Teaching the Neighbourhood: A Methodology Workshop in Gandiol, Senegal
30 August, 2018 at the Aminata Cultural Centre, Gandiol
About Universities are confronted with a double challenge in relation to communities. On the one hand, they seem isolated from the local communities, thus failing to connect with them in ways that make their actions visible and tangible. On the other hand, they rarely find the proper mechanism to acknowledge and valorize inventive practices in daily life. The resulting lack of cross-fertilization presents a serious gap in the ability to produce and share knowledge. In response, an interactive approach is called for to bring universities and communities together to devise alternative methods, materials and tools to build and strengthen capacities, especially aimed at heightening resiliency. Through the Humanities across Borders programme, LASPAD works through a network of universities in Africa, Asia and Europe to reduce the barriers between universities and communities. A workshop on the theme of neighbourhood was conducted as part of a program of grassroots workshops (ateliers populaires) encompassing several forms of encounters with communities: popular university, ad hoc seminars, solidarity-based innovation camps.
Methodology Following the conversational approach, 15 participants from the two partner institutions are invited to share their experiences with and reflections on the history, practices and stakes of the neighbourhood issue in relation to their social and professional lives. Over two hours, they engage with a number of questions and situations, discourses and practices that are likely to generate a set of alternative and collaborative teaching materials. A number of questions will help orient the conversation: What makes a neighbourhood? What does it mean to be neighbours? How do the nature and quality of neighbourliness impact the nature and quality of living and sharing environments? How will carefully listening to popular wisdom and moral or religious precepts help us better grasp the ethic of neighbourliness? Do we know which ways enable us to produce and reproduce attitudes, interactions, tools or discourses on this theme? Is it possible to locate places, situations and contexts that facilitate the creation of a neighbourhood? Is it possible to develop a neighbourhood-based pedagogy; that is, a way of teaching the community through suitable content? In which ways can a high-quality neighbourhood be an asset in shaping and enabling resiliency at the social, cultural and citizenship levels? How does acting on the spirit of neighbourhood and practices of neighbourliness help effect positive structural transformations in the life of a community?
Hahatay is a not-for-profit organization which engages with community development issues in Gandiol, founded by Mamadou Dia, a young man from Gandiol who once attempted illegal immigration by sea. This journey would inspire a narrative entitled 3025, referring to the number of kilometres separating Senegal from Murcia, his host city in Spain. Through his personal story, he tries to reach out to the many youth still tempted by illegal immigration. Today, through its cultural centre named Aminata, Hahatay serves as meeting point for volunteers dedicated to holistic approaches to human development. The key activities focus particularly on the preservation of the environment, the protection of early childhood through preschool care facilities, the promotion of an active cultural life at the community level, the strengthening of the place of women in society and the fight against illegal immigration. The organization also owns a modest library, a film projection room, a stage for the performing arts and a radio station.