LEAD Asia fosters cooperation for effective community development

(December 2013) Practitioners involved in education and community development recently gathered in Bangkok for a week of discussion and collaboration. The sixty-three participants who joined in the LEAD Asia* Community of Practice (CoP) work in fifteen different country contexts and represent a range of local and international organizations. This gathering, the latest in an ongoing series of CoP events, was focused on the importance of building organizational relationships—working together to accomplish common goals. The meeting also provided the first opportunity for LEAD Asia staff to introduce a new resource.

The book Signposts to Identity-Based Community Development was published with funding from the Toyota Foundation. Based on insights gained through several years of CoP discussions, this guide for education and development practitioners explores the following core values:

  • The need to deal with the complexity of cultural change in an increasingly globalized world
  • The importance of people’s identity and the need to address the concept of marred identity
  • The need to start with what people in the community know and do, and to build appreciatively from there
  • The need to help communities make new choices as a result of new opportunities and new threats
  • The need to build capacity for working across cultural boundaries
  • The need for practitioners to be better learners, to proactively implement changes in methods based on new information
  • The need for practitioners to have greater awareness about the importance of the environment and a sense of place for ethnolinguistic communities



Event coordinator Matt Wisbey reported that the group had a very profitable time and enthusiastically explored many issues, including the impact of cooperation between organizations, the successes and challenges that participants have encountered as a result of cooperation, and examples of good practice. As participants interacted in small groups, they exchanged insights gained through working with communities with varying needs and access to resources.

For each CoP meeting, the facilitators’ goal is for participants to return to their work encouraged, equipped and prepared to continue discussing the topics with colleagues and friends. It is also hoped that through the CoP, participants will be better placed to build relationships that effectively support the communities they work with. The LEAD Asia team supports participants’ continued interaction and learning through online discussions and providing services such as project planning, organizational development and technical consultation.

Because the November CoP meeting directly followed the 4th International Conference on Language and Education, participants were able to benefit from both opportunities. The co-occurrence of the two events prompted some participants to join the LEAD CoP for the first time.

Education and development practitioners who wish to learn more about LEAD or participate in future Community of Practice events are invited to visit leadimpact.org.

*LEAD Asia is a unit of SIL International that supports organizations working with minority ethnolinguistic communities throughout Asia.

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