I joined JC-HEM,
I have improved my writing, reading, and analysis skills. Many people in this world do not
have opportunities to receive a higher education and to dream about their
future. Being in JC-HEM, I continue to dream about being a doctor, engineer or
teacher. I have learned how to manage my time and how to achieve my goals.
JC-HEM not only allows me to improve myself but also give back to my family and
my community. I am learning new things every day in JC-HEM and I know that I will
continue to grow. This program provides me with
great means to learn new ideas and skills, and the positive encouragement I
receive from my teachers encourages me to push myself and to do my best. I look
forward to more, wonderful experiences with my JC-HEM classmates and teachers.
Fowza Abdullahi Abukar student in
In mid-December, JC-HEM students in Amman, Jordan, celebrated the end of their first course together with an outing to the Dibeen Forests Reserve and then to Jerash.
JC:HEM Students Represent Refugees at Human Rights Day event Parliament Discussion
|I felt very good because I could never thought that one day I could be in a such place. As a refugee I understand that education is a key and the most important thing in life
8th December 2012, Dzaleka Malawi, Two JC:HEM students from Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Muriel Ilunga and Gilbert Karindi, participated in a panel discussion for Human Rights Day. The event took place in the new Malawian Parliament building in the capital city, Lilongwe.
Human Rights Day, observed on 10 December every year, commemorates the signing of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on that day in 1948. This year’s theme was inclusion and the right to participate in public life -“My Right, My Voice, my Vote”..
Muriel and Gilbert were active in the discussion and asked questions about refugees who have skills and potential to contribute to life in Malawi, but have no access to services and benefits, or opportunities to participate at a national level. What consideration can be given to allow greater integration? The chair of the Malawian Electoral Commission responded that in the past, refugees have been marginalized, and they will be working to ensure their rights are respected, including looking at allowing long-term refugees the right to participate in the next elections.
“I realized that the education that I receive at JC:HEM is very important because it is giving me the chance to attend the Malawian parliament to represent and defend refugees living in Malawi. Without education I could not be able to speak in a such discussion,” said Muriel. She continued saying that “I realized that if someone is educated nowhere is inaccessible, and education can bring changes.”
The panel comprised the Malawian Human Rights Commission (MHRC), the Malawian National Assembly, the Malawian Electoral Commission (MEC) the United Nations system in Malawi and representatives from different organizations. The JC:HEM students enjoyed the experience, saying they were respected, their voices had weight and everyone was friendly with them throughout.
Gilbert Karindi said “I felt very good because I could never thought that one day I could be in a such place. As a refugee I understand that education is a key and the most important thing in life.” 8th December 2012, Dzaleka Malawi, Two JC:HEM students from Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Muriel Ilunga and Gilbert Karindi, participated in a panel discussion for Human Rights Day. The event took place in the new Malawian Parliament building in the capital city, Lilongwe.
Upcoming Courses: Volunteer Faculty Wanted
JC:HEM is constantly looking to recruit volunteer faculty to teach forthcoming courses in the Diploma in Liberal Studies. These include
Humanities (History of Africa)
Logic and Critical Thinking
Cultural Competence in Education
Teaching English as a Foreign Language
Introduction to Business
Further details about JC:HEM can be found at our website, or by contacting Neil Sparnon (email@example.com)
Director's Letter: 'From the Margins?'
|Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi
|At the margins… this where we begin
A friend recently asked, “What does it mean, “At the Margins”? This is an important question for JC:HEM strategic initiatives. When JC:HEM discusses with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), UNHCR, and Universities the need for higher education among refugees in protracted situations and for internally displaced people, the concept of the margins is a driving force. When discerning ‘what does at the margins mean’, responses have included “ It ‘s being at the brink of making it or not making it”, “ It means living in a place of isolation where it is easy for the world to forget us”, and, holding up a piece of lined yellow paper and pointing at the red margin running down the side, a woman, a refugee studying with JC:HEM said “According to me, ‘at the margins’ means this is where we begin. “
In addition to these astute definitions, JC:HEM determines locations at the margins along with data. Data confirms, and our hearts understand that poverty and low education are linked to conflict. Those who live at the margins served by JC:HEM and JRS have little or no access to higher education making them more vulnerable to the vicious cycle of low education – poverty-conflict.
In 2010 through funding from a generous donor and with the help of refugees, JC:HEM built Arrupe learning centers in Kakuma Camp in Kenya, in Dzaleka Camp in Malawi, and in Aleppo, Syria a center served by JRS was renovated for JC:HEM students to attend college. In 2012 the center in Syria was taken over during the war and was later bombed. JC:HEM looks forward with JRS to re-open those doors and in the meantime the program has moved to Amman, Jordan. Students in these locations have access to the Diploma in Liberal Studies, offered on-line, and to Community Service Learning Tracks (CSLTs) certificate programs offered on-site. The Diploma program will celebrate the graduation of the first students in September of 2013.
Strategic initiatives in 2013 will balance resources with new needs to bring Community Service Learning Tracks (CSLTs) to people living at the margins in South and Southeast Asia. Thanks to a new partnership with St. Xavier’s College in Calcutta, orientation to teaching excellence on-line and Ignatian pedagogy from JesuitNet, and US and International university interest, faculty and curricular resources continue to expand to help meet the need.
Transform Thinking, Transform the World. Please visit Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) at www.jc-hem.org to meet students, faculty, Universities, and to consider how you can be involved. At the margins… this where we begin.
Here’s to you, and to all the hope and potential before us in 2013. Thank you for your interest in JC:HEM.
A friend recently asked, “What does it mean, “At the Margins”?