Energy, exhaustion and excitement filled my body, brain and spirit as I returned home last Friday afternoon after a week-long STAR II training on the campus at Eastern Mennonite University.
The excitement was from finishing another successful training and hearing the action plans of the participants that morning outlining how they planned to use the STAR materials in their particular context. A Ugandan participant commented as she left, “This is the first program I’ve found that gives people the opportunity to learn from their own stories and experience – it is usually all based on theories.” Her dream is to integrate STAR into the pre-service and in-service trainings for Peace Corps volunteers in East Africa, particularly those working in post-conflict countries.
The exhaustion was due to the additional stress of a head cold while training as well as the fact that this was the third STAR II training I had facilitated in less than five months – one in Spanish in Bolivia, one in Creole in Haiti and one in English at EMU. Training in Creole via an interpreter was an additional stressor. Nevertheless, it really felt worth it when a Haitian participant told us one night at dinner that “many resources have been flown into Haiti since the earthquake a year ago, but most just flow on out. STAR came and it will stay here.”
The energy comes from all the STAR groups I have the opportunity to work with and witnessing the personal change that happens in a short period of time. It is equally energizing to hear their aspirations for using this training to change society. A Bolivian participant recently explained, “Processing trauma has a lot to do with conflict transformation. The existence of trauma often leads us to paint the ’other’ as the enemy and keeps us from advancing. Look at the collective traumas of the Bolivian people and how we view each ’other.’ The model we’ve learned in STAR will be very important in our work of intervention in specific conflict situations here.”
Excitement, exhaustion, and energy… The journey continues to break cycles of violence and build resilience in individuals and communities!