Once again we are off to a great start with the R+R program in the high school on Salt Spring Island. This fall though is particularly special in a different way than it has been in the past. My former co-facilitator Christina Antonick has left Salt Spring Island to take some time for her and her partner in Jamaica. She is working hard on making her relationship realize its’ fullest potential, and also seeking to make inroads around violence prevention/healthy relationship education in Jamaica. I am feeling truly inspired by her commitment to both of these important things in her life, while each day she is missed in some way.
I am however blessed with the presence of a new and gifted facilitator, Sharyn Carroll, who I have now had the pleasure of completing one R+R delivery with. Interestingly enough, Sharyn originally came from Jamaica prior to living in Canada.
As facilitators in the R+R program, our job is to work with students around the core concept of emotional intelligence and self-awareness – that is knowing what we are feeling in any given moment. This really is the backbone of the program, and what I consider to be a core life skill. From here, the issues in any given circle, or group of students, organically emerge. We quickly see that students do not often have the space to be emotionally expressive, and that violence, often in the form of verbal violence, is present within almost every group of students, in addition to sexism, racism and homophobia. It is then that the real work for us begins, as we steer and guide the conversation through the amazing variety of activities that the R+R program has, as well as our own abilities to craft and place great questions into the discussion.
When I first started this work with Christina three full years ago this fall, I was like a fish out of water. I liked to know which direction we were going, what activities we would do, and where we would get to. I was after all a teacher. Now I see that as a more seasoned facilitator, one of the greatest gifts we can give students, is to meet them where they are at; to have the discussion where they are.
I am most pleased to say that the first R+R delivery did just that. Thanks to Sharyn’s calm approach, combined with her determination to say what needs to be said, we had a great successful first delivery. I am once again immensely grateful to be a part of the feminist movement, and to be working with a powerful, grounded, articulate, intelligent, driven, and insightful woman. I could not be any luckier in terms of the happiness and fulfillment I get from my career.
Earlier today I read on Facebook a few words from my first supervisor in the R+R program, and a massive supporter of our work, Chris Gay. She said that gratitude is the basis for happiness. Well I am profoundly grateful and happy with my work, and although my happiness in life is not determined by my career, it sure makes me feel pretty happy with my life.
SWOVA – Empowering Youth for a Better Tomorrow