For the beginning of this week I have joined a group in Lupeni Romania for IMPACT training. This group includes students from Northwestern’s Romania Study Abroad (http://intranet.nwciowa.edu/announcements/romania.aspx), staff members and the director of Coldwater Foundation for Leadership and Community Development (http://www.coldwaterfoundation.org/), and a few New Horizon Foundation staff members (Fundatia Noi Orizonturi; http://www.new-horizons.ro/). I am learning with them about IMPACT and how to facilitate IMPACT groups.
For those of you new to the blog or who don’t remember my post titled The Project (https://romanianreflections.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/the-project/)…
IMPACT is the name of the youth development model used by New Horizons Foundation as a means of sustainable development. The idea is to help high school/middle school aged students to develop the tools to become effective problem solvers of the issues they see in their local community. The students meet in groups of 10-20 throughout the school year, and a few times in the summer. Through experiential education and team building activities they learn about and practice community. Within their meetings they read moral narratives to learn from the wisdom and experience of others. They also engage in action to better their communities through service-learning projects. These projects not only address the needs of the community but also help the students develop capacities, knowledge, and values that will assist them in the future and allow them to have a positive impact on their communities.
As part of my work as a Fulbright Scholar I’ll be working with this organization on designing and implementing an assessment plan. The IMPACT training is a first step in understanding the model so that I can move forward with figuring out how to assess it. My work in Romania has begun.