Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Multidimensional Poverty Index

I've been thinking about the different places faculty from our department will travel in the summer months: three countries in Europe, one in Africa and one in Latin America.   By sharing these experiences, ultimately our UNO students will benefit.

Kris & Beth traveled to Norway in the September 2010 observing schools and building relationships with faculty at the University of Adger.

Phil led a group of UNO students to Norway in May 2012 and then traveled to Finland and Lithuania in August.  Phil has established connections for future research and some of his colleagues from Lithuania will be visiting UNO in October.

Our Graduate Assistant Julie Grotelueschen returned to Kisumu Kenya in June 2012 as a surprise to her former students.  She spent a month just loving on the children of Kisumu.

Jonathan and I traveled to Nicaragua in June to work with deaf children at our deaf school project.  It was amazing to see the impact on the teachers and the students to see a successful, independent deaf adult.

Kris, Beth, Mitzi and I traveled to Nicaragua in July as part of another sister university relationship.  One part of the UNO internal "Faculty Research International" grant was to introduce new faculty members to an existing project in a different country. As in previous posts, there were many lessons learned by all
All of this diversity has made me very reflective about comparisons and expectations.  Entering into another culture can be exciting, overwhelming and very educational.   There are so many thoughts and feelings running through me right now.  :-)

It is impossible to capture the full experience in pictures and videos-- the smells, the stereo sound, the varying cultural nuances----  something I'd love to do as an anthropologist.

For a more "quantitative" comparison, the closest I have come to trying to understand the diversity is the Multidimensional Poverty Index.  There are issues with accurate databases and data collections as well as differing views on how to report the data. While not perfect, it does provide a window into the complexities of these cultures much less their education systems.

The following chart explains this the best and is from which is the United Nations Development Program.
The MPI identifies overlapping deprivations at the household level across the same three dimensions as the Human Development Index: living standards, health & education.
Looking at the variation in experiences this summer:

CountryMDI/HDI rankCategory of human developmentGross national income per capitaMeanyears of schoolingExpected years of schoolingAdult literacy rate (15 years older)% living below the nation’s poverty line% living on less than $1.25/day
Norway1Very High$47,55712.617.398.5~4.5NA
USA4/6Very high$43,01712.41693.9~15NA
Lithuania40Very high$16,23410.216.188.3~18NA

This specific  information might be great for contestants on Jeopardy but I've been more reflective on how we respond.  Education must be the foundation of any change we wish to see in the world and hopefully the SPED department at UNO will be part of that change.
(Julie Delkamiller)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Palanga Lithuania

After finishing up meetings in Siauliai, my hosts Ingrida Baranauskiene (Dean of Social Welfare and Disability Studies) and Luida (Associate Professor) took me on a tour of western Lithuania coastal towns and scenic parks. We finished our day at the resort town of Palanga. It is a beautiful town on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It has an excellent thoroughfare for walking down to the peer. Perhaps a bit like the boardwalk, but cleaner and safer. Highly recommend a visit to Palanga for anyone who comes to the Baltics.

Today my hosts are taking me to a camp for children with disabilities and then I am by myself until I head home. Having a remarkable time, but starting to get homesick. Head to Riga tomorrow then fly home on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Siauliai University, Lithuania

Had a wonderful day today in Siauliai except that I lost most of my photographs via a computer error. Very disappointed to say the least.
My travel into Siauliai began with a visit to the Hill of Crosses which is a very meaningful part of Lithuanian culture. They are not certain why people began to leave crosses on the hill, but it is believe to represent lost loved ones of uprisings past. The Bolsheviks (Soviets) repeatedly tried to tear down the Hill, but the Lithuanians continued to persist. In 1993 the Pope visited the sight, gave a sermon, and placed a cross. This is a place of great pride for Siauliai and Lithuania.
This morning I did a brief presentation to the faculty and toured the facilities. Siauliai University has a new library that is very modern and includes a chessboard.
I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting a living museum and being treated to the traditional cuisine of Lithuania. The hospitality has been incredible and the faculty are very eager for collaboration. Tomorrow they are taking me on a tour of the vacation town of Palanga. Hopefully my camera will not lose the pictures this time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

University of Eastern Finland-Joensuu

After spending 12 hours on airplanes, I was happy to arrive in Joensuu Finland on Sunday evening. I was greeted by Hannu Savolainen, Vice Dean of the Philosophical Faculty, and taken to a Finnish baseball game, which is very different from American baseball, except that they use a bat, ball, and glove to score runs and get outs.
It didn't take me long to realize that Finland is a beautiful country that is characterized by lots of trees and lakes. Unlike Nebraska they are having lots of rain this summer so everything is very green and the rivers are very high.
Today we spent the morning and afternoon discussing potential collaborative topics to pursue. These discussions centered on pursuing collaborative research related to school-wide positive behavioral supports, assessing teacher attitudes towards inclusion, and our online Master's degree in special education with the concentration in behavior disorders. In addition, we discussed some of the longitudinal data sets that we may be able to collaborate on. We had a wonderful exchange of ideas and look forward to turning these discussions into action in the near future.

This evening Hannu and his wife took me to Koli National Park for a beautiful view and a wonderful dinner that included steak with bear sausage. I also had a chance to enjoy wild blueberries that you can pick and eat directly from the forest. It was a wonderful experience with a fantastic view. Erkko Sointu was able to join us on this trip and he provided great entertainment by sharing his enthusiasm for Finland and the Lapland region in the north.
Although I have only been here for a short time, I have done my best to learn as much as I can about Finnish culture. The hospitality has been wonderful and I have experienced a new form of baseball, beautiful scenery, and great food. The last thing I did today was partake in the Finnish tradition of taking a sauna in the evening. I learned that almost every home in Finland has a sauna. At the hotel, it was an entertaining experience whereby I was told that a man's measure is determined by how long he can stay in a sauna. Of course I did not last long, and the jump in the freezing pool afterwards was both terrifying and refreshing. Sorry, I did not take any pictures of the sauna :)
Tomorrow I have one more meeting and then I'm off to Lithuania.