Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 16: At last, my love has come along . . .

Today was a day of love.

I started this morning with Etta James' "At Last" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1uunRdQ61M), a ridiculously classy 1961 song, my interest in which stands as a testament to my blooming and somewhat sporadic attraction to blues music. I then read Sonnet 16 (the penultimate of the "procreation sonnets" -- thank goodness!) on my sleepy way to work.

Our second day of didactic training began with an activity called "the adolescent experience." One volunteer, blindfolded, had to navigate around the room, not stopping until she was comfortable. On both sides of the room were lined up people assigned different roles in her life (written on the yellow papers shown below), such as "guy on the corner," "teacher," and "boyfriend," who had to do their best to lure her over to them. On the far end of the room was her "mother" (whom I played), trying to guide her in a straight line, or "do the right thing." Taylor, our "adolescent," was actually able to make it to my side of the room without stopping, and cited as the reason for this the fact that while everyone else was yelling indecipherably, my voice, although not overly loud, was strong, clear, and constant -- I simply repeated phrases of encouragement, positive reinforcement, and love. The point of this activity was to demonstrate all the conflicting and overwhelming influences in teenage life, but it also showed me something else: I have often said that all one needs in life is one friend, and this activity really showed me that. The one clear voice guiding Taylor across the room was all she needed to be successful, and this single supporter allowed her to achieve her goal.


After this activity, we reviewed a number of the concepts we learned yesterday, and participated in a few role play scenarios to demonstrate them more vividly. When we broke for lunch, a few children from the elementary school next door to Richardson Dwellings came into their classroom in the basement and began to chatter. They reminded me of my own students at Gyaan Ghar so much that I could not resist talking to them! After having been dubbed "Hannah Montana" and asked if a banana peel could be thrown at me, we were fast friends. They asked me "probing" questions about my personal life while I told them how much I envy the fact that they get to do homework! One adorable little girl asked me to take her picture:


I later learned that her name was Love. We headed outside, where another student asked if she could braid my hair, because it smelled nice. By the time my hair had welcomed two cornrows and five noses, it was time to get back to training! The module continued with an address by Melissa Varner, a sexual health specialist at SBY's P.O.W.E.R. Program (http://www.sashabruce.org/programs/show/healthy-lives/power-program), and concluded with a reflection on the myriad roles of a counselor outside of counselling.


I headed from Richardson Dwellings back to the main office of Sasha Bruce, where my friend Jessie was just finishing up a session with a new client, Jamar. She introduced me to him as he left, and he read us a poem entitled Love. Jessie and I chatted for over an hour, discussing training and our plans for next week, and then moving to broader topics like ambition, risk-taking, and motivation. I hope to spend more time with Jessie next Monday, and maybe even this weekend at the drum circle at Meridian Hill Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meridian_Hill_Park).

Grinning from ear to ear after our talk, I set out toward H Street NW to meet with Papa before we left. At an intersection, I ran into Elena Auntie, a close family friend and gem of an aunt! I spoke a bit about my job, and she about her upcoming move to Colombia, whence she originally hails. When I told her I would be traveling to Latin America, she invited me to spend some time with her on her farm in Colombia -- how amazing! After telling Papa about my day in the car, I came home and promptly crashed.

We now prepare to go out and watch Mere Brother Ki Dulhan ("My Brother's Bride"), which promises to be a brilliantly mindless film.

Love,
Ratna

P.S. Just got back from the movie, and one of the protagonists was named Luv. Just saying.

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