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sarah weldon

Teacher of English and Geography, British Connection International School

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Is it acceptable to 'pollute' another country's culture with external values and scientific theory?

I came to Georgia from the Uk to teach English language in public schools, but found that actually, most of my job is really about social change and bringing my western values and beliefs to the future generations of Georgian children. There are many things I love about Georgian culture, many things I hate, but how do I encourage change in the places where I as an individual want change, but keep the values that I love? Where does my job as an English teacher start and end? I have to equip children to work with foreigners in the future, which means they need a whole new set of social rules on what is acceptable outside of Georgia. I feel powerful to bring about change in such vulnerable people, but how do I know that I am not doing harm or damaging their society, where is the line? Is it even my job to educate them in this way? Is it good to shake up their beliefs and systems or am I just setting out to make them miserable in the long run?

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    Aug 22 2011: Hi Sarah,
    It is hard to be in a situation when you can see all the needs around you but don't have the resources or knowledge to effect any changes. it must be painful to see their reality and feel helpless...
    But Im guessing this is not your case, you can do many things to help those in need. The question is how much is too much and where do you draw the line...
    In my honest opinion, it is the small things that will make a real difference. I am not familiar with Georgian culture, though I'm officially very intrigued, but they are a people with their own customs and language, you would only be handing them the tools to build themselves up into the new millennium, but what they do with those tools, is unfortunately out of your control.
    Then we come into the ethical dilemma that you must face when deciding whether or not it is right to insert all this knowledge into a "vulnerable" culture with no idea of the future consequences..
    the way i see this, is like raising a child, you teach them to say a few simple words and next thing you know they are repeating all kinds of things you wish they had never heard, but it happens, and they will learn many things that you wish didn't even exist, all because you taught them their first words, now you have no control over what they are learning.
    if this makes any sense, what Im trying to say is that if you feel in your heart that you can teach them a language, feed, clothe them, and give them the tools to survive in this world that some of us have had the privilege to study and experience, then DO IT.
    Ill give you some reasons:
    - There is a need for change.
    - Education is more valuable that any amount of money
    - An educated mind is one less likely to be taken advantage of.
    - Who knows? you might discover a few great musicians/ writers/ inventors/ scientists/ architects...

    Thats just a few, I'm sure you can come up with more.
    Best of luck to you in your journey!!

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