Intercordia Annual Report 2016

published by Jessica Vorstermans

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Intercordia Canada
Letter from Intercordia's Board President
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Dear friends, 2015-16 has been a year of rebirth, discernment and renewal for Intercordia Canada, and it is with great pleasure that we offer this Annual Report to share some of this progress and celebrate our achievements with you. Founded in 2002, Intercordia Canada offers an innovative model of engaged service-learning for young Canadians. Our partnership model ensures a rigorous academic training for students, ethical and responsible service-learning with partners in the Global South, and mentorship for students through all stages of the process (including upon return home) to help students integrate academic and experiential learning. In a growing field fraught with ethical, moral and material difficulties, Intercordia is committed to doing experiential learning differently. Founded by Jean Vanier and growing out of 50 years of living community with those who are different in L’Arche, Intercordia is a unique and innovative program that speaks to the development of global citizens in a careful, mutual and compassionate way. It takes up the work of cross-cultural relationship-building as a path to a more peaceful and just world, for those in the North as well as the South. Over the past 13 years we have sent over 250 young people to serve alongside our partners overseas and many of our alumni have gone on to work in diverse fields such as: human rights law, Romero House, Christian Peace-Maker Teams, L’Arche, policy and government, teaching, and Catholic youth ministry. We are proud of our alumni, and very pleased to recognize the recent accomplishments of two of them in this report. Resuming operations after a sabbatical year has been grounded in our certainty that Intercordia has something unique and important to offer to Canadian young people and our partners in Canada and abroad. Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time reflecting on where we have come from and what is fundamental to who we are. We have also reflected on where we are going, and recognize that we need a clear understanding of success in order to guide our decision-making and growth. As a result, we developed the following commitments to: • Remain up to date with literature and aligned with best practice for international service learning • Build and maintain a small set of true partnerships • Go deep with a small number of university partners, host communities and students who want to be in       this journey together • Secure our position as the service learning partner of choice for Catholic schools • Be thought leaders in the area of engaged service learning as demonstrated by published academic work and public dialogue The foundation of our success will be to continue to nurture existing relationships and offer our core program to youth through our partnerships with Canadian universities. We will also need to expand our relationships with individuals and institutions who share our values, and from which each party can be enriched. We are excited to explore how this may lead us beyond our traditional circles by sharing our experience through workshops with volunteer and service learning organizations, expanded youth leadership opportunities and published work. As we emerge from uncertain times and towards a brighter future, I must acknowledge that we would not be where we are without the generosity, support and commitment of our Board, Co-Executive Directors, Jessica and Katie, and university partner, St. Thomas More College. We are grateful as well to all of our host partners, donors, alumni, past board members and others who have been involved in building Intercordia Canada and who continue to support our work in a variety of ways, most importantly by keeping the mission of Intercordia alive in your own hearts and lives.   We look forward to continuing to learn and grow together. In Peace, Lauren Nagler Chair Intercordia Canada Board of Directors
We are grateful for the generous support of Scarboro Foreign Missions, the Sister's of St Joseph's in Canada, St Thomas More College, and the individual donors who support us and give us life!
Hey alums!
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we want your bio!
2016 highlights & happenings!
Thank you to our donors and supporters
Documentary about our placement in Ghana!
Thanks to the talented Ryan Haines for this project. Learn more about our placement in Sega, Ghana!
Thank you to the dedicated board members and staff through a period of transition and revisioning! Special thank you to Dr. Darrell McLaughlin who will be finishing his term on the board of Intercordia Canada and retiring from St Thomas More College. Intercordia has benefited immensely from Darrell's time, dedication and passion!
click on the video to watch!
We are collecting Alumni bios for our website! Check them out: We will email you soon to ask you for yours!
CAFE: Canadian Amigos of the Federation
Intercordia alumni who lived in the Dominican Republic have started a solidarity organization!
Intercordia alum Ashley Rerrie was named OCIC Global Changemaker Youth Ambassador in 2016!
Canadian Amigos of the Federation (CAFE) is a group of Canadian university students committed to supporting the efforts of peasant farmers in the mountainous region of Bonao, Dominican Republic. The mission statement of CAFE: "To stand in solidarity with the campesino people of the Dominican Republic and La Federación de Campesinos Hacía el Progreso, to support them in their goals, projects, and vision of empowering their communities on their own terms."
Intercordians experienced first-hand the tangible benefits that Federation projects offered to local communities, and were inspired to form their own organization upon returning to Canada. CAFE members seek to raise awareness of the challenges facing Dominican farmers and provide financial assistance for FCHP projects through fundraising initiatives. In 2016 members of CAFE worked with St Thomas More College and Intercordia to sponsor visas for two Federacion members to come to Canada to share their experiences and mission.
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"Ashley acknowledges that much of the frustration and many of the obstacles in social justice stem from the vast and complex nature of global capitalism. “All of the work [occurs within] the context of… systems that can prevent transformative change,” she explains, going on to describe how these systems are “tied into a number of problems like poverty, climate change, and even gender inequality.” Although working with individual families or even communities can be fruitful, Ashley asserts that a concerted and global effort is needed to achieve permanent change." Read more here:
Ashley was a participant in Intercordia, she lived in Nicaragua. Ashley has now moved to Nicaragua and is the Country Director for Casa Pueblito, a Canadian NGO working in solidarity with Nicaraguan NGOs! Their mission is: "Compassion and social justice across borders."
Intercordians with Tita, the President of the Federacion de Campesinos Hacia el Progreso
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2016 highlights & happenings!
click on the video to watch!
Reflection from a Kristen, participant just returned from a 6-month placement in the Dominican Republic
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"I believe my presence affects people here in different ways. If I stay as the projection of myself, or the 'mirage', people can put all kinds of things onto me. I could be the opportunity they don't have, the perfect romantic partner, the intruder that disrupts day to day life, or even just the random stranger who will probably be gone soon. However, I have started to notice a shift in this. As I'm here longer, the relationships I have with people gain more substance. With time is the possibility that people can see who I actually am. And likewise, I can understand people as people, not solely as a huge squash of Dominican culture. As I connect with people it doesn't have to be what 'the Canadian' says but can be what 'Kristen' says. While also, people here all have different opinions, personalities, lives. This is obvious, but somehow I think it always takes a while for people of different cultures/languages to actually understand this about each other. If my presence is at times a sort of window that people can see me through, or see my culture through, then the more I share myself and people share themselves with me, the clearer I am and the more of me there is here in the Dominican. I know that I am the one with the option to be here or not and that changes my relationship to people because they do not have the same option to come live in my culture. (generally) However, I don't see my presence here as a negative thing. I know that I am also giving and sharing a large part of myself. I am far from my family, and a lot of what I have come to understand as a sister, daughter, student, friend ect. is being re-wired here and feels more unstable. I'm putting a lot of energy and myself into being present. I think the whole reason I am here and why I can stay here has always been the possibility of growth. Growth in myself but also in relationships with people here. For me to see people as who they are and for people to see me as me." "To open up to others implies...the presence of a light, a love, and an energy that will give us the desire to move forwards to openness." -Jean Vanier. Becoming Human
Kristen was a participant in the Dominican Republic. She made a six month commitment to live and work with the Campesinos Hacia el Progreso. Kristen completed her undergraduate degree at King's University College and enrolled in Intercordia in September 2016. This is the first time we have enrolled a participant outside of the traditional summer months, and for longer than 3 months! It has been a beautiful experience for Kristen, her host family and the Federacion for for Intercordia! Our host partner organizations and the families who host Intercordians consistently ask us to send students for longer periods! 6 months! A year! So it is a gift to have Kristen make a longer commitment. We are looking forward to opening our model to more graduates, offering them an Intercordia experience after their undergraduate studies.
Kristen  with her host sister Marieli
2016 highlights & happenings!
Introducing our mentor coordinator: Hannah!
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Hello friends, Through Intercordia I have been invited to learn about myself by living, working and being with others. For me, this is the beauty of Intercordia. Intercordia provides opportunities for young people to become more thoughtful and critically aware of themselves, others and the world through the building of meaningful connections with marginalized people. It is in these relationships that we are challenged to recognize our own limits and the gift of simply being with people in places of struggle and suffering as well as joy and community. Being welcomed to Intercordia as the new Mentor Coordinator has been such an incredible privilege and joy. I have been involved in Intercordia since 2010 when I was a participant in Ghana. That initial experience turned my world upside down and has continued to shape my life’s path ever since. After returning to Canada, I continued to feel a pull both to return to Ghana and remain connected to Intercordia. In 2012, I returned to Ghana as a Mentor and then again said “yes” to mentorship in 2013 and 2014. Finally, I traveled to Ghana in 2015, not with Intercordia but as a researcher for my master’s thesis. Through these experiences I have built long-lasting relationships not only with those who I lived and worked with but also with Intercordia as an organization and the folks on the ground in Canada who were supporting me as I supported others. The mentorship program has shaped me as much as (if not more than) my experience as a participant. I learned, with invaluable support from Katie and Joe, how to guide and support others through their journeys of personal growth, critical reflection, and building relationships with people so different from themselves. Through this process I have learned deeply what it means to be confronted with one’s privilege and, with support or mentorship, the long-lasting effect this kind of learning can have for how someone chooses to live in the world. The presence of mentors is such a special and valuable part of the Intercordia experience. It is often what enables experience to turn into learning and struggle to shift into growth. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help shape and develop it using all that I have learned through my experiences as a participant, mentor, and campus representative. Peace, Hannah
Hannah, Danielle, Dylan, Godwin, Lindsay, Bryce and a friend outside the Anmchara school in Sega
2016 highlights & happenings!
What is happening in 2017
Gisenye, Rwanda
Intercordia Canada has partnered with the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program and has welcomed six scholars to join the Intercordia program at the University of St Michael's College. They will live and work with our partner in Gisenye, Rwanda: the Ubumwe Centre. Zacharie, Director of Ubumwe shared his excitement about this partnership: "Two years ago, we received 6 volunteers from Intercordia. It  has been our pleasure to have all of the 6 volunteers in our community and at our Centre. It was a great experience for both sides; families who hosted them and the volunteers. For the families, it was their first time to host someone from the Western world and for the volunteers it was their first time to live with a family of different culture, of different language. For the Centre, volunteers helped in most of our programs, some have helped as English teachers in our Primary school,  and others helped in our disability programs in areas like sports and music." Ubumwe Center is excited to welcome 6 more Intercordians this summer!
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Rio Blanco, Dominican Republic
Intercordia has partnered with the Federacion de Campesinos Hacia el Progreso since 2014. Every year we send 6 Intercordians to live and work with campesinos families who live in the mountains of Rio Blanco. The Federacion was born of the struggle waged by hundreds of campesinos in the area. In the early 1990s, families were faced with the construction of the White River Dam, and an attempt to exploit a gold mine in El Higo. Both projects posed serious environmental threats to the farmland on which campesinos so heavily relied. On top of these challenges, during this time, they  were trying to recover from the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane David. With a spirit of determination and resistance, the campesinos formed the Federacion, an incredible organization that continues to achieve meaningful development for its members in participatory and innovative ways. In 2016 The President of the Dominican Republic visited the Federacion and committed to funding a large reforestation project.  Work on the project begins this year and Intercordians will work alongside Federacion members in this vital work.
Our 2017 program
This summer participants from St Thomas More College and the University of St Michael's College are living and working with host partners in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Rwanda and L'Arche Cape Breton, Nova Scotia!
Looking ahead
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Dominican Republic
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia!
Welcome to our newest campus rep at St Thomas More in Saskatoon! We are excited to welcome Krista! Krista lives in Rosthern, SK along with her husband David and puppy Lucy! She loves travelling, yoga, mentorship, and cooking for my family and friends. When she is not doing these things, she is a pastor at Wildwood Mennonite Church, serves at the Station Arts Tea Room, and coordinates L'Arche Saskatoon's Collective Kitchen. She graduated from Canadian Mennonite University with a Bachelor of Arts  in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies and Biblical and Theological Studies. Krista feels her best when she is engaged and supported by intentional communities and is excited to foster this ethos within the Intercordia program.
Part of our revisioning process included naming where we want to grow and move into. Here are the places we want to remain committed to and move forward in: - Leaders in the area of engaged service learning scholarship as demonstrated by published academic work, workshops, and public dialogue; - Going deep with a  small set of mutual and committed partners (including Universities and community placements) that believe in our vision; - Consolidate our position as the service learning partner of choice for Catholic universities; - Maintain intimate, community, personal relationships; - Ongoing dialogue with international partners on how we are doing, impacts on them/families to inform programming; - Remain committed to our core values, with the ability to respond to the changing environment as necessary.
Financials: 2015/2016
2015/2016 was a year of revisioning and a programming with a smaller number of students. The organization is collaboratively led by Katie MacDonald and Jessica Vorstermans who have been engaged in a process to imagine and build the future of Intercordia. Our current funding model is designed to make the program financially accessible to all students. We operate in simple and nimble ways, in solidarity with our partners in the Global South. Lastly: We are currently looking for a physical home for Intercordia! We are interested in a collaborative space, if you have any ideas or connections, please let us know!
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Registered Canadian Charity Number: 83354 7870 RR0001
Operating budget 2015/2016: $90'825.00