Improving Capacity and Community Engagement Internationally
Although the Alluvial Collective’s social equity work is based in Mississippi, we view the movement to end discrimination as an international one. As such, we take care to broaden our horizons and connect with organizations from across the globe to gain perspective, inform our practice, and strengthen our work.
For the past year, April Grayson, our Director of Community and Capacity Building, has been a fellow with the Transatlantic Exchange of Civic Educators (TECE) to learn new ways of democratic engagement by using an international comparative approach to civic education. TECE is a project led by the Arbeitskreis deutscher Bildungsstätten (AdB), based in Berlin, and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University in Boston.
TECE brought together twelve participants from Germany and twelve participants from the United States to discuss ways of increasing civic engagement, evaluating social and cultural trends, engaging with history, and supporting youth and community efforts at democracy. Fellows collaborated in a variety of ways–from in-person activities to online peer-learning seminars–and were encouraged to use their expertise to find innovative solutions and to build supportive networks for furthering community engagement initiatives.
April shared, “I’ve always believed in the power of cultural exchange and stepping outside of my own comfort zone to see things in a new way. This fellowship taught me more about how other Americans view and facilitate civic education, and I gained entirely new learning about German ideas and structures for it. Being able to compare has helped me discern ways to deepen our work here in Mississippi.”
April spent two weeks in Germany and ten days between Boston and Washington, D.C. during the in-person portions of the fellowship. During that time, she attended seminars and site visits, conducted research, co-facilitated sessions, and formulated new ways of growing community.
As part of the fellowship, April wrote a scholarly article, with support from our Executive Director Vondaris Gordon, about the Alluvial Collective’s efforts at civic engagement and how its work in engaging with local history fits into an international perspective. The article, published here in German, is available here in English.
April’s working group, made up of three Americans and three Germans, focused their capstone project on youth insights about nonformal history education—that is, programming through groups like the Alluvial Collective and other organizations outside of a school setting. She explained, “We did video interviews with several young people in both countries who had participated in history-focused programs and then went on to lead similar programs or even run for public office. Their feedback was incredible and helped the entire group hear what things had been deeply impactful and what might be improved.” The series of videos is available here, and their article about the project is here (in English).
Although the fellowship formally wrapped this past summer, the TECE fellows and organizers are continuing the network through periodic meetings and collaborative programming. The Alluvial Collective is designing programs in partnership with German organizations that April met through the TECE fellowship, with the goal of hosting virtual and in-person exchanges within the next two years.