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More on the Young People in Transition Project

Here is an update on the Young People in Transition Project:1 

The project is led by Jenny Sazama2 and organized by me. Shelley Friedmann3 coordinates the Younger Young People’s Transition Project (for young people transitioning to two-way counseling) that got started last year. Jonathan Smith4 organizes the allies in England.

The project began in 2006 and currently has twenty-nine pairs—sixteen in the United States, six in the Netherlands, five in England, one in Canada, and one in Spain. Most of the pairs are active, and about two thirds participate in the conference calls that Jenny hosts every six months.

These are the official pairs, who have let us know they are following our guidelines and who reach out for support. There may be others who operate informally. Each time the project is written about in Present Time, a few more people call asking for information or for assistance in setting up a pair.

There are currently about five people who are eager to be allies but who don’t have a young person to pair with. So far the young people have chosen an ally they already know. So the allies who are waiting to be in a pair are probably in an Area with few young people or are not connected enough to their RC Community. Jenny and I have encouraged them to build relationships with young people near where they are.

Sometimes a parent or other adult writes to us about a young person who will soon be going off to college and is not really connected with his or her RC Community at home. The adult has hopes that, in going away, the young person will become involved in a new RC Community or will have an ally. When it’s the adult rather than the young person who is hoping for an ally, the pairing hasn’t worked as well.

Also, we have found that the pairing works best when the ally understands that it’s his or her responsibility to “go after”5 the young person. The guidelines for the project state that because young people’s oppression is so hard, the ally is the one who is in charge of all the initiating and reaching out. However, it can be hard for the ally to keep doing this when the young person doesn’t respond for long periods of time. If the young person can initiate or respond at least sometimes, the partnership has a lot better chance of succeeding.

The goal is for the pair to have contact every single week, which is often really difficult. But there are some sturdy, fiercely loving, determined allies in this crew! Jenny encourages the allies to have the young person counsel them for some part of each conversation. Allies consistently report how significant, meaningful, and transformational the relationship is, both for the young person and for themselves.

Another goal of the partnership is to help the young people become connected to their new RC Community, or at least stay in contact with RCers while they are away at school. This has been somewhat successful.

It seems clear that the connection the young people have with their ally is a primary one and should not be underestimated. Sometimes it is the only connection they have with RC. While that’s better than falling away,6 it would be ideal if they could become connected to a new Community or remain more connected to their home Community.

In the one-hour conference calls, Jenny has people say a “new and good” relating to their partnership, then she shares some of her thinking about us as allies, and then we split the time.7 We get to hear her counsel everyone on all sorts of situations relating to being an ally. Jenny has an insightful mind and can often give a key direction to an ally, even in a short mini-session.

I do my best to organize these calls every six months. People need access to Jenny’s fine mind and to be referenced so they don’t feel alone with or discouraged about their role. The calls also happen in England, organized by Jonathan Smith, and the Netherlands, organized by Julia Kostelijk.8 

I think the next step is to remind Regional Reference Persons, and through them Area Reference Persons, that the project exists and that there may be young people in their Region or Area who could benefit from it. It would also be good to tell high-school-age people about it at workshops. And I think that Area Reference Persons of an ally should know about the role their Area member is playing. It is a significant piece of ally work and something that should be referenced by an Area Reference Person and the ally’s RC teacher, as well as by Jenny.

I hope this gives a picture of the project. If you’d like more information, just let me know!

Megan Lynes

Organizer for Jenny Sazama in the Allies to Young People in Transition Project

Bedford, Massachusetts

(Present Time 183, April 2016)

1 See previous article.
2 Jenny Sazama is the International Liberation Reference Person for Allies to Young People.
3 Shelley Friedmann is an RC leader in Rosendale, New York, USA.
4 Jonathan Smith is a Co-Counselor in Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, England.
5 “Go after” means reach out to.
6 “Falling away” means losing contact (with RC).
7 “Split the time” means take turns having everyone’s attention.
8 Julia Kostelijk is an RC leader in Nijmegen, Gelderland, the Netherlands.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00