My Most Valuable Experience
June 25th, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Ntethelelo Ngobese, joins Self-Directed Learning Educator, Markus Bensch from Coaches Across Continents, on-field in Zimbabwe and South Africa with CAC Community Partner World Parks, World Cup.
“Sports have the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create hope, where there was once only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. Sports is the game of lovers.” NELSON MANDELA
After reading this quotes from the late president, Nelson Mandela, I was inspired to use sport as a social impact tool to respond to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in my community. From the sport experience I had, I was not confident enough to implement education outside classroom, and feared I would not be able to use sport for social impact. This all changed after I joined Coaches Across Continents (CAC).
I was just on-field as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) in partnership with Friends of Mutale located in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Through CIC program, I have gained massive experience and confidence to implement Education Outside the Classroom, to work with people from different backgrounds with differing perspective and experience. It was also amazing to learn from others culture.
During the first week in Zimbabwe, I learned how to introduce CAC’s Education Outside the Classroom to the people who have never received this kind of education as well as work with those who have experience in the subject. Through interaction with the participants in Zimbabwe, I was also enabled to spot a perspective difference between people from my community and people from that area. I mean the way they’re outgoing and always looking forward to make things happen is unlike where I come from, where most people do not take initiatives to change lives or difficult situations. The people I met are more likely to sit down and criticise those that want to see change happening. This is leaving me with the task to make people aware that taking initiatives is the best thing they can do! I will achieve this through series of strategic awareness campaigns upon my return home!
During the second week in Bende Mutale, I was more confident to implement education outside the classroom after my observation during the program in Zimbabwe. I learned to prepare for the session and to evaluate if the session has achieved its intended impact to the participants through coach backs and discussions, especially on the topi of Child Rights. Child Rights is a major focus for CAC and all of their partnerships around the world. Furthermore on chid rights, I observed that some cultural beliefs may violate children’s rights and thus some education must be done to make people aware of the child rights. Between the two communities, I also observed that most of the people are aware of the challenges they face in their communities and have solutions but do not implement them.
After gaining this experience I am even more confident to proceed with the implementation of the education outside the classroom in my community. I will do this by transferring the knowledge I have gained to my peers through series of trainings for coaches, teachers and other community members in order to work together towards the achievement of sport for social impact!
Chile, Cuatro Ciudades
April 27, 2018. Community Impact Coach Lina reflects on her on-field weeks working with CAC partner Futbol Mas in Chile, alongside the rest of the CAC team.
Iquique, Copiapó, Santiago y Concepción
Durante esta experiencia de dos semanas, puedo decir que tuvimos (Nora, Abby y yo) el privilegio de compartir con personas maravillosas de diferentes ciudades de Chile. En cada desplazamiento se observaba los contrastes en sus paisajes, las dunas, el mar, lo árido, lo verde, las montañas, el frio, el calor y esto se reflejó en la fuerza de su gente con el “exceso de pasión” para cada momento.
Durante las dos semanas pudimos trascender el deporte más allá de la alta competencia (Ganar/Perder), a través de juegos direccionados a temas de impacto social: inclusión, equidad, respeto al otro, interculturalidad, derechos humanos, educación sexual y medio ambiente. Al compartir metodologías se nos pueden abrir oportunidades para ampliar nuestra comprensión.
Gracias por hacerlo posible, CAC, Ask for Choice, Fútbol Más e Inder Medellín.
It’s Colombia not Columbia
December 15th, 2017. Nora Dooley writes about delivering ASK for Choice programs in Colombia with Community Partner Inder Alcaldía de Medellín, alongside Corporate Partners Nike, Postobón, GIZ, and Groupo Internacional de Paz, to close out a strong year working across the country for the rights of women and girls.
I treasure this moment of reflection. Four years after beginning my work with Coaches Across Continents, five years after graduating from Columbia University, I have spent more time in one country than any other: Colombia.
Working with CAC as a facilitator necessitates humility and a unique acceptance of the unknown. With our intention to challenge international NGO culture that designs development programs based on foreign knowledge of best practices (which can also be called white supremacy/ neo-colonialism), we must enter each community assuming and imposing nothing. Our job is to provide some structure through fun, play-based activities that stimulate group discussion, self-directed learning and collective problem-solving, and to support our partners as they create legacies for the social changes they want to see.
As little as I claim to know about this world, I can share some experiences – many of which I have enjoyed in Colombia with a faction of the large government organization, Inder Medellín.
Colombia is complicated. And even knowing more people and more facts about this country than most others, my U.S.-raised brain cannot imagine the depths of this complexity. I feel so fortunate, therefore, to have various and continuous opportunities to share time and space with Colombians invested in their community’s future.
Our work in Colombia throughout 2017 was bolstered by the social responsibility efforts of Nike and Postobón. This programming, centered on our ASK for Choice program which uses play to develop Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge to inform choices for women, men, and communities, caught some welcome attention. We spent a week north of Bogotá sharing with the GIZ sponsored program in collaboration with CAC partner, Grupo Internacional de Paz, and then returned to Medellín to learn more alongside humans I am lucky to call friends at Inder.
During this training with representatives from Inder’s ‘Deporte, Convivencia y Paz’ and ‘Cultura D’ teams, we focused on gender, problem-solving, game adaptation and creation, challenging and transforming the cultures we want to change, and the vast possibilities available inside the lines of the sports field to address all that lives beyond it.
I feel so grateful for CAC’s strong partnership with Inder, for my Paisa family, and for the experience (and wisdom?) to know – at least in my life – that it most definitely is Colombia, not Columbia.
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.
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.