World Learning Participates in Special Showing of “Tribes” and Hosts Disabilities Discussion

Thanks to trustee Leonade Jones,  World Learning fielded a delegation of more than 30 to attend the play “Tribes” showing in Washington, DC — a moving and powerful portrayal of the culture of deafness.

Jones donated the play tickets so that World Learning staff and friends of the organization would have a chance to take an in-depth look at important issues surrounding disability and inclusion. She serves as a board member for World Learning, as well as Studio Theatre, and began her relationship with World Learning as an Experimenter to Denmark in 1969.

The show was followed by a discussion, open to the entire audience, moderated by President and CEO Donald Steinberg with panelists Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, coordinator for Disability and Inclusive Development at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); David Morrissey, executive director of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD); and Amy Reid, World Learning program officer a member of the steering committee for World Learning's Disability Working Group.

Steinberg began by acknowledging the emotional depth of the play and noted that the issues and challenges related to deafness in the play are similar to those faced by almost all individuals with a disability. He then discussed World Learning’s work to encourage development, peace and prosperity around the world, which includes important outreach to marginalized populations, including the disabilities community writ large. He explained that the organization is working to weave disabilities rights into all of its programming.

“World Learning itself has prioritized programs in disability rights and inclusion, we’ve integrated these considerations into all our other programs, we’ve committed ourselves to be a public advocate for disability inclusion, and we seek to walk the walk in-house,” said Steinberg before turning the microphone over to the panelists.

McClain-Nhlapo discussed USAID’s efforts to ensure people with disabilities are included in its mainstream programming, noting that including marginalized groups, such as persons with disabilities, in development can have many wider benefits for society as a whole

“We know from research and the work that we do that inclusive societies tend to be more democratic societies,” she said.

Next Morrissey explained USICD's work advocating for disability inclusion, including the organization’s campaign to compel the U.S. Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He said USICD works with many types of organizations in order to achieve its goals.

“We realize that if we’re going to make real change, we have to have all of our counterparts at the table — civil society actors and corporate partners,” said Morrissey.

Finally Reid, discussed the efforts of World Learning's working group to support disability inclusion and mainstream disabilities issues at the organization. The group organized a staff workshop in December and was involved in organizing the delegation to the play and panel.

“I see tonight as one of those extensions of ways that we’re bringing our staff together and the community for an experience and even a reflection,” she said. “I think that’s part of what World Learning does. Our focus and programs are on experiential learning, and tonight has been one of those opportunities for me, so thank you.”

Posted by: on March 19, 2014