10 years at CICD - what a ride it has been!

Mel-10-years-banner Mel volunteered with DAPP Mozambique

Hello again.

It is Mel writing to share with you this year’s personal celebration – 10 years at CICD.

10 years ago I was enrolling as a student at CICD. I sent my enrolment papers, had video calls and was accepted into the Gaia programme and the Fighting with the Poor programme (that was an 18 month programme). 10 years ago my dream of becoming a volunteer was taking shape. I started making my plans, finished that university year and by October 2013 I made my way to Winestead Hall. My time as a Development Instructor I spoke no English, or I knew as much as colours, numbers and the basic “How are you?”. I was 20 years old, inexperienced and what I call – raw. I had a shock arriving at CICD and my first weeks were not easy. I could not understand the common language so communication was an issue at the beginning, I was not used to share my time and space with so many people, I was not used to take responsibility in such a way as I did here. There were quite a few times in the first month that I thought of leaving and going back to my friends and family. I did not. I made the Gaia programme as a site finder for 6 months and, together with my Gaia team, we managed to raise our scholarship.

Being a Development Instructor....

During those first 6 months I did learn how to speak English, I adapted to community life and I learned about Gaia and the Environmental crisis we are in. After the Gaia Programme I had 6 intense months of studies. We were 13 people in my team and we learned about how the World works, the gap between Rich and Poor, solidarity, empowerment, activism, African countries and their history, Humana People to People, I got ready to do Development work at ISET – One World in Mozambique and much more.

Enjoying the yearly big Building Weekend at Tvind in Denmark

Enjoying the yearly big Building Weekend at Tvind in Denmark

Helping DAPP Malawi to serv food for primary school children

Helping DAPP Malawi to serv food for primary school children

At anti racism demonstration in London, together with CICD

At anti racism demonstration in London, together with CICD

Those 6 months of programme before going to the project feel to me that were a long time ago and at the same time feel like yesterday. Following that I went to the project in Mozambique where I spent 6 months. My position at the project was to be a teacher together with the existing teachers. I was teaching but more than anything I was learning. I had 42 students that were studying Community Development. Those 6 months were very rich in challenges and highlights. Doing Community Development work in the rural areas of Mozambique together with my students was an eye opening experience. I learned from the Mozambicans that empowerment of communities is made by the communities themselves and we only give a little boost. The Power of the Collective took a new shape in my understanding and so many of the theoretical learning I have got during the programme at CICD then, there, took full shape as I saw it in reality.

After those 6 months I came back and finished my programme by doing the Bringing it to the Public Period – a period that made me realise how much I had learned, academically and in practise - and how much I had developed myself during the time in the programme.

... and becoming Another Kind of Teacher

After doing the programme I was not ready or wanted to continue with my life as I had predicted I would do. I did not want to go back to my country and return to my old normal. Something did not feel good about that and it was strange cause I did and I do miss my family and friends there. That period was essential for me to put my feet back on the floor and think throught what I wanted as a next step. What I really wanted was to continue with my new normal. The opportunity to become a teacher at CICD was there and I happily took that opportunity. To stay at CICD felt like to stay home and to continue here feels exactly like that – home.

Now I have summarised my time as a Development Instructor. Since I became a teacher at CICD I have had different teams, with different project country destinations and different lengths. Some programmes we do not run anymore and all of the programmes we run now at CICD have been updated and or created recently. During the past years I was for a period the Gaia team teacher, I had 2 of the 24 month programme teams, 2 of the 10 month programme teams, a 5 month programme team, a 3 month programme team (summer programme), I had 3 of the 12 month programme teams and the 18 month programme teams in their BITTP (Bringing it to the Public) periods.

Mel with our Climate Activists helping with big beach cleaning with community in St Vincent

Mel with our Climate Activists helping with big beach cleaning with community in St Vincent

In London, supporting at demonstration to mobilise against Global Warming &  Climate Change

In London, supporting at demonstration to mobilise against Global Warming & Climate Change

New team starting their 5 months training & study period  to prepare for the service period in Africa

New team starting their 5 months training & study period to prepare for the service period in Africa

The past 10 years I have seen a good amount of students, exactly as I was, coming to CICD, preparing themselves here at the school, going to the projects and coming back full of hope for a better future after seeing and being part of doing real development – from People to People. The years have been full, and once again as a teacher I have been learning much more than I have taught. Being a teacher has also given me a unique opportunity to travel with my students, doing investigations and acquiring more and more knowledge. I’ve travelled around UK doing investigations, actions and what we call “survival trips”. I have been to many European countries during my own Bring it to the Public and some of my students BITTP period too. I’ve been to Palestine and Israel doing investigations with students. I’ve had the great opportunity to travel in Southern African Countries (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia), investigating the countries and getting to know many different Humana People to People projects while also doing actions, together with my students. I’ve been to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a team, to do different actions of Climate Activism after the La Soufriere volcano erupted. Looking at the past 10 years here at CICD, the experiences I have gotten, the opportunities I have had, are something that I never imagined I could get. Listing these experiences, all these travels is quite amazing to me but I think more than anything else I have enjoyed the time at CICD itself, that is the core of the whole experience for me…

The challenges are like the hight lights: never ending

The programmes we run, the students, teaching and learning, the constant coming and going of people which is a life changing experience for most. The challenges are like the high-lights: never ending My teacher’s Council has been there since the beginning of my experience here. We are a group of 5 people and the value we share in our life and work is not possible to measure. Having been at CICD for this long, which for me is quite long, has been a never ending source of new learning, of acquiring new skills and of growing as a person. The challenges are like the highlights: never ending and I think that gives me immense strength. Running CICD is not always easy but when you know for a fact that you are not alone, that you are believed in, that you are counted on, that you are needed and that your responsibilities at the place are part of securing it…all of these makes it way more than a normal job. Makes it an extremely rewarding life choice. This would have never been possible if we, the Teachers Council, would not stick together, at all times, through the windy and the sunny times.

Doing Development work is not easy, it is much needed and it takes a huge amount of time. I see students coming and going… team after team and THE thing is that each of us, Development Instructors, student and teachers, are just a little drop in the ocean of making a change. What I usually say is that these many of us make a wave and a wave of change, knowledge, activism and hope is exactly what I find the World needs. 10 years ago I was making a choice, to come to CICD and what a ride it has been.

This year is actually CICD’s 25th anniversary and I am happy to say that I have been part of the last 10.

Thank you for reading, Mel

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Saturday, 18 May 2024