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Southern Africa Teachers and Leaders

This weekend I led a Regional teachers’ and leaders’ workshop for Southern Africa. It had been a long while since we’d had one. I explained to people that the workshops I used to lead every year in the various Communities had not been effective. When I would go to a Community, it would be in exactly the same place it had been twelve months before, if not a worse place. There would be new people who had hardly done any fundamentals, which meant that we would do fundamentals over and over again. This was exhausting for me. It was also quite restimulating, because I blamed myself for not getting it right.

I had to figure out what it meant to be a Regional Reference Person. I consulted with the International Reference Person, who encouraged me to concentrate on building a good support base for myself. I needed people who could think well about me and help me discharge. This took several years. During this period I was able to make a few observations, which I shared with the workshop:

Most of the leaders in the Region have the same challenges. They are committed people who have not figured out how to make their groups meet consistently, discharge consistently, and go through the entire Fundamentals Manual.

One of the biggest pitfalls is their sense of urgency. They want to make sure that as many people as possible know about RC, so they end up taking too many people into a class. That was me not so long ago. I reached out to as many people as possible to let them know about this jewel I had stumbled on* : the benign reality. I thought that if I taught as many people as I could about it, the world was sure to be a better place.

I know now that this never works—not if you are building a Community. There is little consistency in class attendance, and new people are always allowed to join. The class never really becomes a class, since the teacher always has to repeat the lessons. A lot of people are introduced to RC, but they never have a full fundamentals class. Thus the Community’s overall understanding of RC theory is low. And with too many people in a class, there is little or no opportunity for real connections.

We raise people’s expectations when we teach about the benign reality, but when people get restimulated, we do not have the resources to effectively contradict their distress. Thus their discouragement comes up and they leave the Community.

I have found that it is hard if not impossible for people to hear me when I say that large classes do not work. The cure has been to have lots and lots of contact with the teachers. Then I can help them discharge after every failed class until they figure out that large classes with limited potential for real relationships are probably not the smartest choice. This has worked marvelously.

One of the things I set out to do at the workshop was to let the teachers feel how good it is to be a part of a solid Community. Some things cannot be explained; they need to be experienced. The workshop was characterized by lots of playing and singing, and there was enough time for sessions. We also had support groups in which the more experienced people were assistant leaders. Generally everybody had a good time.

About half the people at the workshop were from my Community. I was hoping they would make connections with the people from the other Communities, so that I would have at least one other person thinking about each of the leaders. I have come to accept that I cannot do this work alone. If I am going to help build solid Communities, I need as many people as possible committed to doing it with me.

Bafana Matsebula

Regional Reference Person for Southern Africa

Mbabane, Hhohho, Swaziland

(Present Time 183, April 2016)

* “Stumbled on” means accidentally encountered.

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