I recently was chosen as one of a few young scholars to participate in an Early Career Symposium, funded by an NSF grant (thanks to the vision of Dr. Chandra Orrill, University of Georgia), that gave me some great insights into designing a meaningful research agenda as well as strategies for securing grants to fund it. I imagine a lot of it will apply to the ICT4D Consortium, as well as my interest in intercultural collaboration and innovation.
There was too much good content to capture it all here – but I was impressed simply by the mentors, their candid insights and suggestions, their ideas for ensuring your research and work makes a meaningful difference, and also by how doable it is to secure large grants for quality research. I am in the process of interviewing key people from several large grant awarding organizations and feel like I am getting a much better idea for how to increase the likelihood of a proposal being funded.
Following this symposium I also attended a membership meeting for the International Division of AECT and again was impressed by the quality of people there, and by how doable it is to receive awards like the Fullbright fellowship. After the symposium I was also able to meet with the CIO of the NSF and enjoyed discussing some of what the future of education and technology in education might hold. He invited me to visit with him more next time I am in Washington D.C., and I guess that provides me another reason for a visit there.
Quite often there is money or awards that are left on the table and unused simply because no one has submitted a quality application (or in some cases no one has submitted an application at all).
Even when there are a lot of applications submitted, there is always room to fund the best ones – so why not make one of them yours?
In the last 6 months I have been to almost a dozen countries presenting at conferences or attending valuable workshops. One of the most interesting presentations I was asked by Fred and Marilyn Matis to give was at a meeting (called a “fireside”) that is for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who either struggle with same-sex attraction or have friends/family that do.
In previous blog entries I talked a little about what it was like growing up a Mormon, and later answered some questions in a blog entry on what do Mormons believe, and so this whole topic is one that is interesting and important to me.
At the Matis event, I was asked to speak for about an hour on a a fun topic – some of life’s greatest lessons that I learned from a friend and mentor, a retired Air Force fighter pilot – who was an inspiring example of how God can definitely work with and through people that are imperfect (which always gives hope to me).
I know that homosexuality in the context of Christianity is a sensitive topic, and there is a lot of tension and misunderstanding on all sides of the issue. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here are some things I have learned:
• I am convinced that in most instances, same-sex attraction is not a choice. In our society, why would anyone choose it?
• As the Matis’ point out – instead of worrying about a “cause” or “cure” – both of which we might never find – we should focus more energy on “care”. How can we learn to care more about people around us regardless of how they are different from us? And not just caring about them but also learning from them – because quite often they are inspiring!
• Most of these individuals are not a threat to anyone – but have actually spent a good portion of their lives beating themselves up about something they did not choose, wishing they were different, and trying to hide it from others. In trying to hide anything, it seems to magnify it out of proportion. When any of us begins to focus on some thing(s) that we don’t like about ourselves, we often miss seeing how much good there is in who we are.
• The way our society, media, etc… deals with matters of sex and sexuality are usually based more on image, indulgence, anxiousness, lust, fear, and unrealizable expectations instead of on principles of real love, thinking of others more than ourselves, and respect. This makes it difficult to understand or discuss these matters.
• When there is a judgmental culture, it influences people to hide anything about themselves which others might potentially look down on. That often limits their ability to feel truly accepted and loved/lovable.
• This does not mean that “anything goes and is equally OK” – or that we can have no basis for choosing personal standards because that might mean that it seems we are also placing a judgment on others. Just letting anyone do whatever they feel like never has led people to be more more wise or happy. Rather, it means that we do always seek and strive for those things which really do unlock the greatest potential in ourselves, others, and society as a whole – while at the same time having more patience and compassion for others (and ourselves) in the process.
• At our core, what we all want more than anything (regardless of who we are) is to be loved and accepted. One great thing about these meetings is that it allows people to be honest about themselves (in some cases for the first time), to recognize they are not alone, and especially to realize that there is nothing about who they are that needs to keep them from being truly loved and accepted (especially things which were not a choice). We all have our own difficulties and differences (whatever they may be), yet innately want to be close to God and others.
Those are some of the things I have been learning, as I am trying to make sense of homosexuality in light of Christianity.
Do you agree/disagree on any of these points?
Does anyone have anything additional to add?
What an interesting time we live in, huh?
So much is being written and said about the recent elections, but in particular I have been fascinated by international reactions to the whole election.
Here are some clips from an article in the New York Times:
“From far away, this is how it looks: There is a country out there where tens of millions of white Christians, voting freely, select as their leader a black man of modest origin, the son of a Muslim. There is a place on Earth — call it America — where such a thing happens.”
“Tristram Hunt, a British historian, put it this way: Mr. Obama ‘brings the narrative that everyone wants to return to — that America is the land of extraordinary opportunity and possibility, where miracles happen.’
But wonder is almost overwhelmed by relief. Mr. Obama’s election offers most non-Americans a sense that the imperial power capable of doing such good and such harm — a country that, they complain, preached justice but tortured its captives, launched a disastrous war in Iraq, turned its back on the environment and greedily dragged the world into economic chaos — saw the errors of its ways over the past eight years and shifted course.”
“Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at the People’s University of China, said Mr. Obama’s background, particularly his upbringing in Indonesia, made him suited to understanding the problems facing the world’s poorer nations.
He and others say they hope the next American president will see their place more firmly within the community of nations, engaging in what Jairam Ramesh, junior commerce minister in the Indian government, called “genuine multilateralism and not in muscular unilateralism.”
Assuming Mr. Obama does play by international rules more fully, as he has promised, can his government live up to all the expectations?”
“We have so many hopes and wishes that he will never be able to fulfill them,” said Susanne Grieshaber, 40, an art adviser in Berlin who was one of 200,000 Germans to attend a speech by Mr. Obama there in July. … But she is sober. “I’m preparing myself for the fact that peace and happiness are not going to suddenly break out,” she said.
“So foreigners are watching closely, hoping that despite what they consider the hypocrisies and inconsistencies, the nation they once imagined would stand as a model for the future will, with greater sensitivity and less force, help solve the world’s problems.
There is a risk, however, to all the extraordinary international attention paid to this most international of American politicians: Mr. Obama’s focus will almost certainly be on the reeling domestic economy, housing and health care. Will he be able even to lift his head and gaze abroad to all those with such high expectations?”
What do you think, Is change coming?
If so, what kind?
I was able to meet briefly with the current ambassador from Uganda last week following a presentation I attended where he spoke.
The instant I mentioned the work we were doing in ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development) he perked up and showed keen interest, saying ICT was one of his highest priorities.
As we talked, it was fun to tell him about the University of Joensuu and the work being done there, including the work being done in Uganda, the scholarship opportunities open for Ugandans, and the things we are learning from the people and experiences there.
He invited me to come and visit with him next time I am in Washington D.C.
As I’ve been trying to clarify some of my life goals, I keep thinking about previous blog entries and wondering how things might lead me back to Uganda?