• Gender: Zooming in and out as We Search for Equality

    May 5, 2017. Nora Dooley shares thoughts after her visit with long-time partners ACER Brasil in Diadema for the fifth year of programming and first year of ASK for Choice.

     

    What does it mean to be a man? To do something ‘like a man’? To be ‘masculine’?
    What about a woman? Female? Feminine?

    As the lines between genders blur and we begin to understand the origins of these identities, we become better equipped to recognize, question, and challenge expectations, norms, traditions, and cultures that limit us – whoever we are, whatever we call ourselves.

    But…

    While the smashing of labels and boxes that contain us sends a powerful message to any who dare assume our strengths, abilities, and vulnerabilities – our wants, needs, and fears – solely based on what body we are born to… can those same labels serve a collective, more equal future? And if we use those labels to empower us – to put language to injustice and call out oppressing forces – how do we strike the balance between the ideal and the real? How do we walk and breathe equality in a vastly unequal reality?

    These are some of the complex questions we explored on the futsal court last week in Diadema where we have worked for several years with our partners, ACER Brasil.

    Through almost 50 different games and activities we moved together as a group of humans, each with our own individual experiences and visions, towards a tangible, practical, and sustainable goal. We navigated the existing issues and climates that contribute to the realities people in Brazil (and the rest of the world!) are faced with each day, and emerged through this complicated, sometimes blinding, fog with a fresh sense of possibility.

    This group of women and men from different communities, and with nearly 50 years of life between some, welcomed me for the second consecutive year into their space. They offered me their time, ideas, voices, ears, kindness, hugs, and willingness to march together for a future where all of us have access, knowledge, and opportunities to make the choices that will serve our personal and collaborative aims. I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to build on this rich partnership, introducing and tasting new ASK for Choice flavors, and sharing this inspiring and creative environment with the ACER team and our other valuable partners.

    In the final days we made commitments to ourselves and to each other to continue asking ‘Why?’ and to move with clear eyes from the ‘What?’ to the ‘How?’. We played, laughed, danced, discussed, dug deep, reflected, and created. I leave Brazil eager to watch and listen as these leaders bring policies to life in their communities and beyond.

    Obrigada, Diadema! Eu Vou…

  • Redescubriéndonos a Través del Juego

    April 20, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Panchi, reflects on week in Antofagasta, Chile with partners Futbol Mas.

    Desde la experiencia que viví como CIC, y participante de los talleres, considero que ambas organizaciones tienen enfoques similares respecto a los procesos de aprendizaje que se pretenden facilitar, como el conocer nuevos escenarios y salir de tu zona de confort favorece el desarrollo de las personas.

    Plantear el aprendizaje desde el descubrimiento, el desafío, proporcionando  un acompañamiento que impulse, intenta promover y animar al participante a valorar la  aventura,  la experiencia, otorgándole  la confianza  en las propias capacidades  para  enfrentar los obstáculos que se presentan en el camino. Lo más importante de todo,  significar los obstáculos y errores como el tesoro  más preciado dentro de la aventura. Hablamos un mismo lenguaje, nos mueven las mismas cosas y aunque suene cliché, creemos en que podemos construir un mundo mejor. Eso permitió que mi experiencia fuera tan enriquecedora, el poder tomar todo lo nuevo para contribuir a lo que nosotros queremos lograr con nuestra intervención, otorgó un profundo sentido a esta invitación.

    Considero que la forma de trabajo de CAC te entrega la oportunidad de  ir  descubriendo como puedes ser un Coach desde las propias habilidades, como uno puede  apropiar la metodología entregada a sus propias formas  y crear desde ese espacio único y personal. Al comienzo estaba constantemente preguntándome  cuál era la forma correcta, como debo hacerlo, cual es la estructura y pasos, ya que pensaba que existía una sola forma  de intervenir. Luego de observar las dinámicas que se daban en las clases, las diversas alternativas y creaciones que los mismos participantes proponían, me enseñaron a mí que las formas en que uno como coach puede llevar una actividad son infinitas y valiosas.

    Los talleres en Antofagasta fueron increíbles, me sorprende que frente a un mismo estímulo, como lo es un juego, la dinámica durante este y el análisis posterior  puede darse de forma  tan diferente entre un grupo y otro, como se desarrolló por ejemplo en Santiago. Desde las variantes que el mismo grupo de participantes propone, hasta las reflexiones y pensamientos que se comparten en el espacio,   se configura una experiencia única que pertenece a ese grupo humano en particular, lo cual considero simplemente maravilloso. El deporte y juego son herramientas realmente profundas y sabias, las cuales a pesar de  estar presentes  diariamente en lo que hacemos en Fútbol Más jamás me dejarán de sorprender, el clima emocional que generan,  el cómo invitan a participar y a sentirnos cómodos con personas que recién estamos conociendo,  darnos el espacio y la valoración de hacer el ridículo, de reír y mirarnos, con la misma libertad con la que los niños lo hacen permiten una mirada mucho más cercana y empática.

    Cada juego tiene un objetivo, un sentido,  algunos el espacio para agregar variantes e invitar a los participantes a crear, permitiendo inmediatamente establecer  una relación horizontal y de coconstrucción entre el Coach y los participantes. Si una variante propuesta no  funciona, esto se toma como una oportunidad para analizar y realizar preguntas  y así construir aprendizajes más profundos. Dentro de la sesión existen algunas preguntas que pueden orientar respecto a donde queremos llegar con esa conversación,  lo cual no  significa que existan respuestas correctas o incorrectas, pero si un espacio en donde facilitemos el cuestionamiento. Me encanta la flexibilidad de las propuestas, su  simpleza y su  profundidad,  donde definitivamente menos es más.

    Para mí, uno de los aprendizajes más trascendentales  durante  la pasantía  como un CIC  fue redescubrir qué es el juego así como su función simbólica y metáforas lo que permiten la toma de conciencia de nuestro comportamiento,  creencias, emociones y acciones que lo subyacen, brindando la posibilidad de profundizar tanto en nuestros procesos internos como en la contingencia, enmarcado dentro de una vivencia emocionalmente positiva y libre de amenazas.

    Muchas veces como adultos y profesionales podemos identificar diferentes temáticas humanas y sociales que consideramos tan importantes de conversar y poner sobre la mesa, tales como la equidad de género, prevención en el área de la salud sexual e  inmigración entre otras cosas. Cómo tutores tenemos la misión de generar  espacios de discusión, de cuestionamiento, de saber  que es lo que piensan e invitarlos a tener una postura consciente y propia  frente a la realidad del contexto, tanto con las niñas y niños con los que trabajamos como con sus comunidades. En  ocasiones no encontramos las formas que inviten a la participación, ante eso nos  sentimos incómodos,  se nos crea una dificultad   para generar un espacio donde las personas se sientan cómodas y  con la confianza de interactuar,  compartir sus pensamientos en un ambiente de respeto por las diferencias de opinión facilitando un espacio de discusión sano. La metodología de aprendizaje auto dirigido nos abre puertas y posibilidades infinitas.

  • Rediscovering Ourselves Through the Game

    April 19, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Panchi, writes about experience working with Futbol Mas in Antofagasta, Chile. Translated by volunteer, Nico.

    From the experience that I lived with CAC and as a participant in the games, I see that both organizations have a similar focus with respect to the form of learning that they aim to create, and how the new spaces and going out of your comfort zone allows you to develop. Putting learning aside discovering, challenging yourself, valuing your experiences, delivering an opportunity that encourages adventure while at the same time gives you the confidence in your own capacities to face the obstacles that are presented in the way, is incredible. Most importantly, we treat the obstacles and mistakes as the most treasured piece within the adventure. We speak the same language, the same things move us and even if it sounds cliché, we believe that we can build a better world. That allowed my experience to be so enriching. Being able to take everything new to contribute to what we want to achieve with our intervention, makes everything meaningful.

    I consider that the CAC work way allows one to discover how to coach from one’s own abilities, as well as use appropriate methodology to form and create from that a space. At the beginning I was happily thinking about what was the right way, how should I do it, and what were the structure and steps, since I thought there was only one way to do it. After observing the dynamics that occurred in classes, the different alternatives and creations that the participants themselves proposed, I realized that the ways in which a coach can carry an activity are infinite and valuable.

    The workshops in Antofagasta were incredible, it surprised me that in front of the same stimulus, as a game, the dynamics during the game and the reflection later may be so different from what we experienced in Santiago. The variants that the same group of participants proposed and the reflections and thoughts that were shared in the space configured a unique experience that belongs to that particular human group, which I consider a simply wonderful part of CAC. The sport and game are really deep and wise tools, which despite being present daily in what we do at Futbol Mas will never fail to surprise me. The emotional climate they generate, how they invite to participate and feel comfortable with people they just met is great. They did so in a way that was ridiculous, laughing and looking at us, with the same freedom with which children do.

    Each game has a purpose, a sense, and some space to add variants and invite participants to create, allowing immediately for a horizontal relationship. If a proposed variant does not work, it is taken as an opportunity to analyze and ask questions and thus build deeper learning.

    Within the session there are some questions that can guide participants about where we want to reach with that conversation, which does not mean that there are correct or incorrect answers but there is merely a space where we can create questions. I love the flexibility of proposals, their simplicity and depth, less was more this week.

    Many times as adults and professionals we can identify different human and social issues that we consider so important as to talk and put on the table, such as gender equity, sexual health and immigration among other things. As tutors, we have the mission of creating spaces of discussion, of questioning, to know what they think, and to invite them to have a conscious understanding in front of the reality of the context. Both with the children we work with and with their communities this is important. Many times we do not find the ways that invite participation, we feel uncomfortable for what it costs us to generate a space where others feel comfortable, with the confidence to participate and share their thoughts, where everyone respects each other’s opinion. We aimed to generate a healthy discussion space. That is one of the things I learned with CAC, through concrete activities and games we can open the space to deepen the contingency due to the program’s richness in symbolism and metaphors.

     

  • Oh The Things To Do In Juarez

    April 18, 2017. Process Consultant Emily Kruger reflects on the week with CAC partner Fundación PDN in Juarez, Mexico.

    Exploring the modern children’s museum, check.
    Exquisite breakfast with Board Members, check!
    Meeting with the local men’s professional club, check!!
    On camera interview, check!!!
    20-minute presentation at the “Impact Hub” in front of a live audience…check?!
    Tasting tequila in the bar where the “margarita” first got its name…check?!?

    Did I mention that we worked with 40 participants, introducing them to CAC’s sport for social impact curriculum and Self-Directed Learning methodology?

    What an incredible whirlwind of a week! Luckily our hosts were logistical wizards, calmly whisking us from place to place with laughter in between. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of these highlights.

    La Rodadora, children’s museum, (let’s be real, this is play time for adults too!) in the center of Juarez, was built in 2004 as a space for families and communities to gather, play, and learn together. I had never thought of a museum as a place CAC would find such similarities, but of course it is: “Education Outside the Classroom”…obviously! A few leaders from the museum attended our training, and they were excited to bring CAC games and Self-Directed Learning into their work with youth and families at the museum.

    FC Bravos is the newest iteration of a men’s professional soccer club in Juarez and so far they have seen huge success in terms of community support. From the get-go, the club has prioritized the community over results. Their primary goal has been to bring something beautiful to Ciudad Juarez, something the city can be proud of and rally behind together. From the Chief Exec to the Marketing Director to the coaching staff and players, the organization is committed to being a staple of the city, not just a professional sports team looking for more money and fame. After having dinner with two representatives from the club, they brought a handful of the players to our “Hub Talk” as they wanted to learn more about CAC and how they might be able to get involved with the teachers and schools who we worked with!

    Which brings me to my final highlight of the week, the Hub Talk. When Fundacion first asked Mark and I to speak at a TED Talk-esque event, we were excited and jumped at the opportunity. Then, as the day drew near, we realized what we had gotten ourselves into and became much more nervous than excited, especially because we thought we might have to deliver it in Spanish! When they assured us that we could speak in English, some of our nerves were calmed but still, neither one of us had ever had an experience quite like that. We spent hours planning what we would say and how we would deliver it so it would not be standard and boring. We agreed that the best way to make it interesting (and make ourselves feel way more comfortable) was to do what we do best, lead an example of a CAC game! In the end, we felt prepared and absolutely loved speaking to the crowd (and the live video feed). What an honor to to be given such a platform to share our stories from CAC! Thanks again to everyone we met in Juarez for showing us such a lovely week!

  • Crossing Borders, Finding Home

    April 13, 2017. Emily Kruger continues on working with FESAC in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico after time in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Mexico (Part 1).

    PART 2: Home

    We found ourselves in Nogales after a full day’s bus journey north, from one end of the Mexican state of Sonora to another. We traveled so far north, in fact, that we were basically in the United States. Within moments of arriving, our host Alma was describing the unique nature of a city on the U.S-Mexican border. She told us how in the morning we would notice the difference between the homes on the hillside of Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona. Our historic hotel sat on the main strip of downtown, imagine Old Town in classic “Westerns”, with a view of this hill and the jarring wall that splits the hill into two sides. We spent some of Sunday just watching the flow of traffic through border patrol, people’s cars being searched inside and out, some with search dogs. The line to go across into the U.S. was backed up quite long and seemed like it would take hours to get through.

    On the way to the field on Monday morning, Alma mentioned that many of the kids in the local public schools are in families that are transient, as they are either hoping to cross into the U.S. after traveling many miles through all of Mexico or they have just recently “returned” to Mexico from the U.S. I thought of the difficulty of feeling at home when your life is always being re-located. Once we were on-field with the new group of 50 enthusiastic and creative P.E. teachers, we learned more and more about the unique issues to Nogales that differed from those in Hermosillo and Obregon: drug trafficking, lack of economic opportunity, and the ever-changing make up of schools with children from transient families due to migration and deportation. They told us stories of kids coming to class without having had breakfast, of parents involved in drug trafficking because it is a lucrative job option, and of Mexican-American kids who do not speak Spanish being isolated and excluded at school.

    Through conversations provoked by CAC games we dug deeper into these issues: why these issues exist, is this the reality that must be, and what they can do as teaches to best support their students. Notably, “Muro de Trump” brought up a discussion about misconceptions their students and the parents might have and how lack of information hurts them. There was a resounding sentiment that people in Mexico believe in the “American Dream”, that they will make money, be safe, and create opportunities for the future of their families in the U.S. The teachers were keen to adapt the game to discuss the reality of the difficulty of obtaining a visa (expensive and exclusive), and the likelihood of deportation and/or incarceration after crossing the border without one. They wanted to open their students’ eyes to the possibility of a better life in Mexico than in the U.S. because of the negative consequences of immigrating with or without a visa. They seemed to be excited about the prospect of playing the game with their students as a way to think about home and place.

    According to Alma and the teachers, if better job opportunities (outside of the drug-trafficking industry) existed in Mexico, then fewer of these families would leave their homes. I wonder if less Mexican families left to the U.S. if they might be able to organize to make change in their home. It’s obviously much more complicated than that, but it brings me back to my belief that I am best served affecting change in the communities I come from. We all know that the consumer dollars, federal and state policies, and attitudes towards immigration, borders, immigrants (humans) that belong to people born in the U.S. affect all of those things belonging to people born in other countries, especially in Mexico.

    Perhaps I’ll play “Muro de Trump” with some PE teachers in the U.S. I wonder what we would learn about ourselves, borders, and home?

     Part 1: Borders

    We arrived in Ciudad Obregón after an incredible 4 days with the Physical Education teachers in Hermosillo, who set the bar very high for the three locations in our partnership with FESAC and SEC in Mexico. Within just a few minutes of Monday morning’s Circle of Friends, it was obvious that these 50 PE teachers would bring the same enthusiasm and creative thinking that enriched the week before. This meant another week with a special flare for a Year 2 program, where CAC could confidently share ownership of the week with the participants. When asked about creating and leading their own games, participants made it clear they wanted more responsibility than they took on last year.

    By Tuesday they were already working together to prepare the session for Wednesday. There were seven groups of 4-5 coaches, each one huddled around big sheets of paper on make-shift tables with markers in hand. We walked around and listened in as they collaborated: pointing, moving, deliberating, drawing, and re-drawing. Within 30 minutes, each group had a full sheet of paper with a diagram up top, description of how to play, and potential questions to ask while leading it. They were even checking the criteria: Are the games you created universally accessible? Is there space for problem solving and critical thinking by the students? Is there a social impact message integrated into the game? We asked if they would be ready to coach them the next day and there was a resounding “sí!” from everyone.

    My favorite game was called “Muro de Trump” or “Trump’s Wall”. They split the groups into four teams and asked each one to pick a Mexican city that borders the U.S. When the coaches called out a city, that team tried to “cross the border” without being tagged by the border control officers. They added ways to get through border control legally, like obtaining a visa i.e. a ball. This was such a creative, locally-relevant iteration of what I called “sharks and minnows” growing up. Considering it was a new idea, the coaches agreed that there was more to the metaphor that they are going to work out because they really want to use this game to talk with their students about the realities and dangers of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. For example, what are the consequences of being caught by border police without a visa? What might happen when you get to the other side? Why do people in Mexico want/need to live in the U.S.? There is so much here to dig into! Not only is it a dynamic game, but it also creates a space for some very important conversations between teachers and students here in Mexico.

    This game made me see immigration through the lens of people in Mexico. It will be an important conversation and reflection to continue as we travel to Nogales for our final week working with the Physical Education teachers of Sonora, Mexico!

  • Crossing Borders, Finding Home

    February 25, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Process Consultant, Emily Kruger writes about FESAC program in Obregón, Sonora, Mexico.

    Part 1: Borders

    We arrived in Ciudad Obregón after an incredible 4 days with the Physical Education teachers in Hermosillo, who set the bar very high for the three locations in our partnership with FESAC and SEC in Mexico. Within just a few minutes of Monday morning’s Circle of Friends, it was obvious that these 50 PE teachers would bring the same enthusiasm and creative thinking that enriched the week before. This meant another week with a special flare for a Year 2 program, where CAC could confidently share ownership of the week with the participants. When asked about creating and leading their own games, participants made it clear they wanted more responsibility than they took on last year.

    By Tuesday they were already working together to prepare the session for Wednesday. There were seven groups of 4-5 coaches, each one huddled around big sheets of paper on make-shift tables with markers in hand. We walked around and listened in as they collaborated: pointing, moving, deliberating, drawing, and re-drawing. Within 30 minutes, each group had a full sheet of paper with a diagram up top, description of how to play, and potential questions to ask while leading it. They were even checking the criteria: Are the games you created universally accessible? Is there space for problem solving and critical thinking by the students? Is there a social impact message integrated into the game? We asked if they would be ready to coach them the next day and there was a resounding “sí!” from everyone.

    My favorite game was called “Muro de Trump” or “Trump’s Wall”. They split the groups into four teams and asked each one to pick a Mexican city that borders the U.S. When the coaches called out a city, that team tried to “cross the border” without being tagged by the border control officers. They added ways to get through border control legally, like obtaining a visa i.e. a ball. This was such a creative, locally-relevant iteration of what I called “sharks and minnows” growing up. Considering it was a new idea, the coaches agreed that there was more to the metaphor that they are going to work out because they really want to use this game to talk with their students about the realities and dangers of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. For example, what are the consequences of being caught by border police without a visa? What might happen when you get to the other side? Why do people in Mexico want/need to live in the U.S.? There is so much here to dig into! Not only is it a dynamic game, but it also creates a space for some very important conversations between teachers and students here in Mexico.

    This game made me see immigration through the lens of people in Mexico. It will be an important conversation and reflection to continue as we travel to Nogales for our final week working with the Physical Education teachers of Sonora, Mexico!