WWU students to embark on Cabo Verde Islands Education Abroad experience with Secondary Education Professor Karen Dade

Karen Dade
Professor of Secondary Education

On June 9, six Western students of various cultural backgrounds and academic interests will depart for the Cabo Verde Islands to join their pre-matched six University of Cape Verde student partners. Together they will become the Cabo Islands Education Abroad 10-day cultural and environmental comparative exploration cohort.

This experience has been made possible by a grant from the Office of Sustainability’s Sustainability Equity and Social Justice Fund. In addition, several other entities have made this program possible. This includes the University of Cape Verde, WWU Education Abroad Program, WWU Morse Leadership Institute, and Woodring College of Education Secondary Education Program.

With gratitude for such a unique project, our group will present findings and experiences during a few campus-wide events next academic year. Together with their cohort partners they will keep a daily Vlog of their numerous experiences. For instance, students will make visits, do community work, make US and CV comparisons, and have joint education workshops taught by myself, and our two co-host faculty members. The workshops will focus on the historical context of the Cabo Verde Islands and how it was used for forced migration for slave ship pathways to slave trade throughout the diaspora. Connections will be drawn from a pan-African viewpoint, therefore building greater respect and knowledge of the horrific chattel slave trade, and what many African descent people have in common through this ancestral holocaust.

Much of this suffering and ongoing injustices continues to impact this global majority around the world. We want our future leaders to learn how to nurture this understanding for a more real worldview of the need for greater cultural and environmental sustainability. Language, cultural studies, the arts, and many more subject areas will be introduced through an interdisciplinary approach. Student field experiences will include, but are not limited to, visiting communities to better understand water shortages, wildlife, Morabeza (the friendliness and collective lifestyles of the people). Students will also do equity comparisons and interviews regarding race, class, gender, ability, and religions. We will hike the mountainous ranges, swim in the beautiful oceans, take traditional dance classes and cooking classes to gather genuine insights of the Islands.

My goal as the writer of this grant is to address the lack of students of color, especially those of African heritage and mixtures participating in Education Abroad programs, and the need to have more Education Abroad programming on Southern Hemisphere continents. Black, mixed identified students are recognized nationally as the least to travel abroad, but they need these experiences to see how such cultures connect globally. The cohort group will be able to bring this understanding back to campus, and perhaps encourage further opportunities for others.

I began this effort to take WWU students of African descent to Cabo Verde Island Nations, and one of 54 African countries in 2020. However, due to the Covid pandemic we were not able to travel, but we were able to keep the dream alive through offering a Cabo Verde Cultural Sustainability Leadership course. I taught the course, and was able to have guest speakers, Carlos Almeida and Olavo Cardoso, who are now co-host faculty for the 2022 Education Abroad experience. The students in the course did sustainability research projects that were well attended by WWU faculty and students via the online event. Following the course, I was invited to be the featured 2021 scholar at the annual University of Cape Verde conference. I connected well with students and faculty alike and drew further interest in making the CV Education Abroad experience possible.

Much gratitude goes to the individuals such as, our co-host faculty Carlos Almeida and Olavo Cardoso, Kevin Roxas, Dorothy Watson and Miguel Gonsalves Ramirez of Secondary Education, Grace Wang and Johnathan Riopelle of The Office of Sustainability, Ryan Larsen and Krista Mantello of the Education Abroad Program, and many others.

Lastly, our participating students from both sides are super excited for this venture, as they have talked about in several of our pre-planning orientations!

Please wish us all well on this incredible journey and look for our Vlog and presentations to come.

Feel free to check out some of the related links on what we have done so far:

Sustainability Storytellers: Karen Dade

Connecting to Cabo Verde: A Q&A with WWU's Karen McLean Dade

A Dream of Dual Citizenship

Wednesday, June 8, 2022