“Seeing for yourself” can be a compelling motivator. It’s one of the reasons Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) offers learning tours several times a year.
With projects in more than 50 countries in the areas of relief, development and peacebuilding, the scope of MCC’s work is vast and complex. Learning tours are a tangible way to engage with MCC’s work, often resulting in transformation for the participants.
“The tour was a bit of a shock to the system but in a good way,” says Paul Langel of his experience on an MCC learning tour. “It widens our horizons to other realities.”
Paul and his wife Tabitha travelled to Ethiopia from their home in Winnipeg as part of a learning tour in 2017. The tour highlighted MCC’s education projects with partners in the area.
“The quiet pride in nearly all Ethiopians we met was incredible and has stayed with me,” he says.
For Adelia Neufeld Wiens, who attended an MCC learning tour to India, a highlight of her tour was meeting the MCC workers in the Indian capital, Kolkata (Calcutta).
“The staff hosted us for several days, taking the time to show us around, visit with us, and take us to visit their projects,” she says. “We not only got to see the work of MCC, but also meet the people who work so hard at creating meaningful and impactful projects.”
MCC plans the tours in consultation with local partner organizations. There’s an intentional focus on interaction with local people and learning more about the work together.
The tour generated new perspectives to consider for Neufeld Wiens. “The learning tour opened my eyes to the complexities of ‘doing good,’ ” she says. “It also made me aware of the interconnectedness of our lives. I watch the news and look at what I purchase with different eyes.”
Neufeld Wiens and her husband, Werner Wiens, the former leader of MCC’s education projects support program in Canada, both grew up in households involved with MCC. “When the opportunity came up where we could actually see some of the MCC projects in India, I was keen to join in,” she says. “I would say, ‘Go if you can!’ It is an incredible experience.”
For more information about MCC learning tours, visit mcccanada.ca/events.