Recent Newsletter: September 2020
LERRN update, and musings about the most poignant teachers and catalysts
Dear Friends and Supporters of LERRN,
I hope this finds you healthy, safe, and thriving in this ever changing, ever evolving, rich-with-opportunities-for-growth moment in time. I would like to offer another update on our project in Greece.
As I type, my heart is heavy with the weight of global turmoil, controversies, and feelings of isolation. I miss hugs, many of my own family members, and countless people currently in Greece who have become confidants, colleagues and friends. I feel isolated from truth, as I invariably find the most precious, accurate and compelling truths to reveal themselves in face-to-face, tender, heartfelt conversations, where more is communicated and perceived in my cellular structure than could ever be accurately shaped into words, even by the most adept and virtuous scientists and statisticians.
While LERRN continues to sponsor nine students (one less, as our first student graduated in the spring!) to continue their university education at Webster Athens, the situation in Greece, for our students and others who are “displaced” in Greece, continues to deepen in complexity, frustration and desperation. Amid stories of camps burning down, increasing waves of homelessness, camps being placed under quarantine and boiling with frustration, and treacherous journeys and incidents continuing to unfold in the Aegean Sea (I have to believe many more are attempting to cross borders on foot as well, but I have not read or seen evidence of this), I feel more determined than ever to see our students through their programs, still, frankly, not sure – increasingly questioning – if a Western education is the magic sauce that will best water and fertilize the seeds of vitality, keen vision and planetary success in the long run.
Yes, this is not exactly a professionally-written, create-urgency, tell-a-story, toot-your-own-horn, elicit-emotion, capture-their-heart-and-get-them-to-open- their-wallet-while-it-is-fresh-in-their-minds type of fundraising message. My intention is to communicate the situation as it is – as I see it. And yes, I will still invite you to contribute, if you feel moved. I also invite you to offer your insights and ideas relative to the question of “what next?”
I have to again commend the faculty of Webster Athens on their outstanding skill, sensitivity, and commitment to quality education, and sincere care for our students – for humanity. I am privileged to say that I have listened and shared in deep conversation with each of our students, and have been witness to their felt experiences, tragedies, courageous journeys, humanitarian hearts, dreams, and both injured and ideallic worldviews. I believe that this group of 10 could bestow infinite lessons and insights about the ways of the world, if in humanitarian, educational and workplace settings the practice of deep listening was regarded with utmost importance. I fear our collective business and educational models have been rigidly shaped to hold up “our” iteration of “aid,” “education,” “respect for diversity,” and “integration.” This feels quite backwards – or “exclusive” – to me (even in circles where “diversity” is held as a guiding principle), given the individual and collective turmoil, violence, and destruction we continue to propagate and attempt to navigate in the West.
Here are some details of what’s happening for LERRN students:
The students we are sponsoring continue to thrive in their coursework despite extraordinary practical challenges.
One student has taken leave this semester due to his living circumstances becoming intolerable. He needs all of his time and energy to find a home and sustainable income. We hope he will be able continue his program next semester.
Another student had to drop his graduate class a few weeks into the term due to a crisis with his residency application. All of his time and energy must go into identifying legal and practical options to secure his personal safety and security.
One student is managing to take classes online despite having to “couch surf,” with friends across Europe (he has Greek residency and therefore legal ability to travel) while he seeks sustainable living and work arrangements.
Other students continue to work part- or full-time while taking part- or full-time coursework, as determined by each of their unique set of circumstances.
Webster Athens continues to swiftly adapt to ever evolving local, global, and individual circumstances to ensure that students are able to access a high-quality educational experience in online format, until further notice.
Opportunities for sustainable work in Greece are few and far between.
LERRN will not consider sponsoring additional students until operations return to the classroom and we are confident of our ability to follow through with the programs of our current students.
Each LERRN student continues to demonstrate their passion, determination and drive to succeed and to make valuable contributions to the world. I fully stand behind each of them and I hope you will stand with me.
I feel like now is an extraordinary time to be having deep conversations about things that matter – things that are difficult to talk about, things that may need to be framed differently in order to come to productive and viable solutions. One of the most compelling questions in my mind: Can problems created in the West be solved in the ways of the “civilized” mind and machine?
In search of respite and intellectual challenge, I’ve come across a Nigerian philosopher whose articles and perspectives I find to offer valuable historical context and opportunity for renewed inquiry. I will be taking an online course with him this Fall. If you are interested to listen and engage, I would love to hear your thoughts, find out what feels important and true to you, and about your vision for a renewed and viable future.
Bayo Akomolafe: The Times Are Urgent, Let Us Slow Down. https://youtu.be/9qWaWGHNvy0
Cancel Culture and the Limits of Identity Politics with Bayo Akomolafe: https://youtu.be/3CaQ2Ggc7f0
Though I feel the boiling of the Earth’s waters and hear the guttural cries of humanity in deep and bloody crisis, my outlook is optimistic. Like in an ailing body, discomfort, pain and failure to thrive can be the most poignant teachers and catalysts. In deep listening, perhaps collective power and vitality may also be intelligently re-visioned, re-claimed, and re-sown from the grassroots.
Contact me to inquire about student sponsorship, or make a donation here: https://loveelevatesnetwork.com/donate/
With deep gratitude for your friendship, support and attention,
Jennifer Moiles, Founder