Now and then work takes me on the road. Sometimes travel involves facilitating a restorative process – providing an opportunity for people in conflict to talk about what happened, who’s been affected and what’s needed to move forward.
Sometimes travel involves trainings for schools, faith communities or community groups.
It all began in 2013 when Shalem’s Executive Director Mark Vander Vennen and I headed to Port-au-Prince Haiti to train a group of Haitian community leaders.
We realized the training we offer, based on a philosophy of developing and sustaining healthy relationships as developed by the International Institute for Restorative Practice (IIRP) – is universal. Implementing the training depends on the social context, but the basic values—the way of being together—reflect people at their best.
I returned to Haiti to facilitate restorative conversations with an NGO. Cultural differences were affecting staff relationships. The restorative process helped.
In 2016 and 2017 I went to the Dominican Republic as part of EduDEO’s Walking Together program.
One of the participants reflected on the impact of the training on her personally:
Before I worked at Renacer (her school), I had a difficult character. I was always negative. As a teacher when I started working with my principal, she challenged me to change. She worked with me to understand how I see relationships and how I see myself. I didn’t laugh or smile. Students were afraid of me. One day, the principal asked: “Why is your face always scrunched up?” She challenged me to think about how I was acting and being with others. I looked into the mirror and I knew I needed to change. These trainings have been many blessings. People have seen my perseverance to see things differently and the restorative training has really helped me deal with others more positively and to not be afraid to name things with others that could be challenging.
Last summer I was part of an IIRP training team in Jamaica. The training supported the IMPACT Justice Project, an initiative of Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean.
This summer, as part of EduDEO’s Walking Together Program, I went to Belize to train educators from Presbyterian Church schools.
Travelling abroad is terrific. Having the opportunity to work outside Ontario in Canada is also great. I recently offered a FaithCARE training in Winnipeg. The participants included Anglicans, Baptists, and Alliance church members. The conversations were rich, at times challenging and always stimulating.
My next port of call is Managua, Nicaragua in November. I’m sure there will be many learnings; many stories to tell.
It’s a privilege to share my work with others at home and abroad. It’s an honour to learn from people in such diverse communities. I look forward to being on the road again.