Redefining Education

What do you think of when you hear the word education?  A few ideas that come to mind are college, mundane lectures, and a considerable amount of homework.  Growing up, I was given the opportunity to attend school from an early age and later attend college.  While this privilege was an important part of my personal growth, there are various components that built upon it.  But what if you tried to look at education differently?  What if you looked at the broader view and tried to understand the idea behind teaching so that others may learn.  Education is more than a teacher and classroom filled with students; it is an opportunity to expand one’s growth in all ways.

Throughout history, we have been taught traditions and customs of cultures from across the world.  What we have learned has not always been academic, but these skills have built our society today.  From learning to cook to starting a new business, education has allowed our society to grow and become stronger.  Yet while some countries have flourished in building strong communities and societies, there are still parts of the world that lack the skills necessary for building a sustainable community.  These areas are less educated in the necessary skills to grow, which result in undeveloped areas, struggling to survive.  Without education, these areas will remain in the same situation for years to come.  The education needed to succeed is not a high school diploma or master’s degree; it is the knowledge of how to support one’s family and earn a living.  Through this idea of education, communities can grow stronger.

As a college student, I live the daily routine of going to class, studying for hours and going out with friends.  I sometimes get caught up in my own world and forget about the real problems all around me.  This semester I decided to take part in a mission trip and visited Auxier, Kentucky to work with Hand in Hand Ministries.  This organization focuses on educating members of the community in computers, sewing, healthy cooking, as well as hosting a food pantry, helping with home repairs, and providing youth summer camps.  Although most volunteers dedicate their time to helping with home repairs, Hand in Hand Ministries is more than a “Habitat for Humanity” model.  By working directly with families, Hand in Hand Ministries builds relationships to grow a stronger community.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Auxier, Kentucky has a population of 669.  The area is high in poverty and unemployment rates, which has resulted in some people falling into depression, alcoholism, or drug addiction.  Through education, the organization provides new opportunities to help strengthen the community move past their problems.  The computer classes are taught with the incentive that when one completes the course, they will receive a free refurbished computer.  Not only will the community learn the basics of using a computer, but they can also continue to practice their skills in the comfort of their home.  As technology continues to expand, learning these skills is important for the growth of the community.  Aside from the computer classes, sewing classes are also taught to encourage creativity and allow freedom of expression.  Because crafts are popular in the local area, several members of the community try to sell their items to help bring in extra income.  While working with the organization, I saw the volunteers’ passion to improve the community within Auxier.  After meeting with families in the local area, I could also see the potential of the local community.  Hand in Hand Ministries has been a wonderful help to the community, but continues to follow their motto “not give a hand out, but a hand up!”

This idea of education is not always recognized, however it still remains important when growing a strong community.  As an intern at Profugo, I have seen the community grow through the bags sewn by local women in Wayanad, India.  Through education, these women were taught the basics of tailoring, business skills, and were empowered to bring in a new source of income for their families.  Before now, the women remained at home with their children, without the tools to engage in the job market.  This education has now influenced the women to grow as leaders in their community.  The English Language School has also helped the children and adults in the community communicate better with the world beyond their village, not to mention build their sense of accomplishment and confidence.  Profugo’s commitment to Wayanad has allowed the community to develop significantly and will continue through redefining education.

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