Yesterday, I had the privilege of leading a Diversity Workshop at a local high school. This workshop was one of the great passions of my teaching life for 20 years in two public school systems. It is so powerful, energizing and hopeful!
It pumped me up, reconnected me to teens, took all of us to a deeper level of sharing, especially in Caucuses, Hidden Identities and Speak-outs. There were so many examples in this group of suffering from alcoholism, conflicts with parents, suicide and cancer, in addition to prejudice and stereotyping. Leading the workshop requires a great deal of skill and training to help young people open up so much pain and to look at solutions.
The workshop is even more powerful when led by teenagers. They learn to listen deeply, to help other students connect to friends who are sharing similar forms of suffering and solutions. Sharing cuts pain in half, bringing it out into the open in a setting where confidentiality and respect are the rules. The DW makes it possible for young people to hear that there is someone else suffering from depression, an alcoholic parent, death or stereotyping in the same way, to help bring them out of isolation. Also to hear that another student cherishes her Jewish faith or Latin food or loves to create art, creating connection and hope. Revealing some of the pain and joy with teachers and counselors who can also follow up with individuals and find inspiration in becoming workshop leaders themselves – such a joy for me! It works! It’s still about the most powerful model I’ve found for taking a group of teenagers to a very deep level of sharing in one amazing three hour session. The possibilities for other classes and activities flowing from it depend on the commitment and enthusiasm of a few teachers and students. I am so happy to help younger teachers carry on my tradition of the Diversity Workshop and Peace Studies classes!
Watering seeds of Hope, peace and joy feels so GOOD!!!!!!