Who Am I?
If you’re looking for more information on the We Can Do blog itself, then the two pages you want are “About the We Can Do blog” and “Why We Can Do?” Or if you were looking for help in navigating this blog and finding the information you want, then go to “Navigating We Can Do.”
If you were wondering about the identity and background of the editor of this blog, then read on.
Who am I?
I’m Ms. Andrea Shettle, MSW. People who only “meet” me on line frequently assume I’m a man, perhaps because “Andrea” can apparently be a male name in places like Italy and Greece. But I’m actually an American woman. I have long ago given up on correcting people who address me as “Mr.” or “Sir!” I have probably mistaken the gender and cultural background of other people on-line at least as frequently as they have mine, so I suppose it all evens out :-)
People with disabilities often are interested in knowing whether other people in the disability field also have disabilities. (I know I am, though I don’t always ask.) So: Yes, I’m a person with disabilities. I’ve been Deaf since birth. Some people think that doesn’t count as a “disability” because they see that as purely a cultural identification. Personally I’m comfortable calling it BOTH a disability AND a cultural identity. In any case, even if you don’t count being Deaf as a disability, that’s not my only disability. But the rest is a longer story.
What brought me to disability, development, and human rights?
Compared to the worldwide norm for people with any disability, I have been enormously fortunate. Unlike millions of people with disabilities around the world, I had the opportunity not only to complete primary school but also to go on to secondary school then to university. Unlike the large numbers of disabled people in both rich and poor countries who are unemployed, I have managed to hold some kind of paying job for most of my adult life.
Meanwhile, around the world, 1 billion people still lack access to a safe source of water; 2.6 billion lack access to clean sanitation services; 1.6 billion people lack electricity (and experts estimate 1.4 billion are likely to still remain without electricity by the year 2030); and about 800 million people are chronically malnourished. I have never faced these kinds of challenges.
But it is only accident of birth that separates me from the many Deaf women of equivalent talents and ambition who remain isolated in their own communities and even within their own homes: many parents of deaf children in developing countries have little opportunity to learn how to sign. It is also only accident of birth that separates me from the many rural deaf women who have never learned any language at all–not spoken, not written, not signed; not the word “Mama,” not their own name. The only difference between any of them and me is accident of birth.
These are some of the reasons why I have endeavored to devote myself to issues related to disability, international development, and human rights in developing countries. My aspiration, though, is not to work on behalf of people with disabilities in developing countries. Rather, my goal is to work in alliance with them.
In all countries, developing or otherwise, the true capacities of people with disabilities are frequently underestimated: we are assumed incompetent until proven otherwise. Similarly, people in rich countries underestimate the true capacities of people who live in poverty in developing countries, whether or not they are disabled. Both poor people (disabled or not), and people with disabilities (poor or not), are simply assumed to be in need of a handout when they are actually in need of opportunity. People who have had limited educational opportunities are assumed to be, not just uneducated, but incapable of learning information or skills at all. One thing we all share in common is that we need allies more than we need caretakers or charity.
What are my qualifications for doing this blog?
I have 10 years of experience as a professional writer.
In 1998, I established an email discussion group for deaf people in developing countries and other interested people (the group, deafintl, is still running, though very quiet). Over the years I have slowly built a network of contacts in the field, partly by joining many email discussion groups on relevant topics, attending brown bag lunch lectures on disability at the World Bank, and other means. Some of my contacts have been grassroots advocates with disabilities in developing nations; others have been professionals (with and without disabilities) who work in the field.
I have worked in the disability field (domestically) and have also worked in the international development field.
My first masters (post graduate) degree is in social work. I’m currently working part time toward a second masters degree in International Development, with a focus on disability issues, at Gallaudet University.
No, I don’t know everything there is to know about the field of disability and international development, or disability and international human rights. No one does. But over the years, I’ve learned the different ways for staying on top of what is happening in these fields and what information is out there to be acquired. And I have always loved the idea of helping people accomplish more simply by putting them in touch with the resources they need to do their job.
What brought me to We Can Do?
There are many reasons why I started the We Can Do blog. One was to make it a little easier for grassroots advocates with disabilities in developing countries to locate the materials, resources, and information they need to accomplish their own goals, in accordance to their own priorities. (I just wish, very badly, that I had an easy way to reach people who don’t have Internet access. Any ideas? Please share. Bearing in mind that my budget is exactly zero.) Another is to help mainstream international development professionals understand the need to pro-actively include people with disabilities in their projects and programs, and to arm them with the information and tools they need to do it.
A third motivation was wish fulfillment. When I was a young college student, I already knew I wanted to pledge the rest of my life and career to international disability issues. What I didn’t know was where I could educate myself further about the many challenges facing people with disabilities in developing countries, or how I could possibly get involved in making a difference. Maintaining this blog gives me a way of disseminating exactly the kind of information I would have loved to have discovered at the age of 19.
Also, it gives me a way to stay connected to the on-line community of people who share the same strong commitment to issues relating to poverty and human rights among people with disabilities in developing countries. And it helps motivate me to keep abreast of the latest news and the most recently released resources and toolkits relevant to the field of disability, international development, and human rights.
How do I do it?
People sometimes ask where I get my financial backing for We Can Do. My usual response is to laugh!
If you check out http://www.wordpress.com, you’ll see that wordpress.com is a service that provides people–any person on the planet with Internet access–a free way to set up a blog site. This means I don’t need funding for web hosting. Just time; writing skills; and enough familiarity with computers to learn how to run a blog on a user-friendly platform such as the one at wordpress.com (No, you don’t have to be a computer programmer to learn how to run a blog. Most blogging platforms are geared at writers who only have a few basic computer skills.)
I work on We Can Do entirely in my own free time. Sometimes I do wish I could get paid for it! But, no. I receive no funding for the time I invest in this blog. The only “payment” I receive is watching the amount of traffic that comes to this blog (100,000 hits in the first year!) and receiving feedback from people who benefit from its information.
I love feedback
Feedback helps motivate me to keep up this blog.
What kind of content or information do you like? Do you think my blog entries are usually too long? Too short? Just the right length? Do you want to see more of my own opinions on the resources I write about, or fewer of them? Is my language simple enough to understand, or too complex? Is it easy for you to find the information you’re looking for? Have you ever run into any accessibility problems at We Can Do that I should fix? Please share your comments about We Can Do, what you like about it, and how I could improve it. I may not always have time to respond, but I will definitely read them. You can leave comments in the comments area below this post.
My resume, and job hunting criteria
All the above is part of the personal side of me and what motivates me to keep up with this blog. If you want to know more about my professional background, then you can skim my resume below.
I do have an ulterior motive in posting my c.v.: I am currently hunting for a new job.
As you might guess, I am very strongly interested in working in an organization dedicated to improving the living standards or access to human rights for people with disabilities in developing countries. Something involving the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would be great also.
I prefer to remain living in the Washington, DC area, but may be willing to consider moving elsewhere under certain narrowly specific conditions. (For example, there would need to be reasonable opportunities for future professional growth, either at the same organization or at other relevant employers in the same metropolitan area. But there are other criteria to consider also.)
I’m willing to “telecommute.” For example, if you have editing or writing assignments that I could work on from home and send to you via email, then we can talk.
Yes, I’m very willing to travel as part of my job.
I prefer a reasonably secure, long-term job (meaning, a year or longer). But I may also be willing to discuss short-term contracts (meaning, for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months).
Here’s my resume; phone number available on request (Washington DC area) for people with serious job offers or job leads.
Resume of Andrea Lynn Shettle, MSW
- Ten years of professional writing and editing experience covering international issues, poverty, human rights, disability-related topics, the education field, employment issues, and other subjects. This includes writing talking points and speeches, newsletter articles, and blog posts; developing briefing materials for the president of the World Bank; and researching a wide range of topics related to international development and disability rights.
- I have interned in Costa Rica and worked with individuals from diverse cultures.
- I have a working knowledge of written Spanish and Lengua de Señas de Costa Rica (LESCO, Costa Rican Sign Language) and am fluent in American Sign Language. I have recently started to study French (beginning level).
Writing/Research Assistant to the Speech Writer for the World Bank President
2003 to Present
Office of the President of the World Bank, Washington, DC
- Write or draft talking points and speeches for World Bank president.
- Conduct research for the speech writer to be used as background for, or content in, the speeches written for the president of the World Bank; gather or develop briefing materials, as needed; fact check figures for speeches.
- Prior to departure of former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, participated in the process of producing a book collecting the best of Wolfensohn’s speeches, op-ed articles, and book forewords, including by making the first cut in which of his works should be included in the final product, and by helping to proofread the galleys.
Writer/Website Developer (Content)
Disability Rights Fund
- Research and gather web links to web sites; organizations; alternate funding sources; materials on how to develop grant proposals and project budgets; and other information useful to potential grantees, for Resource section of the Disability Rights Fund website
- Write resource summaries; organize links into a coherent, hierarchal structure for web site.
World Institute on Disability/Inter-American Institute on Disability, Oakland, CA/Washington, DC
- Edited and wrote articles on free-lance basis for on-line publications including Proyecto Visión.
Gallaudet University, Social Work Department, Washington, DC
- Taught undergraduate courses in human diversity and in introductory social work; curriculum included a basic overview of community work and policy issues.
Gallaudet University, English Works! Department, Washington, DC
- Tutored students in writing skills and developed educational materials for on-line use.
University of Costa Rica at San Jose/Gallaudet University, San Jose, Costa Rica
- Worked with local NGO dedicated to organizing and representing local deaf community; taught six-day seminar for 16 deaf adults on leadership, teamwork, and conflict resolution skills.
- Assisted in a class of deaf children, ages 11-14, in building self-esteem and teamwork skills
Center for Global Education, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC
- Gathered information about status of deaf communities around the world, including from grant proposals from DPOs; wrote partial summary of findings.
Gallaudet University, Department of Publications and Production, Washington, DC
- Wrote hundreds of news and feature articles on deadline for publication.
- Copyedited and proofread various booklets, brochures, and other materials for grammar, spelling, and stylistic consistency.
- Collaborated with other RatifyNow members to develop a FAQ on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (http://ratifynow.org/ratifynow-faq).
- Organized a “blog swarm,” hosted at the RatifyNow.org web site on March 30, to bring attention from bloggers to the CRPD (http://ratifynow.org/2008/03/29/ratifynow-crpd-blog-swarm-2008/).
- Regularly post news and announcements related to the CRPD (http://ratifynow.org).
- Established and maintain “We Can Do,” a blog on international development and disability, targeted at both grassroots disability advocates (DPOs) and development professionals (https://wecando.wordpress.com).
- Gather and post relevant press releases, announcements, academic papers, links to toolkits and resources, and case studies of interest to target audience; research and write fresh content.
- A number of We Can Do blog posts have focused on the CRPD and other disability rights topics.
- We Can Do received more than 100,000 hits (page views) in its first year. It currently receives more than 12,000 hits per month.
- Established and maintain “deafintl,” an e-mail discussion list for deaf adults in developing nations and their advocates (http://patriot.net/~ashettle/deafintl).
Founder, Scholarship Fund
Gallaudet University, Washington, DC
- Established International Deaf Education and Advancement Fund (I-DEAF) at Gallaudet University.
- Raised $10,000 for endowed fund in the first year.
- I-DEAF currently grants scholarships to one or two students from developing countries each year.
Masters of Social Work (MSW), Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, May 2000
Graduate Certificate in International Development and Disability, Gallaudet University,
Washington, D.C., May 2005
Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Honors English, University Honors, summa cum laude, Gallaudet
University, Washington, D.C., May 1992
I am currently working toward my second master’s degree in International Development, with a focus on disability issues, at Gallaudet University on a part-time basis.
International Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability, three-week intensive training program with 30 women with disabilities from 28 developing countries around the world, run by Mobility International USA in Eugene, Oregon (Fall 2003)
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