Great Lakes Consortium (GLC) for international training and development invites professionals from any region of Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to apply for participation in a 42-day fellowship in the U.S.A.. Program’s manager, dr. Elizabeth Balint, encourages submissions by activists or NGO workers who are actively involved in programs related to citizen participation and advocacy (civil society development), civic education organizations, citizen advocacy groups, community activists and community organizers who work with marginalized or rural communities.
Dr. Bozena (Boba) Markovic Baluchova (based in Bratislava; working as coordinator of Pluto NGO and DocUnion NGO; Palacky University lecturer and journalist for Media about Development) was an active part of this fellowship and was placed at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless in Chicago in Fall 2013.
The most important thing she has learnt about community organizing during her 6-week stay in the U.S. was: “To convince myself that a lot of work within community can be done without financial support – you just need to mobilize people around yourself, find your common self-interest and make a plan how to fight for our rights or particular goals. Successfully organized communities with their active leaders can wake up, shake and push power holders to the right direction. In the U.S. I’ve tried door knocking as a way of gathering people for neighborhood meeting; rally as a way to put politicians on hot chairs making them accountable and responsible for unsolved local issues; one-on-one interviews as a way to assess the needs of people in need and their self-interest.”
How she will use gained knowledge about community organizing and experience from the U.S. in her professional life? The answer is clear and simple: “As a lecturer at Palacky University I conduct trainings and supervise essays / thesis mostly about media and community work. I have conducted eld research in developed, as well as developing countries using Participatory rural appraisal methods (very similar to community organizing approach). I always see local people and community members as the assets – able to raise their voice, mobilize and cooperate on planning and implementing particular community development projects.”
Written by: DocUnion NGO, Photo: GLC