Monday, March 8, 2010

Domestic Violence

The class was held as a conversation, rather than a lecture. A woman named Karen Wyman, who is a board member of WE LEARN, lead the class. She started off by asking "What is love?", as we all answered around the room we came up with some of the same words.. "Trust, Compromise, Respect, Honesty, Communication, Fun." If love is all of these things and more, we know what it also isn't. Abuse. There are different forms of abuse being mental, physical, and sexual. It seemed all the women in the room shared in common the fact that they had all experienced some form of abuse in their lives. Abuse in a relationship deals with unbalanced control, meaning one person has or seeks control over the other. In an abusive relationship it is never a one-time-thing, it is a pattern, a cycle. In these relationships there is an abuse of trust, because it is in the context of a relationship you should feel safe in.

The class learned that in most cases, but certainly not all, men are the abusers of women. It is an act of extreme male dominance. One woman shared that her abusive father actually taught her what later saved her life against an abusive husband. "Never give a man control of your home." Her father preached. This woman found that having the apartment she shared with her husband in HER name kept her safe because it meant that he would always be the one who had to leave in a tough situation because by law it would be HER home.
The class went on to discuss injustices in how women are protected by the court system. Restraining orders are just a piece of paper, and only effective against people who obey the law. The system is flawed and it sometimes really helps women, and other times lets them down terribly. A woman who had served time in jail expressed hearing a story about a woman on death row for murdering her husband in defense of her and her child. Karen then shared with us how a man who plead guilty to murdering a 16 year old got only 8 years in jail in another case. The class discussed how this injustice could be a product of the male dominated court system...and going further...a male dominated country.
To better help women against violence, long term care must be in place. We ended the class questioning "What can we do?" and the answers aren't simple. However, first off report it, if we are abused or see someone being abused. Then sharing and support are vital for women to move on in their lives. Third is to get information about who you are dating and be wise about your choices.

Statistics show that 80% of incarcerated women are victims of domestic violence and little support is provided. Visit to hear their stories.

Student Leadership

"Its the little things you do make the big differences"

What is a Student Leader?

-"Someone who is responsible for everything"
-"Someone who is capable of helping with a variety of things"

Does taking the step to lead make you become a leader?
Everyone can be a leader, they can lead by examples, practising what they say. It is believed that anytime you have someone following behind you can be considered a leader.

Some ways of becoming a leader
-Do Homework
-Showing up to School
-Actively participating in groups and projects around the school

Characteristics of becoming a leader
-Speaking up for what is right
-Recognising who you are
-Always willing to learn
-Having the initiative to be m.a.d (making a difference)

Every leader has a leader, every leader looks up to someone.

Healing Power of Words:Choosing Books that Change our lives

Reading makes us become more educated

What is reading?

Common Beliefs about reading:
1. Reading is vital because it determines what your mind is focused on.
2. Feeding the right thoughts to the brain is like planting a seed and preparing a harvest
3. Reading is power

How do we choose a book that can heal?
"The writer must b able to revel and roll in the abundance of words, he must also know the secret power of a word" (Knit Harsen)

There are text that
-Books that make you degrade yourself
-Conflicts with your beliefs
-Make you feel bad about yourself (what you internalise become part of you)

-Positively influences you life
-Gives a sense of satisfaction and meaning
-Promote self development

Next time you choose a book make sure it's one that help you heal and challenges your development and upliftment

Interview with Cherly Mc Falden

"We empower ourselves by reading more"
"Education is the passport for the future"

What inspired you to get into adult literacy:
I was a tutor in Philadelphia and there was a high level of illiteracy especially among the black within the community. There was also a lack of volunteers to help others.

What literacy mean to you:
I feel I am doing what God has put me on the earth to do, I feel obligated.

What changes do you want to see in terms of literacy:
I want literacy become more flexible and accessible to adults. Sometimes literacy schedule coincide with their job schedules or house chores. They sometimes have no one to look after their children.

What do you believe reading can do for others:
Reading is power, it helps you find yourself and gives you a voice

Inverview with Miriam Sassy of Project Hope

Miriam is a young lady originally from Liberia enrolled in project hope. Throughout her interview Miriam had to be reminder that she could talk freely and be herslef.

What inspired you to join Project Hope:
I had a six year old daughter and I wanted her to have a better life than I ever had. Also I wanted to got to school to be a positive role model on her.

What do you want to get out of the program that you are enrolled in:
Well, firstly I want to get my GED, once I do that I can go to college and fulfil my dream of becoming a medical assistant.

Once you finish with the program do you see yourself helping others get to the point where you did:
I would admit I am a very shy person, before I started Project Hope I was afraid to even open my mouth. I was scared people would laugh at everything I had to say. Since I started project hope I have learnt to talk and relate to others. Therefore I think once I build my courage I would be able to relate to others.

How do people in the program motivate you:
When I started project hope I thought I was the only one who had problems, once I got there I realised that everyone had a story similar to mine. Now I believe I am not on my own but there are people who understand what I am going through.

What is the most beneficial thing you have learnt from Project Hope:

The program mostly taught me to read and write but the one thing I cherish that I have learnt from the program is the development of ideas. I can now think about things on my own, than relying on what others have to say. I feel liberated.

Thank you project hope for the difference you are making in my life and that of my daughter.

Interview with Shelly Walters

Shelly is tutor at a literacy program and she feels inspired to do her work

Why did you join the adult literacy team:
I would admit I came from a home where my parents were not very educated. I did not want that cycle to continue because I believed that everyone should be educated. I wanted to initiate change in other people's life and not allow them to go through the thing I went through with literacy. Also I think there was a need to help others and no one to fill those positions

What do you think is you biggest challenge being part of a literacy team:
To educate others, a lot of people don't have the power to change their life. I want to be that person they can lean on and get the support they need.

Gifts and Secrets

In this session, I was more excited going in than I was for a few others after just quickly scanning through the review of the session in our manuals of the weekend convention. Karen Wyman was the leader of this workshop as well, which also made me excited because she conducted an amazing workshop that I previously attended.
The room was set up in a circle, as were a lot of other workshops that I was a part of, and the lights were all shut off except for a few to create a more relaxing atmosphere. We went around the room stating our first names and a one word wish for something we want for ourselves. Karen took us through relaxing breathing techniques so we could become more intuitive to our thoughts and to ourselves in general.
After taking us through this silent relaxing exercise, we were asked to walk up to a table where there were face-down tarot cards laid out for us to each pick four. Once we picked out our cards, we needed to go back to our seats and then study all four of them and try to relate ourselves to what we see in the cards.
After a few moments of analyzing the cards, Karen asked us all to each pick out one card that we felt reached out to our lives the most. This part was hard because some of the cards were more difficult to interpret than others, but once we finally figured it out, we held our chosen card out in front of us until everyone was finished. After everyone was done, Karen had each of us go around the circle and explain why each card reached out to us the most. All but one woman seemed very comfortable with this exercise and opened up themselves a little bit to the rest of us, including myself. Once we were finished, we placed that one chosen tarot card down in front of us on the floor and held the other three in our hands to further analyze.
Next, Karen had asked us to turn our cards upside down, shuffle them a little bit, and arbitrarily chose one and hand it to the woman to the right of us in the circle. The person that we handed the card to then had to explain what they thought your card meant in conjunction with your life from what you have already told the circle from your previous card. This was a nice exercise because it was amazing to see how much all the women listened to one another and the input they shared.
After that was finished, we still had two remaining cards left in our hands. At that point, Karen asked us all to chose one card and give it to another person in the circle that we thought it belonged to as well, and then we needed to explain to them why we thought the card belonged to them. It was interesting to see why other women chose to give certain cards away, and it was very touching in other ways to realize how much we all seemed to care about the other 'strangers' in the circle. This part of the workshop seemed to touch everyone in a much more concerning way. You could see certain faces light up after being surprised that another women had read them so well.
Afterward we only had one more card in our hands. Karen told us that the last card represents one major message that we should be taking that corresponded with our current lives in general. We were told to take a few minutes to analyze the card, and think deeply about the potential meanings of each one. Some women, (myself included,) needed to ask the circle for help in understanding their card, as some cards were more misleading than others. Other women had a direct connection to the card. We each went around the circle and explained how our last card related to our lives and what the main message could be. It it nice to say that some women were left with a satisfying feeling, and others took their cards as motivational messages, and others found themselves opening up to the rest of the circle and coming out with feelings that they have never even released before to anyone else.
The fact that we were comfortable enough to talk about our personal lives, and even be trusted enough to listen to other the women's deepest emotions and life struggles was touching on its own. Even if the cards did not make you feel like you learned something or recieved a universal message, we all at least had the oppertunity to actually stop for an hour and a half and think about OURSELVES, (for once!) The exercise was not too difficult because the cards did not only have words on them, but Karen explained in the introduction of the workshop that tarot cards were invented so that people that were illiterate could also interpret them as well. I feel like all of the women in the circle certainly bonded to one another in a way that we were not expecting to when we walked in to the workshop. It was a very rewarding experience, and in my opinion a great way to end such an amazing weekend of learning, educating, and enlightenment.