Dear Friends and Supporters,
Recent events have made us more deeply aware than ever of how much we rely on all of our donors, including those of you who donate regularly or monthly through GlobalGiving. In this report, we will explain what we mean by these words, but first I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, as the designer and director of our SENS programs, for what you have made possible at this difficult time: based on the support we have received, our SENS 2021 program is now officially scheduled to run from May 2 – July 22, 2021!
Facing the Challenges of Running Our Program During the Pandemic Era
We all know how much the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do things. For schools, universities, and training programs, much of the work and interaction has had to move online. Parts of the world have already contained the pandemic to a very high degree; others still struggle tremendously. Here in Thailand, we are closer to the side of containment and mitigating damage. Thailand currently ranks 116th in the world in terms of number of overall cases. Although Thailand had one of the first known cases outside of China, Thai health authorities managed to contain the pandemic very quickly and effectively through public health measures and restrictions on travel. Illegal border crossings created Thailand’s first surge much later, although that, too, has been largely contained through heightened control of the border, active contact tracing and testing, and now also vaccination programs in areas that were at the heart of that surge.
The School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) is a program that relies heavily on face-to-face interactions in the classroom, as well as on field excursions that allow students to meet prominent Thai leaders. Although we have successfully run programs online, the three-month SENS program would quite simply not be the same if it had to be entirely virtual. For this reason, we postponed our SENS 2021 program from January to May of this year. Now, through extensive research, communication with overseas embassies, inquiries into the costs and conditions of quarantine and requirements for visas, we know that we can run our program safely in Thailand. To make this possible, we have shifted more of our scholarship monies to supporting Thais, who can attend relatively trouble-free. At the same time, we have pledged higher levels of support to those who will be arriving from overseas.
This year, the students who make the decision to attend from overseas are truly committed: they must not only arrange for a visa to enter Thailand and a flight ticket, but also reserve a quarantine hotel in Thailand, purchase medical insurance to cover their time in Thailand, get a COVID test within 72 hours of their departure, and likely face quarantine upon their return home. To make all of this easier for them, our Logistics Coordinator, Topsi, works very closely with each student to ensure that they understand the next steps and have all the necessary information. Furthermore, we pledge to support them financially for all costs that they themselves cannot cover. Here is where your support has played such a vital role. When a student says they have $500 USD and no more, we are able to cover all other costs thanks to the generosity of our donors. Often, this is what ultimately allows them to join us.
Is it worth it?
Yes—we feel strongly that it is. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the underlying crises that the world is experiencing now, including the increasing inequities of the world economic system, struggles for democracy in many places, and deepening stress on the planetary systems that have allowed humans and other species to flourish for hundreds of thousands of years. Whatever one may think of these crises, perhaps all can agree that the world needs kind, creative, and compassionate leaders from every group and community—leaders deeply aware of the challenges we face, leaders ready to respond thoughtfully to these challenges, leaders encouraged and supported to act, not only to fulfill their personal dreams, but also to work hand-in-hand with others to create solutions to the urgent needs of their communities and societies.
This is the kind of leader the SENS program is proud to cultivate.
Due to the military coup in Myanmar, we are not able to bring two wonderful community leaders we had selected, as they are currently unable to leave the country. We have welcomed them to attend our SENS 2022 program, which we expect to begin in January of next year. We will likely be able to bring students not only from Thailand but also from Vietnam and a third country as well to participate in SENS 2021.
We Just Organized Our First Ever All SENS Alumni Gathering
Our applicants from Vietnam are a testament to the growing strength of our alumni community. Our first-ever participant from Vietnam attended SENS in 2020. Upon her return to her homeland, she wrote such a glowing report about our program that we now have some 16 applications from Vietnamese young adults! We do not have the funds to bring all of them, and we need to maintain a balance of nationalities as well, even if we only have three countries represented. Still, the interest from Vietnam has been outstanding, and we hope to bring more of our Vietnamese friends in the coming years. Other alumni have likewise played key roles in spreading the word about the SENS program.
A second example of the strength of our alumni network is that our Assistant Director in 2020, Melissa Storms, organized a meeting of SENS 2020 alumni to talk about how to respond to the dire situation of our Myanmar brothers and sisters. This meeting led to the formation of the SENS Socially Engaged Action Network (SSEAN). This will be a means by which all SENS alumni can come together to discuss and take thoughtful action on issues that require humanitarian and other forms of constructive response.
Finally, on Sunday April 4th we held our very first All SENS Alumni Gathering, which brought together representatives of five years of SENS programs. These included teachers, students, tutors, and staff. This gathering was a chance for members of each cohort to get to know those from other cohorts, as well as to reunite with members of their own. We spent much time listening and sharing stories, both personal and those that reflected on developments and needs in our respective communities and societies. Many of the attendees were visibly moved by being able to meet with other members of the SENS community, both those they knew and those they had just met.
Once again, I would like to thank you for your generous and ongoing support, support that has allowed this group of budding leaders to continue to grow together and to have beneficial impacts on our world.
Designer and Director of the SENS Programs
Dear Friends and Supporters,
We remain deeply grateful for your interest in our programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for your ongoing financial and moral support. From July to early November we designed and printed our new brochure for SENS 2021 (link below), and began learning how to take our unique approach to teaching language, leadership, and life skills online. During this period, Director Ted Mayer also completed his role as associate editor of a new book just published in late October entitled, Civic Engagement in Asia: Lessons from Transformative Learning in the Quest for a Sustainable Future. This volume includes a chapter on SENS by Ted and two additional short chapters by alumni of the SENS program, one student and one tutor. Finally, we moved forward on the recruitment and fundraising for the SENS 2021 program.
New Online Programs
The School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) has been primarily defined by its annual three-month program that has taken place in the early months of the year for each of the last five years. Many of you may not know that we also began to offer courses on site in other countries roughly three years ago. In 2018, for example, the Kalyana Mitta Foundation (KMF) in Myanmar, a member and close partner of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, invited Ted to run a three-week course at the KMF office in Yangon. Based on the success of this course, KMF and the Metta Development Foundation, also with its main office in Yangon, invited Ted to run a four-week course in Yangon in 2019. They invited staff of other Myanmar partner organizations to join. The first three weeks of this course were offered in “Office Format,” which meant that the staff of these Myanmar organizations would attend the English and leadership course led by Ted from 8:00 to 12:00 every weekday, then continue on with their regular work in the afternoon. The last week was run in “Retreat Format,” which took all students to Metta’s retreat center in Pago, where Ms. Cindy Stewart and Ms. Kham Lao Lyan joined as Assistant Teachers.
Various organizations hoped to run a similar course in Yangon this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that from happening. Instead, KMF invited Ted to teach a course series online. Ted proposed a pilot two-week online course for KMF to test out the idea first. This is because our teaching within SENS is normally highly interactive, with small group listening sessions as well as much physical movement and interaction within the classroom. We wanted to make sure we could run a similarly effective classroom online. From the end of June until mid-July, we offered 3-4 sessions in three separate courses: Basic English, Writing, and Co-Counseling. (Co-Counseling is the name we use for the listening and mutual support practice that we introduce in our various SENS classes.) These pilot courses gave Ted the time to practice new techniques that would allow these courses to work well. Our judgment, both from KMF and the SENS team, was that doing a full session would be worthwhile.
Based on the success of the pilot courses, KMF invited Ted to teach two courses—Writing and Basic English—for a period of five weeks. They also welcomed him to introduce the listening practices of Co-Counseling within these two courses, each of which would meet twice a week. We successfully ran this course from September 15th to October 17th. This experience helped us to see how much can be done within an online format. It gave us greater confidence in teaching online, and we look forward to doing such courses again, when they are appropriate.
Separately, a program initiated and supported by KMF within Myanmar, namely Education for Peace, invited Ted to teach an online introductory workshop in Co-Counseling in early September. The participants in this course were mostly recent graduates of teacher training programs offered by Departments of Education at Myanmar universities. These students have been through a series of trainings organized by KMF, helping them to rethink their role as teachers in broad terms that include reforming Myanmar education to be more student-centered, and helping to bring peace, sustainability, and self-reliance to Myanmar communities.
This workshop was held on two successive weekends on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, starting September 5th and ending September 13th. We found that the Zoom platform could allow for successful group sessions as well as periods during which students could exchange listening sessions in the privacy of breakout rooms. A number of students have continued to set up their own listening sessions following the course, and they have asked Ted to offer a follow-up to support their practice in early December.
A New Publication with Information and Reflections on the SENS Program
After sharing about our work in the SENS program under the umbrella of INEB and the Thai-registered Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation in various venues since 2016, Ted had the good fortune to be invited to attend a workshop in August of 2017 on civic engagement in Asia. The workshop, held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, was organized by the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University and the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies. Entitled Civic Engagement for a Just and Sustainable ASEAN: Our Stories and Practices, the workshop gave rise to an edited collection of articles by grassroots innovators, social entrepreneurs, and policy advocates on the work they have been doing. Ted worked on this volume as an associate editor along with Helen Hanna and Jeffrey Luzar, supporting lead editor Mochamad Indrawan in completing the work. This volume has a more personal tone than many works on sustainable development, as the authors reflect on their own learning process as they carried out what were often novel ideas in support of transformative learning and broader civic engagement. We on the SENS team are honored to be included in this volume along with scholars and social pioneers from Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, and other parts of Asia.
The volume is entitled Civic Engagement in Asia: Lessons from Transformative Learning in the Quest for a Sustainable Future. The book includes one full-length chapter by Ted on what we have aimed for and learned in the SENS program, along with two shorter essays by one of our students and one of our tutors. The book was published in September 2020, and Ted was invited to be a member of a panel at the first online book launch discussion that was held on November 7th, 2020. We are very grateful for the support and learning that we have received by being part of this network of Asian public intellectuals and by participating in the book’s publication and release.
We Are Still Recruiting for SENS 2021, to Run from May 2 – July 8, 2021
We now have 16 applicants for our SENS 2021 course, and we are engaged in selection interviews, further recruitment, and the necessary fundraising. Due to remaining travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19, we have decided to begin the SENS 2021 program in May, rather than the original January to April dates. Beginning in May gives us greater confidence in being able to bring an international contingent, and allows us to put more time into our first major revision of the SENS curriculum. This year we will focus on cultivating leaders—especially women—to take the lead in working for climate justice. Please see our attached brochure to learn more about this program. We are still looking for students and for tutors for this course, and we appreciate any efforts you may make in spreading the word.
Thank you once again for your kind support of our programs. While many aspects of the contemporary world seem to lay heavily on our shoulders these days, we are confident that human beings can find the courage to look honestly at the situation we face, and devise solutions that can allow all beings to flourish. We continue to regard the SENS program as one such solution.
Thank you on behalf of the SENS Core Work Team, consisting of Topsi Rongrongmuang, Lucy Burris, Melissa Storms, and myself!
Greetings from the INEB Institute Team! We have an update for you on our activities in the last 3 months.
The three months from March 8th to June 8th were extraordinarily eventful for us at the INEB Institute. During that period we completed the School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) 2020 program, and shortly thereafter we submitted an important grant for our SENS 2021 program.
SENS in Chet Samian
On March 9th, 2020, the entire SENS cohort moved from the Wongsanit Ashram in Nakhon Nayok to take up residence in the town of Chet Samian in the province of Ratchaburi for the remainder of the course, which was set to end a month later on April 8th. For the first time, we wanted to see whether the SENS program could function in the setting of a small Thai town. In Chet Samian we had found a very hospitable group of leading local residents, who had organized themselves into the Chet Samian Homestay Community Enterprise. Members of this group assisted us with lodging, food, classroom arrangements, and many logistical matters.
Surin, one of the key members of the homestay community enterprise, allowed his coffee house to be converted into a classroom and his homestay into the central campus of the SENS 2020 course. Another leader of the association, Ploynapas, helped with many of the housing and other arrangements. Students lived at various homestays scattered around Chet Samian, and rode bicycles to the large compound that served as the center of the program. The environment and the people in Chet Samian were very hospitable to us.
However, our planned month-long stay was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Already on June 18th we received emails from our Myanmar partners calling our two Myanmar students home. They quickly found flights, and after a tearful goodbye were on their way back to Myanmar within a few days. Just a few days later, our Indonesian student was also called back to Surakarta. Then, on the morning of June 25th, we learned that new travel restrictions could make it difficult for our Thai students to return to their homes. Furthermore, we might all be forced to spend an extended period in Chet Samian if we did not leave that very day. For this reason we hastily arranged for the final English language test and gave out the SENS 2020 Certificates, as this was to be our last day together. By that evening, everyone had packed up and said their good-byes.
Many students were able to return home immediately with hastily purchased tickets. But our student from Vietnam, plus two students and one tutor from India, were unable to find any flights home. By late June our Vietnamese student was able to fly back home with the kind help of the Vietnamese Embassy, but our Indian students had to remain in Bangkok. They continue here to this day due to the extended lockdown in India, and with thanks to another student, Oranuch Lerdkulladilok, who welcomed them at her ForOldy Center for supporting elders from poor communities in Bangkok.
All of this meant that we had to complete the class online. We felt it important to complete one of the planned presentations, in which each of the students chooses an image they find interesting and describes it with a carefully edited and practiced presentation of 6-9 lines. Throughout April Assistant Director Melissa Storms played a key role in supporting students through online meetings to practice these presentations as well as their graduation talks. We held meetings on Zoom on the 2nd and 16th of May to allow for the Image Description presentations. Then, on the 30th of May we held our Graduation Ceremony, at which all students gave short talks on what they had learned and their key goals for the coming years. The online graduation was attended by some 38 people altogether, including former SENS students and tutors, leaders of INEB, donors, and friends.
Preparations for a Redesigned SENS 2021
In May and the first part of June we began plans for submitting grant proposals for a somewhat modified SENS program in 2021. For that program, we will begin our 12-week program with a semi-independent 5-week program to support women’s leadership on climate change awareness, action, and policy advocacy. We are now seeking support to bring 12 women from Southeast Asia, in addition to another 6 participants (including men) who may be from Southeast Asia or from anywhere in the world. Our goal is to create a cadre of graduates who will have a very profound understanding of the climate crisis, its causes and impacts, and the various initiatives that will make the biggest difference in averting catastrophe. Through the SENS 2021 program we will provide them the tools for dramatically improving their skills in English, listening and mutual support, social analysis, goal setting, and bold leadership. We hope to find sufficient support to allow most if not all participants to continue on for the entire 12-week program.
The SENS 2021 program’s special 5-week section on supporting Southeast Asian women’s leadership in addressing the climate crisis will begin January 10th and end on February 13th. This will be followed by a 1-week break, and the program will continue for another 7 weeks, ending April 7th.
To prepare for the special 5-week program, we interviewed more than 15 women, mostly from Southeast Asia, on how climate change has impacted women and girls differently than men and boys in their area. We also asked what suggestions these women leaders had for how we should design our program. Through these interviews we met leaders of women’s centers in Laos and Vietnam, and spoke to many women who have already taken the lead in sustainability and climate issues. Many of them also recommended students for the program, as well as activities that would enhance our planned program.
We are deeply grateful for your ongoing interest and support. Any donation you make here at our GlobalGiving page between now and January of 2021 will support the SENS 2021 program we have outlined above.
Once again, we send you our heartfelt thanks, and we hope that you are keeping safe in this critical time.
Director of the SENS Program, Academic Director of the INEB Institute
Dear Friends of the SENS Program,
This Quarterly Report covers the period from October 15th, 2019 to January 15th, 2020. During that time we engaged in a range of activities, from preparing our 5th annual SENS course to actually beginning the course in January. We are very pleased to report that with your generous gifts to our program through GlobalGiving, combined with assistance from others, we were able to fund 14 individuals from across Asia to join the SENS 2020 course. What did this require?
I. Selection Interviews
We are engaged in a process of cultivating leadership among young Asians so they are better equipped to help create harmonious local communities and to work to mitigate the effects of the global crises of inequality and climate breakdown. With this broad vision in mind, we think of them as world leaders. Indeed, with awareness of the real local and planetary issues, and a commitment to solve them, they may be leaders in a more genuine sense than many famous politicians.
To make the SENS course effective, we need to choose participants who are likely to carry on what they learn with us. They need to be open-minded, able to listen, and committed to working for the wider good (not only their own career or family). For this reason we take our selection procedure very seriously. We begin with student applications, then follow up when appropriate with a personal interview. That interview is carried out by the Director, Ted, and by the Assistant Director, Melissa. [Melissa is an experienced university lecturer in the areas of writing, rhetoric, literature, and the use of language to undo and respond creatively to oppression.]
Through interviews over many months, including during this period, we identified roughly 18-20 students who would be excellent candidates to study in SENS. In fact, interest in the SENS program has been growing, and we were forced to turn away a number of highly qualified students, with a sincere invitation for them to apply to SENS 2021.
The 14 students we were able to fund come from the following countries: India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. This group includes students as well as young adults who work full-time. Nearly all of them are involved as volunteers or full-time workers who respond to the social issues that face their home countries and communities.
II. Biennial Conference or Our Sponsoring Network – the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)
In late October more than 200 individuals from around the world participated in INEB’s biennial conference that took place this year at the Deer Park Institute in Bir, India. This conference is important because it is a place for face-to-face meetings between individuals who are committed to understanding the contemporary world, and the place of spiritual or personal inquiry and social transformation in our time.
It is also the occasion for leadership meetings. In the conference and the leadership meetings, we have the chance to share what we are doing in the SENS program, to invite students and tutors, and to reaffirm the important place of SENS in the transformative programs of the INEB Institute for Transformative Learning.
Such connections have played an important role in allowing us to design and implement SENS programs in other countries around the Asian and ASEAN region.
III. Making it Possible for Students to Come
During the time that we are selecting students and also after completing this process, we become fully engaged in making it possible for those students to actually attend the course. Naturally this involves fundraising, but also working through the legalities of getting passports and visas.
We are delighted that with the help of the GlobalGiving platform as well as generous institutional and individual donors, we could support 14 students to attend our SENS 2020 program. We are deeply grateful for the ease of donation that GlobalGiving makes possible, which includes providing the documentation necessary for donors to receive tax deductions for their donations through GlobalGiving.
At the same time that we have increased confidence from the generous donations we’ve received, we see that we could do much more. If we had sufficient funds, we could easily have accepted four more students to attend. For this reason we will reinvigorate our efforts on the GlobalGiving platform, and think creatively about how we can make all of our fundraising more effective.
2. Documentation & Visas
Here we simply want to say that quite a number of our students come from marginalized communities who are sometimes seen in their home countries as second-class citizens. This means that many of our students need our advice and support to either obtain passports or to obtain the necessary visas to attend the SENS program. Our Logistics Coordinator Topsi Rongrongmuang is the one who expertly guides students from very different national backgrounds (and legal frameworks) to obtain the documentation necessary to bring the students.
IV. Opening Ceremony
Our Opening Ceremony took place on January 12th, 2020. The ceremony is a chance to bring together friends, supporters, and SENS alumni in the central Thai region to welcome new students and to offer an auspicious beginning to our three-month experience together. We are grateful to Dr. Pichai for offering opening remarks, and to Phra Maha Napan, a monk from the well-known Wat Saket and a graduate of SENS 2019, for attending and offering humorous and light-hearted encouragement to the SENS 2020 cohort. The students in the 2020 cohort also have the chance to speak publicly for the first time, saying who they are, where they come from, and what they hope to gain from the program.
V. Beginning the Program
The first days of our SENS program are designed to demonstrate to students that learning a language works well if it is done in a relaxed, enjoyable, and respectful environment. We demonstrate this by jumping immediately into activities that are accessible and fun for the students, and that help them to see quick improvement in their English skills. We also help the students remember their profound intelligence, and the value of the experiences they have accumulated over many years in their own local contexts. Even a highly educated resident of New York or Boston would be incapable of understanding the details of the local contexts that students have come to see and understand over many years. We assist the students in recognizing that their ability to communicate in English also allows them to share the wisdom and insights that they have acquired in their home communities. Furthermore, it allows them to share how difficulties manifest in those home communities, and to observe linkages with the stories of students from other parts of the world. This process in turn constitutes the very first steps in the formation of a worldwide network of young adults working to address and resolve common human problems, and to realize a kind of leadership and community that is based in compassion, nonviolence, and mutual understanding.
On behalf of the INEB Institute Work Team, I sincerely thank you for your continued support of the INEB Institute and its SENS 2020 Program. We are truly grateful to you all that your support is making it possible for us to run such an amazing SENS 2020 program.
The INEB Institute
To Our Generous Donors, Supporters, and Followers,
The following is an update prepared for you on recent developments in the School of English for Engaged Social service (SENS) and related projects.
This report covers the period from early May to late August 2019.
The SENS program has proven itself to be a reliable vehicle for transformative learning. We have seen each cohort of students leave with newfound self-confidence, the ability to listen more deeply, a greater understanding of the social and ecological crises we face, and a determination to plan a life that will both realize personal dreams and respond to the challenges of our time.
The purpose of this report is to keep you apprised of developments in this program. Our activities in the period covered by this third quarterly report fall into four main categories:
1) Preparations for SENS 2020
2) Raising visibility and appreciation for the work of the SENS program
3) Supporting SENS alumni
4) Expanding the work of SENS into new areas
We provide details on these activities below.
1 – Preparations for SENS 2020
Director Ted traveled to his family’s home in the U.S. during May and the early part of June. On each trip to the U.S., Ted purchases literature and materials to be given to students during the course, as well as new books and materials to enrich the INEB Institute and SENS library. Such materials are of course important as they expand on the kinds of reading material that students can make use of at their leisure in the comfortable library at our Wongsanit Ashram campus during the three-month course.
In preparation for each year’s SENS course, we need to update the Student Application Form and create a new brochure. We completed these activities during this period thanks primarily to the work of Topsi, our Logistics Coordinator, but also with the help of many others, including a graphic designer and a very flexible and accommodating printing house.
Of great importance during this period is building the work team, which includes finding a suitable Assistant Director and building a strong team of tutors. We are pleased to announce that we have hired a new Assistant Director for 2020, Melissa. Melissa is a citizen of the U.S. and a resident of Phuket, Thailand. She has an MA in Rhetoric and Composition, and a passion for language, writing, and cultivating analytical and critical thinking skills on behalf of peace and social justice. Inspired by transformational educator Paulo Freire, she has extensive experience in, and explored the boundaries of, teaching composition in a variety of venues. Among the courses she taught in the Northwest of the U.S. are: “Analytical Writing: War and Peace,” and “Research Writing: The Path to Genocide.” She received the “Inspirational Teacher of the Year Award” in 2011 from the University of Washington (CSE). We welcome Melissa to the work team. Her energetic approach to work has already given us confidence that she will contribute to making the SENS project sustainable in the medium- to long-term.
2 – Raising Visibility and Appreciation for the Work of the SENS Program
We know that the more people are aware of the quality of the work we do in SENS, and of our commitment to our students, the more we will attract students of high caliber from an even broader range of countries. Likewise, our visibility will tend to encourage support of many kinds, including financial support that can be used to offer scholarships to students with few resources. One way to heighten this visibility is to share the results of what is in fact a form of ongoing pedagogical research. This research asks how we can combine the teaching of English, leadership, and critical thinking skills in such a way that students’ self-concept, joy in learning, and capacities for transformative work in the world are truly strengthened by the course.
To this end, Director Ted has given much of his time to various writing projects. The first is a book chapter entitled, “In These Troubled Times, Could Every Classroom Become a Site of Transformation? The Story of the SENS Program,” to be published in a volume of papers on innovative civic engagement and transformative learning programs in Asia, edited by Dr. Mochamad Indrawan, a research scientist at the Research Center for Climate Change of the University of Indonesia. One SENS alumnus, Sabin, and one tutor, Mahesh, also wrote short essays on their experiences in SENS for this volume, which is expected to be published in early 2020. Ted is also developing a paper for publication that he presented at the International Symposium on Religious Life (ISRL) in Yogyakarta in the fall of 2018. Entitled “Grounds for Appreciation: Building Interfaith Solidarity by Engaging in Shared Projects and Facing Common Challenges,” the paper describes the interfaith work of the SENS program and is expected to be published early next year by Analisa, the journal of the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Ted also participated in the organizing of a conference on civic engagement and transformative learning that took place in Solo, Indonesia in late August of this year. He represented the INEB Institute at a conference that brought together academics and activists from around Southeast Asia and beyond, large numbers of young adults from Indonesia, and the mayors of a number of Indonesian cities (and one from southern Thailand), who are actively working for sustainability and for participatory governance in their cities. The conference was entitled: Civic Engagement 4.0 – The Solo Forum. It was co-organized by Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok), the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS, Yogyakarta), and Kota Kita (A City for All, based in Solo), an NGO working for citizen participation in the design and development of cities.
3 – Supporting SENS Alumni
One of the long-term aims of the SENS program is to create a community of alumni who continue to grow beyond the three-month program and who constitute a mutually supportive community. Towards this aim, we are always on the lookout for scholarships, internships, and innovative university programs that our alumni may want to apply for.
We mentioned above that two of our alumni were able to engage in a writing project for publication. This is one kind of support we have been able to provide. A second form of support is when we are able to invite our alumni to conferences and workshops where they can carry on their learning and collaboration. This was the case with the Civic Engagement 4.0 program in Solo, Indonesia. Keen to create an interactive conference to the extent possible, the organizers of the conference planned for a full afternoon of workshops. They also generously provided funds to bring assistants who could offer support to the leaders of the workshops. Two of our alumni, Dewi of Indonesia and Khudoh of Myanmar, were supported to attend the conference and to assist Ted in presenting a workshop entitled, “Listening Partnerships: Living Fully and Leading with Integrity in a Time of Crisis.” We continue to look for ways that we can support our alumni. The Civic Engagement conference was one very positive example of what we can do with the help of like-minded partners.
Following this conference, Ted gave a presentation entitled “How to Assess and Respond to Contemporary Global (and Local) Crises,” at the kind invitation of Yayah Khisbiyah, Director of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Social Change of the Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta. At this event, Dewi shared her experiences of SENS 2019, speaking to the 30 or so students and professors in Bahasa, Indonesia; in doing so, she greatly contributed to the warmth of the reception given to the talk. We are very grateful to Yayah and her team for their invitation and support.
4 – Expanding the Work of SENS into New Areas
A final area that we have been working on in the past few months is expanding the offerings of SENS. The annual SENS course that takes place in Thailand from January to April every year is intended for Intermediate to Advanced learners of English. We have long wanted to experiment with offering a SENS course for Beginners, and in August we had the chance to plan for such a course with various partners of INEB in Myanmar. There was great interest from four organizations, and plans were completed in August to offer a four-week course in Yangon with the first three weeks in an “Office Format,” which would require students to study from 8:00-12:00 every weekday and continue with their office work in the afternoon. The fourth and final week would be in “Retreat Format,” meaning students would be able to dedicate themselves fully for that week to the course content focused on English and leadership.
Please stay tuned for our next report, due by the end of the year, for further developments in the SENS program.
Thank you very much for reading, and for your ongoing support.
Ted Mayer, Director of the SENS Program
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