Looking back on my unforgettable volunteer trip with Tandana – two years later

In 2019, Emily Piwowarski participated in a volunteer trip to Ecuador organized by The Tandana Foundation with her high school classmates from Arendell Parrott Academy. Now a sophomore studying chemistry and marine science at North Carolina State University, she took time to reflect on her memorable experience with Tandana in Ecuador.

Continue reading “Looking back on my unforgettable volunteer trip with Tandana – two years later”

Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Climbing Together

In recognition of The Tandana Foundation’s 15th anniversary, we are creating 15 videos featuring cherished members of the organization’s global family. Published in a series of 15 posts on this blog, these videos will highlight key aspects of Tandana’s philosophy, community partnerships, and impactful work that has been done, along with projects still in progress. The videos will serve as a meaningful way to reflect back on what has been accomplished in 15 years as well as provide insight into the Tandana’s future in the next 15 years. 

Continue reading “Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Climbing Together”

Moussa’s trip to the United States of America: Part 2

Last fall, two members of The Tandana Foundation’s team in Mali – Moussa Tembine and Housseyni Pamateck – visited the United States on a multifaceted, cross-country trip. While in the U.S., they co-taught a college class, met with Tandana and local community stakeholders, and attended several of the organization’s events. Along the way, they shared the work in Mali as well as the country’s culture. This is part two of Moussa’s story about their trip and what he learned from his time in the United States.

Continue reading “Moussa’s trip to the United States of America: Part 2”

A village leader explains how Tandana’s approach is different, and why that’s important

From experience, villagers around the Bandiagara District of Mali have observed how non-profit organizations conduct development work. They have seen which approaches have been successful and which have not. In the following, one young leader explains how The Tandana Foundation’s approach – based on mutual respect, partnership, and community responsibility – has been successful in empowering villagers and bringing them together.

Continue reading “A village leader explains how Tandana’s approach is different, and why that’s important”

A shared philosophy of mutual support and learning

All program coordinators dedicated to social justice and civic engagement are faced with the challenges of community engagement and community building due to the pandemic’s social distancing requirements. How do you connect with others and make substantive change in your community without being able to interact with others or physically enter into a community? My response: we must expand our definition of community.

Continue reading “A shared philosophy of mutual support and learning”

Tandana wins Nonprofit Eclipse Integrity Award for outstanding ethics in community service

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Dayton has selected The Tandana Foundation as the winner of its 2020 Nonprofit Eclipse Integrity Award, which is its highest honor for ethics, honesty, and integrity. Continue reading “Tandana wins Nonprofit Eclipse Integrity Award for outstanding ethics in community service”

Two personal stories illustrate the value of community

By committing to create and nurture intercultural relationships, Tandana recognizes the value of community as a major driving factor of our work.

In Ecuador, the stories of two members of Tandana’s staff exemplify the way in which experiencing community -whether new or familiar- provides an incomparable opportunity for growth. Continue reading “Two personal stories illustrate the value of community”

Birthdays mean special celebrations with Tandana!

No matter how people like to celebrate their birthdays, it’s always nice to be recognized on the day you were born. Since coming to The Tandana Foundation, in January 2019, I have been able to celebrate many birthdays with my coworkers, host family, and friends in Ecuador. Continue reading “Birthdays mean special celebrations with Tandana!”

Tandana’s founder receives this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award from The Wellington School

In recognition of the impact of her international service efforts and her impact on the school, Anna Taft, founder of The Tandana Foundation, was recently honored with the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award by The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio. Taft, who graduated from Wellington in 1997, was the fifth member of the school’s alumni to earn the award. Continue reading “Tandana’s founder receives this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award from The Wellington School”

Tandana’s Theory of Change based on its experience and history of positive outcomes

Many organizations use Theories of Change to map out the series of steps and interventions that lead to their long-term goals and desired social changes. Typically, a Theory of Change is based on causal linkages and informed by instrumental logic. It is often associated with the attempt to control human affairs as though we were making something. The temptation to bring the mode of fabrication, or “making,” to human affairs is perennial, because of frustration with the unpredictability, irreversibility, and anonymity of action; however, if instrumental logic controls what we do, we are obliged to accept any means to given ends, the justification of violence, the loss of meaningfulness, and inevitable failure, because the actual course of events is bound to be full of the unexpected. Continue reading “Tandana’s Theory of Change based on its experience and history of positive outcomes”

Its not work, it’s a lifestyle

I had been walking among indigenous communities and people of many different hues for some years when one day, on the slopes of the Tayta Imbabura, I crossed paths with a Yachak of the Kichwa Otavalo nationality who told me: “You have to plant seeds, wherever you step, wherever you go. You have to plant seeds. Always leave something of you wherever you go, and let others plant seeds in you wherever you go.” Continue reading “Its not work, it’s a lifestyle”

From hacienda to commune to cooperating farm families

Jose Sanchez is an indigenous farmer who grew up working in the fields of a newly formed commune and was optimistically helping organize the former share-croppers that had been liberated from huasipungo, ‘serfdom,’ in the 1960’s. He lives in Cotacachi, a town of 8,000 located a few miles from Otavalo, and with his wife maintains and manages (at a low salary) a beautiful guest house owned by an absentee landlord long resettled in Quito. His mother is still the owner of a small cornfield in the lands of the former hacienda, but it is not mechanized and doesn’t produce much crops or income. The net result of the ‘liberation’ of the sharecroppers is that they, as before the 1960’s, do all the work and yet remain quite poor. Continue reading “From hacienda to commune to cooperating farm families”

I learn to become more human while working to benefit others

My name is Veronica Pazmiño and, for around five years, I’ve been in charge of the scholarship program for The Tandana Foundation. Tandana for me is an opportunity, because I’m not just working with students, also, I’m supporting families, communities, and creating strong relationship with communities around Quichinche Parish in Ecuador. Continue reading “I learn to become more human while working to benefit others”

What I’ve learned about creating beneficial volunteer programs

Intercultural volunteer programs are an integral part of The Tandana Foundation’s work and serve our mission of supporting the achievement of community goals and addressing global inequalities through caring intercultural relationships that embody mutual respect and responsibility. In the blogosphere, on college campuses, and increasingly in the press, critics of transnational volunteering claim that such programs can be detrimental to host communities or at least less positive than they seem. Some of the criticisms are valid to the extent that they apply to some programs that are irresponsibly conceived. Others misunderstand the purpose and miss the great value of intercultural volunteer programs that are organized well. Continue reading “What I’ve learned about creating beneficial volunteer programs”

Tandana’s founder explains the importance of organizations taking a personal approach in new thesis

Creating and leading The Tandana Foundation has been a great experiment, based on commitments to certain values and on hunches about how we can work together in positive ways. Over the last thirteen years, I’ve heard a lot about what this work means to people and seen its effects in communities, and all of these experiences have helped me understand better what exactly it is that we are doing together. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had during the last year to synthesize and articulate the philosophical foundations, the experiences, and the changes that emerge when we approach collective work in a personal way. I’ve gathered these thoughts and observations in my thesis for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Skidmore College. Continue reading “Tandana’s founder explains the importance of organizations taking a personal approach in new thesis”

Reflecting on my time with Tandana, ready to tackle another great challenge

For nearly a decade, Susan Koller has been a beloved team member of The Tandana Foundation, helping to spread awareness of the organization’s mission and share stories on this blog and with the media. As Susan leaves Tandana to pursue a cause very close to her heart, she has composed this blog to reflect on her time with the organization and how its philosophies influenced her decision to pursue her next impactful endeavor. Continue reading “Reflecting on my time with Tandana, ready to tackle another great challenge”

Tandana’s global team

While the Tandana Foundation’s official headquarters is near Dayton, Ohio, its members are located around the world. From the mountains of Colorado to the highlands of Ecuador, across the Atlantic Ocean to rural plateaus of Mali, Tandana truly has a global team. Despite being separated by geography, the team is connected by a sense of purpose and commitment to carry out the foundation’s mission. Aided by Whatsapp chats, Zoom meetings, and countless email exchanges, the operations team successfully works together to support the communities it partners with in Ecuador and Mali. Read about some of its members below, including how they got involved with Tandana and what they like most about working for the organization. Continue reading “Tandana’s global team”

Caring, Respectful, Responsible Intercultural Relationships; Wisdom; Process and Goal: Part 10

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “Caring, Respectful, Responsible Intercultural Relationships; Wisdom; Process and Goal: Part 10”

Caring and Compassion: Part 9

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “Caring and Compassion: Part 9”

Respect and Responsibility: Part 8

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “Respect and Responsibility: Part 8”

Experiencing gratitude and Greater awareness of what it is to be human: Part 7

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “Experiencing gratitude and Greater awareness of what it is to be human: Part 7”

Sharing, Promise-keeping, Forgiveness: Part 6

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “Sharing, Promise-keeping, Forgiveness: Part 6”

Unpredictable Outcomes and Self-Reflection: Part 5

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “Unpredictable Outcomes and Self-Reflection: Part 5”

Live Encounters and Experiencing Difference: Part 4

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “Live Encounters and Experiencing Difference: Part 4”

Moral Obligations and Meaningful Action: Part 3

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “Moral Obligations and Meaningful Action: Part 3”

First-Person Orientation and Reaching Out: Part 2

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 
Continue reading “First-Person Orientation and Reaching Out: Part 2”

Reaching Out to Others with a Personal Approach: Part 1 – The Tandana Foundation

The development project as an attempt to bring all societies “forward,” along a supposed continuum, is unjustifiable.  And yet there is much important work to be done that looks very much like, and is even called, “development.”  Without development theory as a guiding framework, why do we do this work?  I have tried to explain the philosophical underpinnings for Tandana’s work, describing how they led to the work we do, but even more importantly, to the way in which we do this work. 

Continue reading “Reaching Out to Others with a Personal Approach: Part 1 – The Tandana Foundation”

Moving Mountains– Literally

cancha REACH playingBy Shannon Cantor

I recommend that you travel to the highlands of Ecuador, to the small city of Otavalo. From the terminal—its own chaos of moving people, cars, and shouts—take an old, blue bus parked in the third row from the right-hand side, with a sign in the window marked “Quichinche.” Get off after about 25 minutes, when you reach the last stop. Walk half an hour, straight up hill, through cow fields and a eucalyptus forest. Only then will you find yourself in the community of Agualongo de Quichinche. Continue reading “Moving Mountains– Literally”

Respect and Responsibility Bring About Positive Change

A volunteer connecting with a villager in Mali

In May 2017, The Tandana Foundation held a fundraising event. Tandana’s Founding Director, Anna Taft, spoke at the event. Below is the text of her speech. Continue reading “Respect and Responsibility Bring About Positive Change”

Founding Director Explains Tandana’s Personal Orientation

In November 2016, The Tandana Foundation held a dinner celebrating its 10th anniversary. Anna Taft, Tandana’s Founding Director, spoke at the dinner. Below is the text of her speech. Continue reading “Founding Director Explains Tandana’s Personal Orientation”

What Connects Two Worlds: Sharing Experiences and Strengthening Relationships

Shannon (in the orange hat) with host family members and a friend in Ecuador

By Shannon Cantor

“Click here to confirm your flights.” I was prompted by the small tablet screen. “Ida: Quito-Baltimore, December 19, 2016; Vuelta: Baltimore-Quito, December 26, 2016.” I had just talked to my mom, and my grandmother was sick. Her birthday is the day after Christmas, and no one knew how many more she would have. I was scared and in a hurry. I clicked “purchase.” Continue reading “What Connects Two Worlds: Sharing Experiences and Strengthening Relationships”

Celebrating 10 Years of Joining Hands and Changing Lives

On November 19, 2016, we celebrated 10 years of wonderful collaboration with communities in Ecuador and Mali with many of our friends and supporters in Columbus, Ohio.  Through these videos, you can enjoy some of the highlights of that evening.

Le 19 novembre, 2016, nous avons feté 10 ans de collaboration formidable avec des villages en Equateur et au Mali avec beaucoup de nos amis et nos partenaires a Columbus en Ohio.  A travers ces videos, vous pouvez voir quelques moments phares de cet évenement.

El 19 de noviembre del 2016, hemos festejado nuestros 10 años de colaboración con comunidades en Ecuador y en Mali con muchos amigos y donantes a Columbus en Ohio.  A travez estos videos, pueden disfrutar de algunos momentos lindos de esa ocasión.

Gathering Together and Understanding the Other

laura
Laura (second from the left) in Ecuador with her mom, her friend Claudia, and Claudia’s mom

 

By Laura Nichols

I am saddened by the recent events in Dallas, Minneapolis, Baton Rouge… These incidents are not examples of a new problem but are new manifestations of our country’s centuries-old race-based structural violence and cultural misunderstanding. We are not explicitly taught to value the Other, but are implicitly taught to be wary, suspicious, and distrusting of what is different.

When I was 16 my family hosted an exchange student from France. We were visiting my grandparents, who live in a suburb of Chicago.  As we generally did when visiting my grandparents, we spent a day wandering around downtown.  We were making our way down a row of shops on State Street and decided to go into Rainbow.  We walked in, and I immediately noticed that there were no white people in the store.  I leaned over to Anne, and my words slipped out in a whisper, “Anne, we’re the only white people in this store.” Anne is of Korean ancestry.

I cringe as I write these words, as I think of my 16 year-old, North Dakota farm girl self saying these words.  But, it illustrates both the distrust and awareness of what is different that we are implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) taught, as well as the trust and mutual understanding that comes when one knows the Other well enough that skin color disappears.  She became “white like me,” not because we are the same, not because white is somehow better, but because we have connected and white, yellow, black, blue, purple no longer matters. We understand we come from different places and different cultures, and we learn from each other.  We gain insight into what it is like to live as the Other, while realizing we will never know exactly what it is to be in another’s shoes.

Tandana means “to unite” or “to gather together,” and that is what Tandana does.  It unites by bringing people from different cultures, different races, together to have a mutual experience, develop a bond and better understand each other.  I have had the privilege of working with Anna and the Tandana Foundation since 2006 when I spent a summer in Ecuador volunteering in the Gualsaqui clinic.  There has not been another organization or person in my life that has better helped me to understand, and live alongside the Other. I wish everyone could have the same experience that I have had through Tandana because this “gathering together” is what we need in our communities, what we needed in Paris, San Bernardino, St. Louis… My hope is that Tandana lasts for many decades more for this reason: every time someone better understands the person nextdoor, across town, across the country, or across the world, we are one person closer to unity.

Por Laura Nichols

Me entristecen los sucesos acontecidos recientemente en Dallas, Minneapolis, Baton Rouge… Estos sucesos no son ejemplos de un nuevo problema sino de manifestaciones nuevas por parte de la violencia racial de muchos siglos de nuestro país y de la mala interpretación cultural. No se nos enseña expresamente a valorar al Otro; por el contrario, se nos enseña de forma implícita a ser precavido, suspicaz y desconfiado de aquello diferente.

Cuando yo tenía 16 años, mi familia acogió a una estudiante francesa de intercambio. Estábamos visitando a mis abuelos, que viven en un barrio a las afueras de Chicago. Pasamos el día dando vueltas por el centro, pues es lo que normalmente hacíamos cuando visitábamos a mis abuelos. Paseábamos por una serie de tiendas en la calle State y decidimos entrar a Rainbow.  Al entrar, inmediatamente nos dimos cuenta de que no había ninguna persona de raza blanca  en la tienda. Me incliné hacia Anne y susurrando le dije: “Anne, somos las únicas personas de raza blanca en esta tienda”. Anne es de ascendencia coreana.

Me avergüenzo al escribir estas palabras, cuando pienso en mí como una chica de 16 años de Dakota del norte criada en el campo, diciendo estas palabras. Sin embargo, esto ilustra ambas partes: la desconfianza y la percepción que se nos enseña de forma implícita (y a veces explícita) por aquello que es diferente; además de la confianza y la comprensión mutua que sentimos cuando uno conoce lo suficientemente al Otro y el color de piel desaparece.  Ella se volvió “blanca como yo”, no porque seamos iguales, ni porque ser blanca sea mejor, sino porque hemos conectado, y los colores blanco, amarillo, negro, azul o violeta ya no importan. Entendemos que venimos de sitios y culturas diferentes; y aprendemos una de la otra. Conocemos mejor como es la vida de la Otra, mientras a la vez nos damos cuenta de que nunca sabremos exactamente lo que es estar en el lugar de la otra.

Tandana significa “unir” “reunir juntos”; y esto es lo que Tandana hace. Une a la gente de diferentes culturas y razas para vivir una experiencia mutua y desarrollar un vínculo y conocernos mejor. He tenido el privilegio de trabajar con Anna y la Fundación Tandana desde el año 2006, cuando pasé un verano como voluntaria en Ecuador en la clínica Gualsaqui. No ha habido ninguna otra organización o persona en mi vida que me haya ayudado mejor a comprender y a vivir junto al Otro. Ojalá todo el mundo pudiera vivir la misma experiencia que yo he vivido a través de Tandana; porque este “reunir juntos” es lo que necesitamos en nuestras comunidades; lo que necesitamos en París, San Bernardino, San Luis… Tengo la esperanza de que Tandana dure muchas décadas más por la siguiente razón: cada vez que alguien comprende mejor a la persona vecina, ya sea en la ciudad, en el país o en el mundo, estamos más cerca de esa unidad.

 

 Traducción de Beatriz Aramendia

 

Par Laura Nichols

Je suis attristée par les évènements qui se sont produits récemment à Dallas, Mineapolis, Baton Rouge…Ces incidents ne sont pas le résultat d’un problème nouveau, au contraire ils sont des manifestations de la violence raciale que subit notre pays depuis plusieurs siècles déjà et de l’incompréhension  culturelle. On ne nous apprend pas de manière explicite à valoriser l’autre, à l’inverse on nous apprend à être méfiant, suspicieux envers toute forme de différence.

Quand j’avais 16 ans, ma famille a accueilli un étudiant correspondant français. Nous visitions mes grands-parents qui vivaient en banlieue de Chicago. A chaque visite, nous avions  l’habitude de nous balader dans la ville. Un jour, alors que nous descendions une rue remplie de boutiques, la rue State, nous avons décidé d’entrer dans l’une d’entre elles, appelée Rainbow. Nous sommes entrés et tout de suite j’ai remarqué qu’il n’y avait aucune personne de couleur blanche. Je me suis penchée vers Anne et je lui ai murmuré: “Anne, nous sommes les seuls blancs dans ce magasin”. Anne est d’ascendance coréenne.

Je grimace en écrivant ces mots et en repensant à cette fille de 16 ans, élevée dans une ferme du Dakota Nord, se disant cela. Mais cet épisode montre à la fois la méfiance et la réalisation de la différence et qui nous sont de manière implicite (et quelques fois explicite)enseignées. Mais aussi la confiance et la compréhension mutuelle qui s’installent  lorsqu’une personne connait sufisamment l’autre personne pour que la couleur de peau disparaisse.   Cette petite fille est soudainement devenue “blanche comme moi” non pas parce que nous sommes pareils, non pas parce que quelque part être blanc c’est mieux  mais parce que nous sommes liées et que par conséquent, blanc, jaune, noir, bleu ou orange, cela n’a plus d’importance. Nous comprenons que nous venons de pays différents, que nos cultures sont différentes mais nous apprenons l’une de l’autre. Nous percevons ce que c’est que de vivre comme l’autre tout en réalisant que nous ne pourrons jamais être à la place de l’autre.

Tandana signifie ”unir” ou “rassembler” et c’est précisément ce que la Fondation fait. Elle unit en rassemblant des personnes de cultures et d’origines différentes autour d’une expérience commune, pour développer des liens et mieux se comprendre. J’ai eu le privilège de travailler avec Anna et pour la Fondation Tandana en 2006 lorsque j’ai passé l’été en Equateur en tant que bénévole dans la clinique Gualsaqui . Aucune autre organisation ou personne dans ma vie ne m’a fait percevoir ce que signifiait comprendre l’autre et vivre à ses côtés. J’aimerais que tout le monde puisse vivre cette même expérience à travers la Fondation Tandana. Ce “rassemblement” c’est ce dont nous avons besoin dans nos communautés, ce dont nous avions besoin à Paris, à St Bernardino, à St Louis… J’espère que la Fondation Tandana vivra pendant encore de longues décennies tout particulièrement pour cette raison: à chaque fois qu’une personne fait l’effort  et réussi à comprendre l’autre, que nous soyons à l’autre bout de la ville, du pays ou du monde,  nous nous rapprochons encore un peu plus de cette unité.

Traduit de l’anglais par Charlotte Galland