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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Developing an Educational Concept that Will Create Transformation!!

By Leslie YaffaI am from Canada, where multiculturalism is the fabric of education at all levels. Little is spoken about without alluding to diversity, culture and equity. This is not to say that Canada cannot improve its system with regards to multiculturalism. Yet a basic foundation has been established, and that has been solidified over the years, particularly in the area of education.     I arrived in the United States to complete a doctoral degree at a local university. It was frightening to me that an acknowledged graduate school would teach very little about diversity in its doctoral program. Yet my dissertation has to be completed. So, I would like to share the originating concept, that will not only have a transformational impact on Jamaica, but perhaps will influence the graduate school and, ultimately, convince its officials to realize how important multicultural issues are in every level of education.     The concept for my dissertation has an international/ multicultural flavor. After completing my master’s degree while living in Jamaica during that time, I vowed that any doctoral degree would be an applied document that would contribute to a collective effort of moving a community forward. Here, this community happens to be the youth in Jamaica, and perhaps the Caribbean. In many ways I would like this article to chronicle my journey and provide me with feedback from the community at large.     I have spent years trying to explore avenues that create alternatives for diverse disenfranchised youth. Various dimensions and processes have stemmed from those years. After living in Jamaica and working with primarily West Indian youth, it can be seen that what is plaguing this population has many layers and cultural support systems distinct to other global communities.     The road to effective and cost efficient programming is multi-faceted and complex. When using the youth mentoring model of service combined with applied research, it puts forth strategies that have been demonstrated to be effective tools for the population in the country.     The ultimate goal is to build programming to improve conditions that presently exist in urban centers in Jamaica. This grassroots-approach to service will pair the older youth (usually these youth are unemployed) who will be trained to assist in programming in the environment. In this case it is the YWCA in Kingston. The older youth will have continued learning by not only committing to working with younger youth, but also gaining skills which will be facilitated weekly for their growth and development.     Although mentoring is not a new concept and has a history of well placed programming, positive encounters must and will be revealed. I will research the community in different phases of the process, which may lead to anger, pain, frustration, or a sense of helplessness. Mentors will learn to build on emotions of the community so the state of mind will start to shift.     In building a leadership base through mentoring, it is quintessential to acknowledging the leadership that already exists in the community. It should be recognized that citizens are always experts of their own communities; and when programming is developed, we simply are conduits, facilitating a process. It is very important to me, as an advocate of cross-cultural awareness, to acknowledge the strengths of the community and its value as a contributor.    The evaluation and development will include the community, approximately ten adolescents (15-17 years of age) who are currently under-employed. The YWCA in Kingston, Jamaica will identify these youth, who will be involved with both the development and evaluation of the project for the year 2006-2007. Under-employed, in this forum, is described as adolescents who use the YWCA as an outlet because they cannot afford to go to postsecondary learning.   These youth must commit to the project for segments of time and be available to attend scheduled workshops and life skill sessions. Criteria for selection will be random and based on the relationship the YWCA has with each adolescent.Youth will be set up to work with younger children in a community school to enhance the academic milieu for four days in the week. The fifth day will be spent in organized life skills activities that will advance goals for the youth, furthering their school progress etc.     I will set up programming and stay in Jamaica for two weeks in early spring 2006, the YWCA executive director will continue to monitor programming as it has been set forth from April 2006-August 2006. I will be either on the island or in direct correspondence with the executive director in this time period.     The goal is to, in a timely manner, move the youth from under-employed to education or employment. This will be sought with community participation and gaining skills that can be transferable to education or employment. The youth must be from an urban neighborhood and have a minimum of what is equivalent to an eighth grade education in North America.     The ultimate ambition with this evaluation is to develop programming that could incorporate/facilitate cooperative independence for the community, improve self-esteem for the youth and have those same adolescents understand a sense of ownership that could lead to important contributions and advancements for themselves.    This project will certainly renew my paradigm and shift my learning from when I was originally working in Jamaica. It will expectantly turn into a document that will not only be understood by academics but more importantly by the community as well.Leslie Yaffa is an Ed.D. candidate at the Fischeler Graduate School of Education Nova Southeastern University. She may be reached at yaffa@nova.edu .

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