by Dandan, K4P Intern
“How do we see the individual in the midst of the group?” asked Rawan to the circle of Leap and Roots educators in the small K4P office on Thursday, March 12. This was the central question that guided the group’s reflection as they met to plan activities and approaches for the upcoming K4P student gatherings.
Rawan is the Executive Director of Building Bridges, a nonprofit that aims to empower Israeli and Palestinian women with communication and leadership skills needed to address the root causes of conflict. Drawing upon her extensive experience in education and social work, she first asked the counselors to list the qualities they would like to create in the environment for the kids.
Rawan zeroed in on “loved” as the cornerstone quality. She discussed the importance of redefining “love” as one that takes into account the boundaries between personal and professional. “How can you be the kids’ counselor but also a supportive friend?” she asked. The right approach revolved around setting the ground for rules from the very beginning.
After focusing on positive qualities, Rawan turned the cards and asked the counselors to list the feelings they would not like to create in the meeting environment:
“As a counselor, it is your responsibility to have these qualities in mind,” said Rawan.
“These kids come with stories of their own and have lives outside of the K4P group setting. It’s important you don’t make part of the individual’s identity invisible…As counselors, you are not the center. The kids are. Once you move yourself out of the center, you will have a better lens to see what’s going on.”
Afterwards, she encouraged the counselors to think about what could improve in their groups.
Michal, a Jewish advisor, mentioned the need to increase the feeling of group belonging, since this year, her group was formed from many small groups from the years before. Mariam, a Christian advisor, expressed the need to enforce a sense of mutual purpose, since she felt her group needed to reconnect with why they came in the beginning. Nadine, another Christian advisor, said she wanted the older groups to feel more empowered to make change.
The reflection session didn’t end with answers as it did with more questions.
“What is your belief system and how does that influence your own behavior?”
“What are your fears and how do they affect your actions?”
These were the questions the educators were left thinking about, as they broke into groups to plan for their upcoming K4P gatherings.