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Racism and the Collapsing Society, Barbara Love and Tim Jackins, June 7, 2020

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An Important Milestone

Last November I had the opportunity of a lifetime to take part1 in the International Young Adult Teachers’ and Leaders’ Workshop. It was a memorable and important milestone in my life.

My struggle all these years to get a visa paid off. I hadn’t even stayed outside my city for a week, but to attend this workshop I spent more than a week outside my country. It was the first time I had travelled in flight to a foreign country. I felt no fear; nothing bothered me. All I wanted was to be at the workshop.

I was looking forward to making connections with young adults from across the globe, but as soon as I entered the workshop, I felt awkward. Except for Tim,2 everyone was a stranger to me, and it looked like they all knew each other. Then, thankfully, I found one face that was familiar. It felt like discovering an oasis in a desert. Later the organizer and her assistants came and spoke to me.

After the workshop introductions, I gradually dared to reach for people I didn’t know. All the differences among us were coming to my mind, but I kept on reminding myself of three things we had in common: we were all humans, RCers, and young adults.

Tim and Emily’s3 talk about capitalism and how it has become part of young adults’ material4 was wonderful. I loved the way Tim supported Emily and stood by her; it was an amazing model of leadership in RC.

Though I had organized many workshops in India, I loved the way the organizer and her team coordinated and functioned at the workshop. It was teamwork—one for all, and all for one.

There was interpreting in front of the whole group and whisper interpreting around the room. I had the chance to interpret into my mother tongue up front. I could feel the effect of language oppression—how English has been dominating all other languages.

We did physical counseling5 sessions. It was nice to know that a person who is small can try physical counseling with a large person.

There were several topic groups and topic tables, including ones for people of the global majority, Asian-heritage people, and teachers in the wide world. At one of the dinner tables a few of us women started chatting and making fun about our crushes6 at the workshop. It turned out to be7 one of the best topic tables. We had a lot of laughter, fun, and enjoyment, and our connections became much stronger.

At a celebration of Shabbat,8 the Jews sang songs and talked about anti-Jewish oppression. It opened my eyes to how each group is targeted in one way or another and how badly we are separated and isolated.

I wanted to build a strong, lifetime connection with everyone at the workshop, but the workshop was coming to an end and I still had to reach many people. I started feeling sad. It was as if before I could even say hi to some people, I had to say ’bye.9 Tim spoke about building connections—what is workable and not workable—and suggested we make a connection with at least five people at the workshop and take their picture. It made a lot of sense to me. I realized that our oppressions drive us “crazy” in regard to relationships. After listening to Tim, I felt okay and could stay with reality. I knew who those five people were that I wanted to take with me forever.

My awkward feelings faded, and I could see how much we liked each other and how interesting we were to each other. By that night, people had become very close. We played a lot, sang, and danced. Though it was 2:00 AM, still we were singing, dancing, chatting, and having fun. I led the group in some dancing, which I had never thought I would be able to do.

I realized that night that that is how we want to be: together, close, having a lot of fun, enjoying living, and having big lives. But young adult oppression keeps us away from play and fun and makes us feel like we need to be “responsible” and serious. In the name of making us independent, it pushes us into isolation. If it can have such an impact on young adults who are blessed with being able to discharge, how disastrous it must be for non-RCers. I decided that irrespective of whether I bring a lot of people into the RC Community or not, I should surely make RC ideas accessible to as many young people and young adults as possible.

On the last day of the workshop, I made it a point to share10 with the people with whom I had built a connection how beautiful and important it was for me. It was awesome to acknowledge and appreciate the support and love. Adults think we youngsters are confused about relationships, but actually we have better clarity. Relationships matter the most to us.

I am sure all of us are going to cherish this workshop and the connections we made. I feel like it was worth all the struggles and challenges. In fact, I am worth this wonderful experience.

S.J. Shashikala (Shashi)
Bangalore, India


1 “Take part” means participate.
2 Tim Jackins
3 Emily Bloch, the International Liberation Reference Person for Young Adults and the leader, with Tim Jackins, of the workshop
4 “Material” means distress.
5 “Physical counseling” is counseling in which a counselor, who has been trained to do it, provides aware and thoughtful physical resistance for a client to push and fight against.
6 “Crushes” are infatuations.
7 “Turned out to be” means resulted in being.
8 Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath. It is a tradition at RC workshops for the whole workshop to celebrate Shabbat on Friday evening, as a contradiction to anti-Jewish oppression.
“Bye” means goodbye.
10 “Made it a point to share” means deliberately shared.

 


Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00