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Reflections on events at The Global Centre

Global Centre News

Thursday, 20 April 2017

World At Lunch

Kazakhstan; the world's largest landlocked country


Today, Aknur Zhidebekkyzy spoke to us about her home country Kazakhstan, and her reason for visiting us in the UK. Aknur, a PhD student of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University and a visiting researcher at the University of Exeter, enlightened us all on Kazakhstan; its heritage, traditions, geographical and political climate, as well as the university at which she studies.

From this special event we were informed of a diverse range of topics about Kazakhstan; traditional eagle hunting, Kazakhstan’s ‘Switzerland’, beshbarmak, commonly used languages within central Asia, political relations between neighbouring countries, Kazakhstan’s history, as well as traditional Kazakh clothing. We learnt about Kazakhstan’s abundant energy resources such as coal, oil, and uranium, and its significant renewable energy potential. Many in Kazakhstan speak Kazakh and Russian, and are familiar with many of the languages spoken in nearby countries due to their common Turkish linguistic origins. Due to political tensions with China, Kazakhstan’s president Nazarbayev moved Kazakhstan’s capital from Almaty to Astana in 1997, in an attempt to preserve Kazakh power. Kazakhstan, the largest landlocked country, with an area as large as Europe, only has a population of 18 million people, thus it is joked in Kazakhstan that all Kazakh’s know each other.

Aknur also gave us insight into her university (Al-Farabi Kazakh National University), which is one of the largest in Kazakhstan, with attendance of 20,000, and it attracts many foreign students mostly from other Asian countries. Aknur herself is a PhD student and researcher, partnering with Exeter University to further her research.

This World at Lunch was a fascinating and educational event, particularly for those who lack knowledge of Kazakhstan! It encouraged us to think outside of our own immediate communities, to consider other traditions and perspectives, and even to venture outside and experience firsthand other ways of living.

Gown Meets Town

An opportunity for Exeter townspeople and students to get together to listen and contribute to presentations and debates from PhD students.

Devon Globe Trotters

Three months in Tolon; the many faces of Ghana


University student Natty Waldron came to speak to our Exeter community about his three-month volunteering experience volunteering with International Citizen Service in Tolon, Ghana.

Natty gave us a briefing of Ghana’s recent political and social history, as well as the country’s current state of affairs. He referred to political peace within an uninterrupted multi-party democracy with several peaceful transitions of power, smooth management of elections, and peaceful and democratic resolves of electoral disputes. Ghana’s economy has strengthened considerably in recent years, and from the 1980s to 2012 the expected years of school for children in Ghana has risen from seven years to 11.3 years, and the life expectancy at birth has risen from 53.1 to 64.4, whilst the HDI rating has increased substantially.

Despite such improvements, Ghana is still plagued by spiralling public debt, rising inflation and interest rates, a deepening energy crisis, poor working conditions, economic regional disparities, corruption, limited access to healthcare, and life-threatening diseases such as malaria.

Natty spoke of his team’s work in Tolon with NFED; Non-Formal Education Division. This project focuses o n the coordination of literacy activities in Ghana. Natty’s team ran income generation classes which included making soap and shea butter, which essentially aims to provide income for families and communities, and to equip Ghanaians with skills in finance, ICT, and marketing. NFED worked with Income Generating Groups (IGGs) which are women’s groups in Tolon and its surrounding communities. These IGGs focus primarily on making shea butter and processing rice, as well as dressmaking. NFED has worked for two years in Tolon in order to bring improvement to peoples’ lives there, and to increase production of the women’s local businesses.

ICS volunteers greatly focus on finding a strategy to improve and sustain this production, which includes registering the groups as cooperatives. Cooperatives work to empower people to improve their quality of life and to enhance their economic opportunities through self-help. Also, registering as a cooperative can increase the confidence of a group when applying for a loan or other financial support, and there is also more NGO support to expand your business.

Natty’s presentation included Adichie’s TEDx talk; The danger of a single story, which highlights common misconceptions negatively regarding Africa as a stereotypical, monolithic and uniform entity. This famous Nigerian author enlightens us on the rich and detailed complexities within the African continent which differ from country to country, and also questions the attainability of an ‘authentic Africa’.

Global Book Club

Michela Wrong: “I didn’t do it for you: How the world betrayed a small African nation” (2005; 400 pages)


At first I didn’t think I’d be interested in reading a lengthy book on the history of Eritrea, but I was soon taken into the story by the author’s vivid writing style. I wanted to know, as she promised to explain, what had happened in their history to make them so self-reliant and even bloody minded! It turned out that the little nation, situated between Ethiopia and the Red Sea, had suffered a series of invasions and that their plight had been ignored by the wider world. First the Italians had colonised it and subjected the people to an almost apartheid system of racial humiliation. Then the British had asset-stripped the country as they drove out the Italians. Next, Ethiopia, with its vision of a greater Ethiopia with access to the sea, and armed successively by America, the USSR and Israel, fought its little neighbour for years. The plucky Eritreans had fought back without foreign assistance but by its fighters living a strict Spartan existence in the arid mountains. When the Eritreans eventually achieved victory, they thought: Why should we be nice to other countries? They didn’t help us when we needed it! This, the author claims, lies behind their national character today. I found that this quest for an explanation kept me reading and that I became quite emotionally involved in the story. Well worth the effort!

Gillian Allen


Summer Programme

Global Centre News

Thursday, 13 April 2017

DDE at the Global Centre Events

Summer Programme 2017 


Wednesday 19th 1pm to 2pm - World at Lunch Special

Aknur Zhidebekkyzy will talk about Kazakhstan

Thursday 27th 1pm to 2pm - World at Lunch Special

Daina Leigh will talk about her work in Uganda


Sunday 7th 12 to 5pm - Open Day Fundraiser at Beech Hill

Monday 8th 6:30pm to 8pm – Global Book Club

        My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis

by Diana Darke

Thursday 11th 1pm to 2pm - World at Lunch Special

        Alexis Taylor will talk about Chocolate, Slavery and Fairtrade

Wednesday 24th 7pm to 8:30pm - Gown meets Town

Kerrie Bramhall will talk about her research in Kurdistan


Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th – Respect Festival

Saturday 10th 7pm to 10pm – Devon Global Trotters

        Bronwen and Stephen Lea will talk about their trip to India

Saturday 17th - Music and Poetry Evening

Thursday 22nd 1pm to 2pm - World at Lunch Special

        Akash Beri will talk about Censorship in Wartime

Monday 26th 6:30pm to 8pm – Global Book Club

        Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall


Saturday 8th 7pm to 10pm – Devon Globe Trotters

        Jill Allen will give an illustrated talk Jamaica Island Paradise?

Tuesday 11th – DDE 20 Years Anniversary Launch Event 



Summer Term Events

Global Centre News

DDE at the Global Centre Events – Summer 2016

Provisional Programme


Thursday 14th 1pm to 2pm

World at Lunch – Baraa Ehsaan Kouja, a Syrian student at the University of Exeter will talk about his exhibition of drawings and paintings made by Syrian refugee children currently living in Al-Abrar refugee camp in Lebanon.

Monday 25th 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Gown meets Town – Dr Kathrin Forstner from Exeter University, Department of Geography will talk about Gender, development and globalisation: Women’s craft producer groups in Southern Peru

Wednesday 27th 6:30pm for 7:00pm to 9:00pm – please reserve a place

Europe: In or Out?  A discussion evening using the ‘Talk Shop’ system


Thursday 12th 1:00pm – 2:00pm

World at Lunch Special – Louisa Adjoa Parker will talk about her writing, read poetry from her chapbook and from her anthology of black British short stories. 

Friday 13th 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Ugandan Evening – to meet Asaph Gheno Were, the Headteacher at Kisoko Boys Primary School; hosted by Sue Errington in Kennford. Cost £10. Contact DDE to reserve a place. 

Monday 16th 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Global Book Club Brexit: How Britain Will Leave Europe by Denis MacShane served in the Labour Government as Minister of State for Europe


Thursday 9th 1:00pm to 2:00pm

World at Lunch – Wendy Spratling will talk about her recent trip to Ghana

Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th Respect Festival

Friday 17th 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Devon Globe TrottersCarolyn Hallett will talk about her experiences on the building project at Residential Hostel for Visually Impaired Pupils at Katente West Primary School. Cost £10. Contact DDE to reserve a place. 

Monday 20th to Sunday 26thRefugee Week with theme of ‘Welcome’


Monday 4th 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Global Book Club The Year of Living Danishly Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Helen Russell

Thursday 7th 1:00pm to 2:00pm

World at Lunch – Bea Knight, Research Midwife at Exeter University Medical School, will talk about her project in Gambia

Tuesday 12th 6:30pm to 9:30pm

DDE Summer Party in Exeter Community Centre Garden

Saturday 16th Fundraising Cycle Ride for Katente West Residential Hostel 





Global Centre News

Thursday, 21 January 2016

 DDE at the Global Centre

Spring Term Newsletter 2016

We had three very successful World at Lunch Specials this term. In January Oz Osborne talked about the impact of international companies like Coca Cola on the culture of tribal people and other indigenous groups in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Southern India. He also discussed the work of Tamwed, the charity he founded, which links communities in South India and SW England and support projects that benefit the neediest in Tamil Nadu.

Call the Midwife Tanzania was the title of Liz Moore’s talk in February and the name of the charity she founded to provide the basic necessities of life to the Maasai people living in a group of in the Mvomero area of Morogoro district, Tanzania, East Africa. Although their work started with help for mothers and babies, their projects have expanded to include food and water security, health, education for girls and microfinance for women. Their key philosophy is to work in partnership with the local people some of whom are now trained as birth attendants.

Our final session in March, by contrast, brought friends from Hikmat who spoke movingly about the stories they had uncovered concerning the involvement of overseas troops in WWI. Of particular interest were accounts of a relative from the Indian continent who had served in the army and of Chinese service men who died and are buried in Plymouth.

Peter Wingfield-Digby gave another of his excellent evenings in the Devon Globe Trotters series. This time he told us about his journeys and adventures in Brazil and Argentina accompanied by great photographs and anecdotes.  Our thanks to Bronwen and Stephen Lea for their kind hospitality and to those who came and contributed £205 towards the Food for Thought project.

March 19th was our Cycling Saturday which started in Exmouth at 2pm for the fundraising cycle ride to Dawlish. This was in aid of the building appeal for the residential hostel for Visually Impaired pupils at Katente West Primary School, in rural Mubende. Thanks to the hardy and intrepid folk who cycled and their sponsors – we exceeded the target of £1,000. In the evening, Viv Horton talked about her epic cycle ride from Anchorage to Mexico City – magnificent scenery but some scary roads in places.

In February, Elena Isayev (Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Exeter) gave a talk entitled Migration, Borders and Refugees - Ancient and Modern. She contrasted out modern concepts of nationality and borders with the more open world of the past. She also reflected on her recent experiences of working with refugees in the West Bank.

We had two Global Book Club discussions this term. The 13th Labour of Hercules gave a disturbing insight into the chaotic nature of Greek governance and financial control showing how historic failures have led to the current crisis. The second book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs provided a powerful argument that decriminalising or legalising drugs would not lead to increased use and would greatly reduce the associated criminal activity.

DDE was involved in a busy schedule of events in Fairtrade Fortnight which focused this year on spices from Sri Lanka and South West India and included events for primary schools as well as talks for local Fairtrade groups. 


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