Sunday, March 11, 2018

Greetings from the Western Hemisphere Alumni!

Did you know that upon graduating, every Future Generations University alumni joins a global network of social change practitioners from around the world? Within Future Generations Center for Research and Practice, alumni belong to 3 regions (Asia, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere), and are each represented on the Board of Trustees by one of their own. 

This week, the alumni representative for the Western Hemisphere, Ellen Romm Lampert, gives us an introduction to some of its diverse members and their work!

Hi! My name is Ellen Romm Lampert, and I am presently the Future Generations representative for the wonderful and diverse Western Hemisphere Alumni.

Although the Western Hemisphere Alumni group has the smallest number of members, we have by far the largest geographical area. Just look at a map! Western Hemisphere Alumni hail from North America, the Caribbean, Central America and South America, including Canada, the U.S., Nicaragua, Haiti, Guyana, Peru, and Bolivia. We speak English, Spanish, French, and quite a few localized languages, as well. This blog introduces a few of our very dynamic female alumni. A future post will introduce some of our male alumni.

Meet Yamini Bala

Yamina in "Big Red," pictured right, with all of her new friends!
Yamini is originally from Upstate New York. At present she lives in Chicago and works as the administrator for three Montessori pre-schools, while considering what to do next. Yamini completed the Future Generations Masters degree in Applied Community Change in 2007, graduating in Bhutan. For a brief period she ran her own very innovative high school in Chicago, and then, in October of 2014…Yamini joined the University of Alaska Fairbanks research team on the Velvet Ice Expedition, to do fieldwork on the WAIS (West Antarctic Ice Sheet). Yamini became part of the team through PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Collaborating), a program which takes teachers and places them with scientists in real, multi-week research projects in the polar regions. The concentration for Yamini’s team was to focus on the microstructures that comprise ice crystals in the WAIS, putting down instruments in the bore hill.  Yamini’s additional tasks were to produce a K-12 curriculum in relation to the team’s research and to write blog posts documenting the trip.
In December 2014, Yamini’s team met up at the Antarctic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand, where they were issued ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear that included a 20- lb. “Big Red,” the Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
The team flying from Christchurh to McMurdo Sound.

To read more about Yamina and the team's adventures, visit the following links:
You can find a more traditional chronicle of the team’s two-month stay in Antarctica on Facebook, at Velvet Ice Expedition. Yamini herself does not have a Facebook page, but you can find her on Twitter @frozenyamini.

Meet Mavis Joan Windsor

Mavis harvesting seaweed. The Heiltsuk are
traditionally a seafaring people; from April to
late May, tribal members sail out to pick seaweed.
Mavis lives in Bella Bella, British Columbia, Canada, on an island north of Vancouver and south of Alaska. Mavis is a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation. The Heiltsuk People have inhabited the central coast of British Columbia for 14,000 years. Today 1200 tribal members live on the Heiltsuk reserve and 900 live off reserve. Mavis is the head social worker for her tribe, and in this capacity has instituted summer camps for young people to learn about and preserve traditional tribal skills and language. Talk to Mavis, and she can tell you all about Heiltsuk festivals, traditional foods, medicine and dress. Listening to Mavis talk about her traditional tribal culture is an education.

Mavis completed her Masters degree in Applied Community Change and Conservation in 2007, graduating in Bhutan. Some of you may be acquainted with two additional members of Mavis’ family. Kelly Brown (class of 2005) is Mavis’ brother-in-law, and Lori Mason is her niece.

Traditional tribal journey from Bella Bella to Cowichan, and teaching the youth to preserve their traditions.

Mavis in traditional tribal dress.

You can find Mavis on Facebook, at Mavis J. Windsor.


Meet Ellen Romm Lampert

Ellen and the Taos Pueblo near where she
lives in New Mexico.
It is entirely possible that I am the oldest alum of Future Generations. The past 69 years have been action-packed. At present I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A lot of people, Americans included, have no idea that New Mexico is in the geographical center of the U.S.  The nation of Mexico is about a four-hour drive away from my home. We have a lot of bi-national families in our geography and, as these people often say, “We never crossed the border, it crossed us!”
I completed my Master's degree in Applied Community Change and Conservation in the class of 2007, graduating in Bhutan. My thesis was on the border problems we currently experience on the New Mexico / Mexico border. As a state in the U.S., New Mexico is an anomaly. In addition to our two official languages – English and Spanish – our election ballots include four indigenous languages. Until recently I was a consultant to the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the largest official professional exchange program run by the U.S. government. My job was to make appointments for special guests of the U.S. government and escort them to meet their counterparts in New Mexico, and then write up the summaries of their visits. These visits were generally of 5 days duration. During my years with the IVLP, I was in charge of groups from Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. The groups consisted of anywhere from two to twenty guests who were invited on a tour of 4 – 5 cities. Every few months I visited the agencies in Washington D.C. responsible for the overall tours for these guests, to assess the agenda requirements for each visit.

Like many Americans, I have lived a transient life. Originally, I am from Hollywood, California and I attended university in Mexico City, and lived in Japan and worked in West Africa and South America. Returning to Los Angeles in the 1980s, I worked as a California Arts Council Artist-in-Social Institutions - working in the juvenile prison system, running a wall murals project. After leaving Los Angeles definitively, I spent 16 years in Germany, where I was initially a professor of visual arts at the University of Cologne, and then foreign languages editor at Ballett International, and finally the CEO of a company I built in the foreign-languages sector. In 2000 I returned to the U.S., wondered where I should live, and landed in Santa Fe.
Work from when Ellen was living in Abidjan in 1981.

Ellen's prison students in California, 1987.

In 1990 in Hanover, Germany, Ellen (bottom right) worked with this
group of high school students to create a mural at a train station.

Ellen on the day the Berlin Wall came down-- she had been lecturing
nearby, so she and her daughter made a trip to watch.
So what do I do now, here in Santa Fe, with a degree in Applied Community Change and Conservation? I run Slow Food Santa Fe. We are members of the international Slow Food organization, headquartered in Italy. The overall mission of Slow Food is, “Good, Clean and Fair.” Our specific mission in Santa Fe is food literacy, that is to say, education about accessible nutrition and localized consumption. My state, New Mexico, is the poorest state in the U.S. and New Mexico is an agrarian state, with a normal rainfall of only 7 inches per year. With such a restricted water supply, our farmers are very adept at what is called “dry farming,” but they do not produce enough crop to make New Mexico food sovereign. Food and water security, and chronic hunger, are big and constant topics in New Mexico. We do have a complete system of organic farmers’ market, supported by the state government. That is a start. And we have a great crew of people who work on maintaining the watershed. The autonomous indigenous nations in New Mexico (there are 19 of them) have begun to make themselves food sovereign. It is perhaps easier in that context, because these indigenous nations are so tiny.  My group is involved in disseminating information and fomenting discussion about the best way to access and maintain optimal nutrition.   
You can find me on Facebook at Ellen Romm Lampert.
You can find Slow Food Santa Fe on Facebook at
You can find Slow Food International at
You can find Slow Food USA at
 Many thanks to Ellen for putting together this week's entry and for sharing even more of the Future Generations Family with us! 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Participatory Research and Plant Breeding in Honduras: Improving Livelihoods, Transforming Gender Relations

Did you know that Future Generations University regularly hosts live research seminars with development professionals of all backgrounds from around the world?

Check out the recording of February's seminar below on participatory research and plant breeding in Honduras, and learn how its being used to improve livelihoods while transforming gender roles!

Follow us on Facebook to keep posted on the dates of upcoming seminars and for information on how to join in!

This seminar is presented by Dr. Sally Humphries, Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

Sally was director of the international development studies program at Guelph for 12 years.  She has worked with Honduran researchers for 25 years to support a program in farmer participatory research. The Honduran NGO Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers (FIPAH), emerged out of this work and is today a well-respected organization, both locally and regionally.  Sally worked for the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) between 1991-94 and helped to adapt one of the methodological approaches developed in CIAT, known as the CIAL methodology, to conditions in Honduras, where it is widely, and successfully, used today.  FIPAH, Sally, and her students, have published a variety of articles/chapters/reports on this experience.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Alumni Update: Anthony Kadoma

This week, we hear from Anthony Kadoma, a Future Generations University alumnus working in Uganda. Anthony began his MA journey in 2012 with a focus in Peacebuilding. Throughout, he maintained continuous engagement with his existing community work in Kyenjojo district, in western Uganda. Anthony says that learning with and from the community was crucial during his studies, as it was where he put into practice what he was learning. Read on to learn more about Anthony's work and experience!

In 2014, Anthony implemented a project on developing guidelines for disseminating practicum findings at the community level. During this project, practicum findings on the topic “Adapting Poverty Reduction Strategies at Individual, Household and Community Level: Practicum Research Conducted in Nyamanga Parish, Bufunjo Sub-county in Kyenjojo district, Western Uganda” were presented to the community members.

Listening attentively to issues raised by local community members.

In 2016, a project on the introduction of SEED-SCALE to community health workers to facilitate community development was implemented. In this project, over 40 community health workers as well as local leaders and politicians were purposively identified and trained to facilitate SEED-SCALE processes in their respective communities. This was a major project that brought on board so many community members in the district as more and more people got to hear of and learn about the concept of SEED-SCALE.
A cross-section of community health workers and sub-county officials who attended a 
training on Seed-Scale in Bufunjo, sub-county in October 2016.

As a result of the above project, the following results were achieved:

  • Over 1,575 people were reached with training and knowledge on SEED-SCALE and how it operates.    
  • Group formation and strengthening in the target communities where over 15 new groups were formed. Old groups have been re-energized and got more committed to work together as a team to realize their set objectives.  
  • More group members are taking action together, this has led to increased use of their human energy in activities like local road repairs, construction of kitchens, dry racks, fish pond construction, and starting savings groups.
  • The sub-county leadership is actively involved and assists community members in advancing their perceived agenda. 
  • There is empowerment strengthening especially among the people who are members of the groups through their active engagements in community related activities. 

The latest effort to promote and engage community members in the process of development is under a project called "Documenting the Process of Community Change in Kandama village Bufunjo Sub-county, Kyenjojo district western Uganda". This process of documenting community change is useful in understanding how change happens at the local level. For this change to happen as stated in the SEED-SCALE principles.

Rwenjaza Yahura Yehoza (Savings and Loans) association members.
The process of community change:

  1. As stated in Just and Lasting Change (2016), each community is unique and therefore, community change is a gradual process and is difficult to notice it if it happens in communities where there is some development already. However, for one which is still developing of which Kandama is one of them any change that occur it is easily noticeable. For instance, when a home puts up a drying rack, pit latrines, eating three meals, balanced diet among others.   
  2. The guiding principle in this process of change is the rising quality of life. This happens when homes are shifting from small huts which are grass thatched to iron roofed, and then to semi-permanent houses, increasing number of school going children and ensuring that they stay and complete basic levels. For our case in Uganda that is primary seven.  Also, working towards increasing personal and household income.  
  3. Effort were made in the initial stages of my engagement with the communities to ensure that people are mobilized and are able to identify and work towards achieving their felt needs, gather voice and demand for quality service delivery from the duty bearers.
  4. Then, people start to coalesce around issues that affect them as a group and community. A case in point are groups of savings and loans, farmers groups and service provision.
  5. The selected coordinating committee members have continued to engage the community members in their own development. 

Efforts undertaken so far to support community development and how I have used SEED-SCALE:

  1. Kandama village is one of the villages in Bufunjo sub-county where I have worked previously.   My entry point to this community was through the Community Health Worker who was identified and trained alongside others to facilitate community development using the seed-scale approach.
  2. The process started with the training of the village ‘influential person’ the Community Health Workers. This training did not only introduce the concept of seed-scale to the community but also to the community leaders such the village chairperson, the parish chiefs who are by the laws of Uganda supposed to spearhead the development process at that level.
  3. In an effort to strengthen community development and change Local Coordinating Committees were selected to work alongside the community health worker and the community members.
  4. I have personally visited and trained the formed groups in the community comprising of both men and women. These groups are considered as the engine for community change.
  5. Conducted household visits to build capacity of the community members to continuously monitor themselves in my absence for sustained progress to be achieved. Some are to act as role models to energize the rest of the community members.

Future Generations University Alumni visiting one of the households in Kandama villages.

  1. Community members have woken up and are more conscious of their surroundings. They have started questioning why they are the way they are as expressed by the community health worker “Our people are now sharp and they can ask very important questions especially to politicians and government workers. They no longer want to be deceived like it was in the past”.
  2. Since seed-scale promotes the use of human energy, group formation has been a key activity and highly encouraged among the community members. “I’ve observed that community members can better monitor the activities of their fellow community members because they live with them and they are able to see most of the things that they do everyday”. This juxtaposed with external monitors it works better and is sustainable. 
  3. Three way partnership as emphasized in seed-scale is already taking place in Kandama community. This is because the alumni is a change and external agent, trained the local political leadership to work with the community members as well as working with community groups. Over time, the external agent and the political leadership role is slowly withdrawing and the community leadership is taking root through the selected local coordinating committee which is now mandated to spearhead any other activities alongside community members.

Impact of the work done so far

  1. Several groups have been formed and continue to be formed to discuss challenges and opportunities that the communities are presented with. Because of good organisation, some communities have become role models as others come to learn from them. “I have had people coming to this community and appreciate what is happening as everyone is now focused at doing things that can improve their living standards”.
  2. As people started meeting and discussing issues that affect them they even started suggesting possible solutions. This started the process of holism where most aspects of life were advancing. For example, when groups were made mostly with women, they got registered and accessed government support[1] say of improved seed varieties.  
  3. There is noted increase in enthusiasm to use human energy “In the last two years I have seen a lot of changes in our community as people started being organized into group”. People used to complain that they have been neglected by those in power but now are appreciating the fact that themselves can do something to change their ways of living.
  4. There is establishment of local leadership in form of coordinating committees which is not only voluntary but also annually held.

Finally the question that remains is how to promote positive growth in your community, identifying the local resources and success for scaling up, how to keep people motivated to take local action for sustained development. 
[1] Government programs such as NAADS and Operation Wealth Creation do target community groups


Anthony Kadoma is a Social Change and Community Development Specialist with a Masters of Arts Degree in Applied Community Change and Peacebuilding (October 2013) from Future Generations University WV USA and a Bachelors Degree of Adult and Community Education (2006) from Makerere University Kampala Uganda. Anthony has since 2007 had consistent work experience in areas of consultancy and community engagements primarily focusing on how to improve peoples’ livelihoods through devising ways and means on how they can work collectively as individuals, households and communities. His career objective is to contribute to the body of knowledge where innovation, creativity and growth are given room to flourish in a global community using the SEED-SCALE development approach that puts emphasis on the use and development of human energy which is a universal resource to all mankind.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Holiday Greeting from the President of Future Generations University

Dear Future Generations Family,

As 2017 comes to an end, we take pause to think about all for which we are grateful. We also look to 2018 and what we hope the new year may bring for our organization and for the world. In both cases, the continued friendship of our supporters is a large part of the answer.

As a world-circling organization, you, our Future Generations family, is what sustains us and knits us together. We’ve thrived over the past year because of your support. Our global team grows with the great work of so many.

We look forward to another year of this partnership as we all draw inspiration from those working around the world to bring peace and sustainability in those places most in need.

Future Generations thanks all who have helped grow a universe of learning for the greater good, and wishes you a joyous holiday season and a new year filled with peace and happiness.

Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 4, 2017

Meet Kelli Fleming: Future Generations University's new Assistant Professor and Director of Learning Management!

Having grown up in Surkhet, Nepal, Kelli has long been aware of Future Generations from its work there. She went on to pursue a Master's in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University and has held a number of different roles in higher education throughout the years with her latest being in the online distance learning world. She has focused on the pedagogical approach to this unique field, finding the best ways to teach online in an interactive and engaging manner with her global audience in mind. 
For the last 7 years, Kelli lived in New Zealand (as shown in her beautiful photos accompanying this entry) with her husband and their two young boys. There, she took on tailoring the online learning experience to fit mid-career global professionals for a program run by the University of Otago at its medical school in Wellington.
She worked with the aviation medicine program, which was fully online and taught the principles of the subject to general practitioners all over the world. Once a year, the program hosted week-long site visits to learn best practices from major airlines. The emphasis on building learning around these face-to-face interactions shares a purpose very similar to that of Future Generations residentials.
Kelli notes that although the content of her past program is very different from the Future Generations Master’s program, there are many similarities upon which she’s excited to build. Her experience with a fully online program fits very well with Future Generations move to make residentials optional, and she is already very familiar with the learning platforms used here (Moodle and Zoom). 

 “I knew nothing about aviation medicine,” Kelli says, “but a lot about teaching online isn’t necessarily in the content. Much of what makes it a fruitful platform is the scaffold around which you build the learning. And that's what I'm here to help facilitate for Future Generations.”
Kelli and her family moved back to the United States in the summer to be closer to their larger families and currently reside in Blacksburg, VA. On what appealed to her about seeking to join Future Generations, Kelli says, "I've always lived sort of an international life, so I was excited about being able to live in Blacksburg while remaining involved in the global education world. I also really like the idea of a dedicated non-profit that's doing some big things from a small place in the U.S. for other small places around the world. I'm looking forward to working with others focused on global community."
Bringing her background work to play in the Future Generations context, Kelli will be leading project management and tech support for our learning management systems, as well as working with staff on the assessment front to develop innovative learning activities to showcase in students' e-portfolios.
The removal of mandatory residentials, Kelli notes, changes where the teaching energy goes. She will help maximize online activities so that they remain inviting for students. It’s important in a blended platform like ours that someone be in place to keep that energy going. Some keys to this will be in the development of new teaching artifacts, implementation of effective online simulations, and by keeping up the engagement in online forums.  

With online learning, there is an ever-present challenge to create a learning community that keeps students involved through methods other than traditional classroom setting. However in many ways, Kelli likes to think online learning can be made to be even more advantageous than classroom learning. It leads the way to innovation and opens the opportunity to learn from others around the world.

One of the things our new Learning Management Director finds the most rewarding is supporting students that already have very busy, full lives and helping them to work their ongoing education into their life balance.

Kelli looks forward to laying a foundation with the upcoming Class 2019 that will lead to the best student experience possible and to tailoring a learning platform that doesn’t make students feel as though they’re being held back by the technology, but rather guided forward by it.  

Future Generations is very excited to be taking this step forward with Kelli leading the charge-- please join us in extending her the warmest of welcomes!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Practicing Conflict Management & More in Africa

This week on the blog, Future Generations alumnus Jonathan Tim Nshing shares with us some of the impressive work he's completed, as well as details a particular project he and another graduate undertook after winning an alumni collaboration grant from the Global Network...

Jonathan's Background with Future Generations:

Jonathan's Master's Practicum Thesis
Recently, I carried out a project with the support of Future Generations University called Promotion of Peace Awareness Among Youths in Cameroon. More information on this work can be found on the Facebook page of the Cameroon Youth Partnership ( This project was funded by the Davis Projects for Peace, USA and was carried out in 2015. 

Last year 2016, I and another alumnus, Uchenna Rowland, implemented a similar project entitled: "Documenting and Analyzing Traditional Conflict Management Techniques in Africa. Case Study: Nigeria and Cameroon," which was funded by an Alumni Frant awarded annually by Future Generations Global Network. This project valorized African traditional methods and institutions of conflict management. We also came up with a procedural manual on traditional conflict management techniques in Africa.

Nexus Fund builds & strengthens local
communities to help prevent mass attrocities
I completed another related project in March of 2017, entitled “Deconstructing the Terrorist Narrative among Young People in Cameroon," funded by the Nexus Fund, USA. We came out of it with findings indicative of the process of radicalization of young people in Cameroon and produced the working document “Youth De-Radicalization Compendium.” 

At the moment, we are implementing another project funded by the Future Generations Global Network on the provision of two hand pumps to the Garyea Community in Liberia and the extension of the Nboung Water Network in Nboung-Nkwen, Bamenda. 


Garyea Town is part of the Yelequelleh District, Gbartala, Bong County. It has been in existence as a community for more than fifty years. The community has 11 households with a population of 1350 persons. Of that number, 37% are females. The town has seven satellite villages with a population of 300 persons. Garyea geographical position has remain a challenge for the community for many years. It is located on a mountain of rocks making it difficult for the people to access water for survival. In fact like other communities where water are found in creeks and streams and serve as point for drinking, Garyea source of water comes from the rocks on the mountains which for many reasons are insufficient, dirty, and difficult to get. As the community seeks new source of water for drinking, so are they exposed to many water borne diseases.  

The project is designed to rehabilitate a damaged pump and also construct a new pump for the community.  The project will provide resources for training of pump mechanics and technicians as part of the Community WASH Committee so that maintenance will be guaranteed going forward.   The project will provide training and awareness in the areas of gender, environment, disabilities, and WASH. The project is inclusive of water and sanitation awareness for the community. The project will work with existing leadership on the grounds like the CWC to provide leadership for project implementation.  The project is expected to last for one year to be turned over to the community. The project will be implemented using a tripartite memorandum of understanding between DCS, local community and the Bong County WASH Office.


Nboung village is one of the neighborhoods or villages located in the Bamenda III Sub-Division in Mezam Division of the North West Region. It is about 15 minutes drive from Bamenda City, situated along the road from Bambui Four Corners to Nforya in Bafut SubDivision. It has an estimated population of 1000 inhabitants. The village has never had pipe-borne water. The villagers trek for as much as 2 kilometres to access water from open streams and sometimes they rely on wells that are hardly treated and not safe for drinking, as such they are exposed to water- borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera among others.

This project aims at supporting the extension of the Nboung Water Project Piping network in Nkwen Bamenda. This village does not have pipe borne water but have succeeded to build their catchment and a water storage tank. What is left is the extension of the piping network from the catchment area to the village square over a distance of 1.5 kilometres. The inhabitants of the village will then be able to connect the water from the main water network or grid into their homes. The village water committee will thereafter construct seven stand taps around the village

The following  are photos of the project that we are currently doing with funding from Future Generations Global Network, which includes the construction of two hand pumps in Garyea County, Liberia and extension of water supply in Nboung, Cameroon:
Hand pump construction in Garyea County, Liberia
Water supply extension in Nboung, Cameroon

This week's blog was contributed by Jonathan Tim Nshing, a member of Future Generations University's Class of 2015. As a school counselor by training, Jonathan has over thirteen years of service, having worked with schools, youth groups and local communities in the North West Region of Cameroon. It is also important to note that Jonathan is the founder of the Cameroon Youth Partnership. Cameroon Youth Partnership is a community-based organization aimed at the empowerment of young people through offering them information and counseling on youth related issues such as jobs, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, peace advocacy, and fighting violence in all its forms.  


If you wish to support the work of the Cameroon Youth Partnership, please contact: or You may also contact Future Generations on our behalf. If you wish to specifically support the water projects in Liberia and/or Cameroon, contact Future Generations or Future Generations Global Network.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Graduation Reflections

Today on the blog, our Chief Academic Officer, Christie Hand, takes the time to share with us just how special the last residential and Commencement were for the Class of 2017...

      There is nothing quite like the privilege of spending two intense weeks with Future Generations University students on one of their field residentials.  I just returned from the Philippines where nineteen students in the Class of 2017 – from the three regional cohorts of Africa, Himalaya, and Appalachia - gathered for their Term IV residential and for the celebration of Commencement.  The setting was perfect – the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction’s beautiful James Yen Center in Silang, Cavite, just south of Manila.  Dr. James Yen, the founder of IIRR, was passionate about participatory and people-centered development.   Likewise, Future Generations students are passionate about making a positive impact in their communities.

      The residential began with four days of instruction and practice in Building Bridges through Intergroup Dialogue, facilitated by U.S. Institute of Peace instructors, Dr. Alison Milofsky and Ariana Barth.  Students worked on skills in active listening, examining beliefs and assumptions, and negotiating identity as they prepared to facilitate their own dialogue.  Building on the trust developed over their past two years together, they were able to navigate sensitive issues which often involved sharing on a deep personal level.

      Following the dialogue course, students enjoyed a two-day field visit to Taal Lake and Volcano Protected Area, meeting with the NGO Pusod, which has ambitious goals of ensuring a pollutant-free and sustainable ecosystem of Taal Lake and a disaster preparedness plan for the people on and around Volcano Island.  Pusod is run by a small, and very capable, team under the leadership of Executive Director Ann Hazel.  One of the highlights was crossing by boat to Volcano Island where we hiked or road on horseback (some of us did both!) up to the crater.  Steam escaping from vents at the top reminded us that it is still an active volcano, and is eventually due for an eruption.

      Back in the classroom at the Yen Center, students enjoyed four days of Strategic Leadership instruction with Dr. Ben Lozare, Director for Training and Capacity Building at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Communications Programs.  Ben has been co-teaching the leadership course with Dr. Henry Mosely since Future Generation’s first Master’s cohort. Henry, unfortunately, could not make it to the Philippines, but Ben had no problem engaging students the whole time with his passion, his stories, and wisdom gained over many years of experience in international development.  Particularly appropriate was the recounting of his involvement in the nonviolent People’s Power Movement in the Philippines during the 1980’s, which led to the departure of President Marcos, and laid the foundation to the leadership and communications principles which Ben ascribes to and teaches.  Students came away from the course with a deeper understanding of shared vision and the role that socially accepted fiction plays in their community work.

       Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction was the final course of the residential, taught by IIRR President Isaac Bekalo and trainer Wilson Barbon.  As this is an area of expertise for IIRR, they were able to share frameworks for assessing hazard prevention and mitigation as well as analyzing community vulnerability and disaster risk.  A half-day field visit to Rosaria, on Manila Bay, helped students to put the principles in context as this area is in particular danger from typhoons. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers are trained to respond to typhoon warnings, mobilizing the community and ensuring prompt evacuation to higher ground. They also train youth in disaster preparedness skills and strategies.

      And the climax of the residential?  Celebrating the graduation of students who, after 20 months of hard work, earned their MA in Applied Community Change.  In a ceremony highlighting student diversity and unity, each of the regional cohorts chose a speaker and a song to share.  Zerihun Damenu, Director of IIRR’s Ethiopia country program, spoke for the Africa Cohort followed by the song Africa Unity presented by all 12 students representing Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, and Ghana.  Mone Gurung, Program Coordinator for Future Generations Arunachal, spoke for the Himalayan Cohort, followed by the Nepali song Hami Bikaska Sahajkarta Haun (We are development facilitators) powerfully led by Bhim Nepali and accompanied by other Indian (from Arunachal Pradesh) and Nepali students.  Ashley Akers of West Virginia represented the Appalachian Cohort with her speech and signing of a portion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “moving forward” speech:  “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  Country Roads was appropriately chosen as the Appalachian student song but was given an international flair with students and faculty from around the globe joining in.

      As students crossed the stage to receive their Master’s hood (green and blue lining for the school colors with citron for the field of social work), their diploma, and to shake hands with Future Generations University President Daniel Taylor and IIRR President Isaac Bekalo, we realized that this was not a completion as much as a commencement, or even a continuation.  They were recruited into the program as community change agents and they would continue to facilitate transformation in their communities, equipped now with tools and skills that they didn’t have before.  As alumni of Future Generations University, they join a Global Network of alumni and community practitioners, who will continue to challenge and encourage them.

      So thank you to the Future Generations students for the privilege of working with you, and thank you to the community members, family members, and faculty who have inspired each of our students.  A special shout out also to the Regional Academic Directors, Nawang Gurung (Nepal), Firew Kefyalew (Ethiopia), and Luke Taylor-Ide (West Virginia) for guiding and mentoring the Class of 2017 throughout the full two years. May we all continue to move forward in the work to which we are called.
Christie is committed to ensuring that higher education is relevant and accessible to all. The benefits and opportunities available through education should not be for a select few. Towards this end, she is enthusiastic about trying new models and approaches which help to increase the reach of higher education and enable greater success. Her style is that of facilitation, empowering students to take responsibility for their own learning, and becoming life-long learners. Christie has been working at Future Generations University since 2007.