Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 15: The world is my parachute.

After Sonnet 15 this morning, it was time for DIDACTIC TRAINING from 9 to 5! I headed to Richardson Dwellings, SBY's latest housing development site in D.C. We headed to the basement (which has recently been remodeled by SBY's YouthBuild program - and jumped right in to Mary Ann Walters' family-based approach to counseling.

Important topics included "meeting people where they are" (both emotionally and geographically), "understanding how people understand themselves," and appreciating people for more than just the experiences they have been through. We covered a lot today, and all that I learned would be extremely useful merely for understanding myself, even if I were not going to apply it to social work over the next few weeks.

Below, see my (largely illegible) notes on various aspects of SBY's competency-based philosophy, which utilizes an individual's skills to empower him/her to solve his/her own problems (very Transcendentalist, methinks . . . ):

After general discussion, we broke into smaller groups to brainstorm ways to connect -- both big and small -- with our clients, colleagues, and friends. What this activity showed us was that many of the techniques used for one audience worked equally well for the other two, because, as a fellow intern pointed out, "in the end, we're all people."

Last, we participated in an eye-opening activity. A label was placed on each of our foreheads -- what it said, we knew not. We could, however, see the labels of our colleagues, and were told to treat them according to the role designated by their label. Our challenge was to plan a night at the Kennedy Center with one another. The task proved quite impossible, as all gravitated toward the colleague labeled "Leader," who was not quite sure why everyone turned to her. The girl labeled "Car Thief" was jokingly told to "arrange transportation," while the "Drug Dealer" was put in charge of funding. I was asked repeatedly if I was feeling up to go to the play. At the conclusion of the activity, when none of the details for the outing had been organized, the facilitators asked each of us to describe our experience and guess what our label said. The girl whose label said "Ignore Me" had felt invisible, while the "High School Dropout"said she must have been someone intellectually challenged. I learned that my label read "HIV-Positive." What struck me about the exercise was not only how we treated the others because of the labels assigned to them, but how we had very little idea of what classifications had been ascribed to us ourselves! To extrapolate this outside of the simulation, people often treat us a certain way according to labels produced by assumptions or rumors of which we ourselves may not even be aware.

After a first day of didactic training chock-full of learning, Papa and I drove home under a magnificent sky.

When we arrived home, we were welcomed by my brilliant cousin Resham, who is a junior at UVA's McIntire School of Commerce. She took us out to a nice Thai dinner -- a great end to the evening!

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