We Can All Affect Change

Chora Connection interviewed Bjarne Gantzel Pedersen, who taught in week six of the education program S.E.E.S at Avnstrup asylum center.
What has been the focus of your classes?

On the first day, we started by considering positive changes in our lives. I challenged all participants to tell a story from their life about positive change.

After that I talked about the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals towards 2030. Some of the participants thought these were very ambitious. For example, one goal is about peace and justice, which many of the participants found unrealistic, as they are from places with many years of war. On the other hand, there was a young mother who never had an education, and she really wanted to work towards a proper education for kids, which is another of the global goals.

The last exercise centred around how we ourselves can create a positive change towards 2030 and contribute to reaching the 17 goals. I asked the participants to imagine themselves in 2030 and think about how they can use the things they have learned in the last six weeks; what they found most interesting and what was realistic for them to work with in the future. With this exercise, I tried to connect everything that the participants had learned. This worked out really well, and several participants actually opened up and started to realise how they could use the global goals as part of their personal vision for the future.

What was your most important experience from teaching this?

That would have to be confirming that we as people have some very beautiful individual resources. Sometimes they have to be facilitated. Sometimes you have to be motivated to express your personal resources, your interests and how you want to contribute. The participants are in an unresolved situation and therefore I tried to situate the things I taught in a global context, no matter where we live: what do we find interesting to work with, and how can that provide value to ourselves and others?

I feel great humility towards the participants. I don’t know their background in any detail, of course, but their curiosity and openness towards the things we as educators bring in regards to sustainability, that is very inspiring. I wish we had more time, because we hear from the participants how they have a lot of experience, and they bring many things with them, that we in Denmark can learn from. I really hope we can create something where the learning goes both ways.

What do you hope that the participants take away from your teaching?

I hope that they have gained faith in the fact, that they themselves can participate positively in the change the world needs. All of humanity is in a transformative period. Some countries need to be lifted up, while others need to reduce their waste and emissions. What I hope they take away, is an understanding of the global context, that leads to local action. How they themselves can be part of a positive change. Maybe even be an inspiring role model for others.

My hope is that they maintain or gain the belief that they can do something. Many of them arrive here from a very hopeless situation, where they have felt that they had no chance to affect anything. I hope they have gained some tools to consciously work towards being in the place they land, and build something there, something that makes sense. That is my wish.

You are the only educator that has been here for both the first and last day of the course. What change do you see in the group?

It is my impression that the participants have moved a lot; both in relation to their individual learning and in the unity between them. They have tried working in groups, they have all stood in front of a crowd and presented things. That was a goal in my teaching. I wanted them all to tell what each of them, individually, would work with towards 2030. One of the Sustainable Development Goals is more equality between sexes. I am very happy to see that everyone had a chance to talk, and speak their mind.

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