International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) students at Provision

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May 28 - 31, 2019 Provision received a group of 10 international students majoring in Agrarian, Food, and Environmental studies (AFES) together with their professor from the ISS (International Institute of Social Studies) of the Erasmus University of Roterdam, The Netherlands. The students came from Colombia, Brazil, Rwanda, Tanzania, Indonesia, The Phillipines, Pakistan, Italy and the USA. 

AFES focuses on these main questions, which are very much in line with Provision’s work.

  • Can we feed the world and achieve economic development while conserving ecosystems and improving the livelihoods of peasants and the rural poor?
  • How do we understand and tackle the interlinked agrarian and environmental crises?
  • What types of policies create sustainable development that guarantees justice, equality and autonomy for poor and marginalized communities?


Creating “Right Livlihood”

It has taken us 10 years.

10 years ago this month we moved to Transylvania; consciously choosing to leave the professional career paths that we were trained to follow.  Lars studied veterinary medicine and I studied music and Transpersonal psychotherapy.  Lars’ career allowed him to take temporary jobs which is how we “put food on the table.”  Or, as the case may be, how we could have money to buy a table while we were building Provision into a learning center.  

In January 2019 (four years after giving up his life as a vet for good), Lars organised a fundraising event in the Netherlands.  His hope was to procure money for a new endeavour, an NGO called ALPA which stands for Access-to-land for Agroecology in Romanian (Acces la pamant pentru agroecologie) and is designed to support small-scale agroecological farming in Romania.  ALPA is also designed to function as a land trust for conservation and protection of the biodiversity that still exists here in Transylvania.  This is where he met Oana Visser.  Oana is a professor in the Netherlands who has done extensive research on Eastern European systems of land use and abuse.  Oana subsequently contacted provision to organise a 3 day program for a group of his students from the International Institute for Social Studies in the Hague who are studying Agriculture, Ecology and Food production.  

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Having welcomed groups of internationals to Provision already for a number of years, including a group of 75 people from 23 different countries during the 2016 Nyeleni Food Sovereignty gathering in Cluj organised by one of our partner organisations: EcoRuralis, as well as numerous courses for self-sufficient living skills organised by Provision, organising this 3 day course was nothing new for us.  However, there were some particular elements that made hosting this group something entirely new and exciting for us.  One was the addition of our newly renovated Group House.  The other was this particular group of students who came with their professor and showed a level of knowledge, motivation and clarity of purpose that made our work of team building quite easy…

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Lars offered a workshop on Agroecology and I offered one on Food and NonViolence.  Atilla Szocs, our neighbor and colleague in Alpa and Ecoruralis, offered a talk about peasant agriculture and land usage here in Romania.  We took them on field trips and introduced them to our teachers here in the village.  And though this group of 10 students from 8 countries were already deep in their knowledge, many of them were lacking in more “hands-on” experience which we were able to provide, along with the pleasure of having done something truly useful in terms of community service: weeding a field of potatoes or fixing a leaking roof.

Hosting this group from ISS gave Provision the chance to see how ready, willing and capable we are to supplement learning that has taken place “within 4 walls” and bring it out into life.  After 10 years of practicing and buildling, we sense that Provision has truly arrived. During these days with the students from ISS, we all had the opportunity to flex our muscles, meet new people and paradigms and, together, we all enjoyed taking great draughts of fresh air, getting our hands in the soil and drinking clear water from the mountains.

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