Agriculture Griots are on their way to becoming hunger experts

Anna Lemberger, an intern for ONE’s Hunger & Agriculture Griot program, writes an update on the course. This is her first post on the ONE Blog.

Griots de Sambala. Photo credit: Wikimedia
Inspired by the tradition of griots — a West African term for storytellers, history-keepers and agents of culture change — ONE, in partnership with the World Food Program and the World Food Program-USA, sent out a call; they asked anyone and everyone to add their voices to the fight against hunger by joining our Hunger & Agriculture Griot Project to become empowered, informed and active storytellers. The response was overwhelming.

Screen shot 2011-10-25 at 12.39.15 PMOne of the students created an interactive Google map for griot participants to mark their place in the world. Follow the griots on Twitter at #hungry4change.
More than 220 students answered the call. These hard-working individuals are on their way to becoming rock star advocates as they complete weekly readings, quizzes and real-life advocacy actions in our first-ever program. The course, now in its third week, includes students from 34 American states and 47 countries representing almost every region in the world, and its participants hail from a range of occupations and educational backgrounds.

As a moderator for the course, my excitement for the project grows each day as I watch our students begin to step into their griot shoes. While the various languages and time zones have been challenging, the cultural diversity and interaction have been a rewarding experience. As a result, they have been flexible and patient. The student-to-student collaboration and passionate discussion amazes me every day —and, I must admit, it takes some pressure off me and other moderators who strive to respond to every student.

We have already received inspiring feedback from students:

“[The instructors] have helped us embrace new thinking and encouraged us to see things from different angles! They have helped us meet people you are passionate about helping others and ca c’est formidable!”

“Yes, In just two weeks, I have changed, and become more of a bold advocate than I ever thought possible!”

“I am enjoying the articles and videos so much that what should take me 5 or 10 minutes is taking me much much longer as I see other links and can’t let it go by…It has been a long time since I have been this excited about a course. If the Griot team could make the information a little more boring and dry I wouldn’t get so distracted!” (Sorry Paul, not happening!)

So far, the students have been asked to write and call their Congresspersons about supporting Senate-level funding of foreign assistance accounts in the FY2012 budget, especially for programs like Feed the Future and emergency food aid. During Week Two, they began planning for their final project, an event with the goal of mobilizing others in the fight against hunger. This week, the students have been challenged with writing a blog post. Stay tuned for more great news from our Agriculture Griots!

Griot or not, you can take action in the fight against hunger today. Sign ONE’s petition to end hunger and famine for good, and take look at our Learn More page for more updates.