Wednesday, February 01, 2006
I love teaching. Actually, what it is that is so thrilling is not the actual teaching but watching people transform even in little doses—their minds, their attitudes, their behavior. I like watching them realize that they have power and decidedly set about using it to participate in creative processes. I facilitated my first training at CPA for 5 days on Conflict Resolution. It was intense. I could not have asked for a better group of participants—20 of the most committed members of CPA’s “youth” branch (all 20 and 30 somethings). They were excellent. Many of them were formerly abducted, some had lost parents or siblings, all of them were war affected.
I’m hopeful that the training was a beginning of a lot of things—as they work to apply new skills and ideas to their activities as an organization and in their lives I hope to continue being a resource to them. I think there were the beginning of some friendships, some mentoring relationships and a lot of potential that will need a little guidance and focus. We gave them certificates at the end. I was originally critical of the idea but it is an expected norm that has become part of educational culture put in place by the presence of so many NGOs. By the end I was fully convinced that they deserved certificates because of the great progress they made and I prepared a little speech for the “commencement.” I couldn’t get through it. I choked up when I got to the part when I noted that they had lived their whole lives never knowing peace but they were the ones who would insure that their children would grow up never knowing war.
In Northern Uganda watching the lights go on in the eyes of training participants is especially powerful as they shine it on some of the darkest deeds in human history. I really believe that. These “youth” have lived through things that those of us who haven’t can’t imagine—when we try we feel like if it had been us we’d have just stopped breathing or died under the crushing weight of the unspeakable evil that human beings are capable of inflicting on each other. But somehow they not only kept on breathing but they emerged activists that refuse to accept this unjust way of life as normal. They are wounded activists but they will not be stopped.