Georgetown students render community service in Sri Lanka
TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK
DOHA STUDENTS of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q) have returned from a 10-day Community Engagement Programme (CEP) initiative in Sri Lanka. Subsequent to a rigorous application process, the 25 students selected with academic expertise in international politics, culture & politics and international economics, combine their unique areas of focus in addressing the problems of on-the-ground development in hot disaster zones around the world.
Based on the values of service for others, which are an integral part of the education at Georgetown University, this year, the participants travelled to Colombo, where they were able to put the theories and ethics of social justice into practice, not solely for the betterment of the community, but also in the development of their own levels of specialisation.
“The Community Engagement Programme at SFSQ is intrinsic to our educational ethos. It merges academic learning with the needs of the broader community, and instills in our students a sense of the rights and responsibilities of national and global citizenship.
In the spirit of Georgetown’s values, the programme emphasises critical reflection through personal, experience-based learning and analytical writing and discussion.
Moreover, it helps students develop an understanding of the world as an interdependent system and increases global awareness and concern,” said Uday Rosario, community engagement administrator at SFSQ.
Sri Lanka, a victim of the tsunami of 2004, remains on the long path to recovery from this regionally comprehensive flash flood. Complicating and compounding the difficulties inherent in rebuilding is the recent civil war involving government authorities and the Tamil Tigers.
The opportunity to investigate similar intractable challenges involved in disaster situations is what the Community Engagement Programme aims to provide. In preparation for the biannual trip, the students attended courses in advanced disaster management organised by the Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS). Upon completion of the course requirements, they received a certificate in the techniques, adding to their official qualifications as international humanitarian actors. Given the recent impetus to address the need for qualified humanitarian actors in Qatar, SFSQ students are developing competencies which allow them to contribute to and advance the next phase of international disaster management solutions emerging from the GCC region.
Led by Prof Elizabeth Andretta, the students successfully merged their academic knowledge of disaster management theories with the practical experience of spending time in the field. Students studying international economics contributed to the analysis of post-disaster economics, including the particular problems of high capital influx in response to aid appeals, paired with frequent mismanagement and misappropriation of funds, and the subsequent neglect and obscurity into which many disaster areas fall.
Those studying culture & politics, examined the complexities of responsiveness to refugee populations, including the necessity of avoiding the repetition of racial, ethnic, and religious divisions and preferential treatment in refugee camps.