Two Rabbits Stands with Fulbright

Cultural Diplomacy. Collaborative Engagement. Scholarship.

These are the pillars of the U.S. Fulbright program, and values that Two Rabbits holds dear. The story of Two Rabbits is closely intertwined with that of the Fulbright program, in both our founding and our future outlook.

The Fulbright program provides research and teaching opportunities, allowing Americans to study and teach overseas and welcoming foreign scholars to the United States. It is a landmark program for citizen diplomacy that has been building intercultural understanding for more than 70 years.

12291302_10205283609429668_8983525547730232803_o.jpgTwo Rabbits owes its very beginnings to the Fulbright program. A year-long Fulbright research grant allowed me to immerse myself in the world of Baka children. Through hunting and gathering, exploring the forest, and long conversations with parents and children, I was exposed the threats of discrimination and deforestation that they face, and the challenges of preparing for an uncertain future. I was able to share the Baka story with the world, from the halls of Harvard to the blog you are reading now, raising awareness about the unique strengths and struggles of a people whose voices are rarely heard.

fulbright1.jpgOur Operations Director Matt Owens began his career in international education on a Fulbright grant, teaching English and Social Sciences in Spain. There he also worked together with fellow Fulbrighters and the Autonomous Community of Madrid to implement the Global Classrooms Project, a model U.N. program that promoted global citizenship and encouraged Spanish youth to envision new ways of building a more peaceful and sustainable world for everyone.

Matt and myself served as ambassadors of American culture, sharing the warmth, passion, and joy that make our country great. We are proud to bear the name “Fulbrighter” and to number ourselves among the more than 370,000 alumni of the program.

Today, the Fulbright program faces an existential threat. The administration’s most recent budget proposes a 47% funding cut to the program, gutting its ability to provide life-changing experiences to people like Matt and myself and all those whose lives have been changed for the better through a Fulbright grant.

The implications cannot be understated: without Fulbright there would be no Two Rabbits. We would have never met Buba, who taught me the strength and independence of being a child of the forest. We would have never met the father who first spoke of the struggle of “chasing two rabbits at once” – preparing his daughter for success in school and in the forest.

For all that Fulbright has done for us to raise the voices of the Baka, we are now raising our voices to save the program that launched our story. Click here to sign a petition protecting the Fulbright program, and learn about other ways that you can take action.

 

Thurgood Marshall and Two Rabbits

The recent anniversary of Brown v Board is a moment to pause and reflect on the impact that discrimination and stigma has on children. Despite the progress that has been made since 1954, systemic racism still effects the lives of young children around the world. At Two Rabbits, we measure cultural pride with methods inspired by Thurgood Marshall’s evidence in the Brown v Board case, specifically the famous doll experiment, which demonstrated the “stamp of inferiority” caused by segregation placed and internalized by black children. Below you can see one of our students taking part in a similar assessment, choosing his preferred photo from choices including Baka and non-Baka settings. Like Marshall, we hope to use this data to bring the Baka story to light, and target our efforts to provide quality preschool education and fight for social justice.

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Prizes and Periodicals!

Good afternoon fellow rabbits! Great news for the Two Rabbits Team. Earlier this year, Two Rabbits was named a finalist at the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge and had the opportunity to compete with other ventures in a pitch competition. We are proud to announce that we have won the “Crowd Favorite” Award, and along with it, a $10,000 prize that will help our team continue to bring empowering preschool education to children around the world. We are so thankful for our friends and colleagues at Harvard and the Graduate School of Education as well as our families and friends all around the world. They have been a constant source of encouragement and support and we could not have done it without them!

We are also happy to share the Two Rabbits has been featured in the Summer 2017 issue of the Harvard Ed. Magazine, a triannual periodical published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Head over to their website to read more about the Two Rabbits story or swing by Gutman Library on the Harvard Campus and pick up a physical copy!

Two Rabbits Featured on HAEd Podcast

The Two Rabbits Team was featured this week on the Harvard Alumni for Education Perspectives Podcast! Check out the link below to listen to Nell O’Donnell interview Sarah, Kara, Mary and Matt about Two Rabbits, the Innovation Lab and the Graduate School of Education!

http://www.harvardaed.org/podcast/

The Harvard Alumni for Education (HAEd) is a shared interest group that exists to connect alumni across all Harvard schools who are interested in the field of education. Founded November 2015 as part of the Harvard Alumni Association, the HAEd provides a forum for alumni to network with other professionals, discover career development opportunities, keep up-to-date with recent research, and engage in cross-sector partnerships.

Thank you @HarvardAEd and Nell!

 

Two Rabbits wins #GoBeyondGiving Challenge!

GoFundMe, the world’s largest social fundraising platform, announced today that Two Rabbits is the winner of its GoBeyondGiving Challenge, a prize of $10,000.

img_1017The Two Rabbits team is thrilled and humbled to receive the award, which recognizes our mission and the traction of our donation campaign. This contribution will enable us to conduct a feasibility test of our program in Myanmar, to carry out an in-depth assessment of our work in Cameroon, and to continue providing quality preschool education to our cohort of learners in Cameroon this year.

GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon said “we couldn’t be happier to give this well-earned donation to Two Rabbits.” He added that “Sarah and her team have shown it’s possible to help people in places as far away as Cameroon and Myanmar by harnessing the power of social fundraising. We can’t wait to see how they change the worlds of their bright young students in 2017 and beyond.”

 Launched in 2010, GoFundMe is the world’s largest social fundraising platform, with over $3 billion raised so far. With a community of more than 25 million donors, GoFundMe is changing the way the world gives.

Introducing Feature Sponsor: O’Connor Hearing

 

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Chasing Two Rabbits at Once is thrilled to introduce O’Connor Hearing, our featured sponsor for the Run the World Fun Run for Global Education! The race will be held on October 9, 2016, at Gallup Park, thanks in part to O’Connor Hearing’s generosity.

Logo 3Many local businesses that we approached about the race were curious as to why an organization that serves children on the other side of the world in Africa would do awareness-raising and fundraising in Ann Arbor. The truth is that our global communities are getting smaller and smaller. As an Ann Arborite with deep connections to the hunter-gatherer villages that Two Rabbits serves, the forests of Cameroon are as much a part of my community and home as Kerrytown, the diag, and the Hands On Museum. And I know that bringing communities together makes all of us better global citizens, and improve quality of life across both at once.

 We are thrilled to partner with O’Connor Hearing in putting on Run the World, as a sponsor who truly understands how to bridge people and communities. In the words of Tom O’Connor himself, their founding principle is “to improve individual’s lives through better hearing,” and “education is a core precept in this mission.” Both Tom and his co-founder Claudia B. Williams have an educational backgrounds in teaching, and firmly believe that the most efficient and enduring way to improve lives globally and locally is to support efforts that promote learning.

Although their service is focused locally, Tom and Claudia believe deeply in the transformative power of global education. “As a local business, we support local efforts and programs,” Claudia explains, “but also understand the critical importance of fostering education in all parts of the world.” Partnerships with change makers, both global and local, make it possible for businesses like O’Connor to reach people in need around the world. “Small steps such as supporting the Run the World Fun Run allow us to be part of a much larger effort,” says Claudia.

baka people cameroon educationFrom the perspective of Chasing Two Rabbits, I cannot emphasize how important local support is for our efforts. Just as Claudia emphasizes the opportunity for O’Connor hearing to be part of larger efforts, support from O’Connor Hearing also enables us at Two Rabbits to maximize our efforts and reach as many children as possible. We are proud of our partnership, and looking forward to Run the World with the O’Connor team!

For more information about the Run the World race and how to take part, visit www.chasingtworabbits.org.

For more information about O’Connor Hearing, visit www.oconnorhearing.com.

 

 

 

 

Give the Gift of Learning on Giving Tuesday

Today, December 1, 2015 is Giving Tuesday! Today is the day where we take a moment pause our holiday shopping and give back to the causes that mean most to us. It pairs well with Thanksgiving Day – on Thansgiving, we give thanks for the joy in our lives, and on Giving Tuesday, we take the opportunity to bring joy to others, either by volunteering, raising awareness, or donating to important causes.

At Chasing Two Rabbits at Once, we believe that every child deserves the chance to learn to read and write, and to be proud of who they are, regardless of the circumstances they were born in.  We believe that knowledge is power, and therefore education must be empowering. If you are looking for a meaningful way to give back today, then invest in the future of a child halfway around the globe.  Give her the chance to learn to read, to proudly pursue her ancestral traditions, and to learn language skills to share her story with the world. Money cannot buy world peace, but it can help us sow the seeds for a more just and peaceful future, one child at a time. baka people cameroon education

Chasing Two Rabbits at Once as an innovative education program designed especially for indigenous hunter-gatherer children in Cameroon. We create lessons, games, stories, and songs in the Baka language and style, and record them onto mp3 players. These are no iPods: they are powered entirely by a crank that kids wind by hand.  Our lessons focus on essential literacy and language skills, and build pride in the Baka culture.  Think of a Baka Sesame Street – a joyful program that makes learning fun and builds children’s self-confidence – that will allow even the hardest-to-reach children to learn to read and write.

If you are looking for a meaningful way to give back today on G​iving Tuesday, then invest in the future of a child halfway around the globe.  Give her the chance to learn to read, to be proud of her culture, and to fight back against deforestation.

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We know that education is a light that can illuminate the world. And like a candle, it can be passed from person to person without ever diminishing the giving flame, growing brighter and brighter as it spreads. But we also know that there are places in the world where education is a privilege for the lucky few.  As you get in the holiday spirit and you think about gifts for your loved ones, consider education as the ultimate gift that never stops giving. Your contribution to Chasing Two Rabbits at Once will give children an education that they will have for the rest of their lives. Visit our page at www.GoFundMe.com/ChasingTwoRabbits to find out how you can be a part of our story.

 

After the Forest: A Portrait of Indigenous Struggles

A recent video published on the website for The Guardian depicts the Baka people struggling to maintain their dignity and quality of life as their ancestral forest is stripped away at the hands of logging companies.  Interviewees describe the importance of education as a tool for preparing their children for the future, and the need for community representatives to defend the rights and interests of the Baka people.

I admire this video for its bravery in presenting the topics shown here in such a raw and candid nature.  But I would like to raise questions about the message behind this video and others like it.  While it is extremely difficult to convey complex dynamics of heritage, culture, pride, globalization, and economics behind the degradation of the forest and its impact on indigenous peoples like the Baka, often videos like this seem to oversimplify the story.  Here, the video seems to present two options.  1) The forest is doomed, and the Baka must evolve to adapt to the new status quo, and are in need of advocates to ensure that they receive their fair share of profits from extractive industry activities.  2)  The forest is doomed, and the Baka must do something to change this situation or they will find themselves lost in an unfamiliar world.

While both of these are plausible scenarios, I would like to posit that there is a different narrative that is slightly more complex, but more indicative of the perceptions of Baka communities themselves.  The forest is not yet destroyed, and neither is the Baka culture and way of life.  The Baka are not only faced with a rapidly encroaching outside world, but are as curious as anybody about what the rest of the world may have to offer.  Pursuing an understanding of the wider world and deepening cultural ties to the forest are not mutually exclusive, but actually self-reinforcing in a context where knowledge is power and strength through confidence in one’s identity is valuable currency.

I would like to invite readers to share their thoughts and ideas about this article.

Trip to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Post by Sylvie Tangu, Two Rabbits project officer.

Between the 22nd of October and the 5th of November 2013, I was part of a team that attended the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, held in Banjul, The Gambia. Prior to the session, our team, made up mostly of representatives of indigenous communities in Cameroon,first met with the Working Group of the African Commission on Indigenous Populations/Communities.

At this meeting, we submitted a report before the Working Group on the situation of indigenous peoples’ rights in Cameroon. Briefly, we exposed the discrimination faced by indigenous communities through national laws, programmes and projects which do not take their concerns and aspirations into consideration, and which do not make provision for any mechanisms to ensure their effective participation in decision making processes which affect them directly.

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54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Banjul, The Gambia.

 

During the session, our team had the opportunity to present a statement before the Commission through
 which we brought to the Commission’s attention the problems faced by indigenous peoples especially in the areas of health, education, lands and natural resources, and most especially the discrimination against indigenous women and girls. Attending the session was also a platform to network and share experiences about our various activities with like-minded individuals and potential partners. As such, through informal meetings with some members of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations as well as some organizations working on indigenous peoples’ issues, I was able to present and enlist support for the Chasing Two Rabbits at Once project.

Last but not necessarily the least, I was able to visit the exotic sights and sounds of the smiling coast of Africa.