Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ga go na "nna" mo "teame"

Dec 7, 2011, a camp with youth. Teaching them to work together-- actually, learning that the lesson will have to be more basic than that: work. Complaints that the activity is too hard, that the challenges were set up incorrectly, that we are not telling them how to succeed. The work is too dirty, we haven't been provided with tea, we're too tired, and my personal favorite, I haven't dressed correctly for this exercise, you didn't tell me to. Lesson #2: life is hard-- obstacles to what they want to achieve will be much larger than a gum pole, much heavier than a rock, much more difficult to maneuver through than a couple of ropes and a tire swing. To succeed, they will have to get dirtier, make more sacrifices, fail more often, and stop pointing fingers at those too meek to defend themselves. Day 2, 11 AM: Question posed. Change your attitude and keep going, or end this now? Commit, or walk away? I want to tell them, this is their choice. Don't do this to please me. This is not my mandate, not my community, not my life. Whether they succeed or fail has no consequence on me. This is not my fight. But instead, I keep my mouth shut as the facilitator brings each team member down notch by notch. Exposing their egos until they are forced to themselves as they are. Forced to decide: do I change, or do I go? Day 3, 6PM. A truck appears at the campsite with 3 young boys blasting music with wide grins. Thinking they can come crash our party for some free food and a tent to sleep in. I watch as the team's egos abruptly return, eager to please the young visitors. I send them home. The next day, I get a rude visit from the young driver I sent home and some youth, my youth. He's angry because I refused to pay for his little visit yesterday, that I told his boss about his rude behavior. I am given a verbal slashing, each of my questions met with more excuses, excuses so large I can feel the weight of them clamping my brain shut. Without the security and isolation of a remote camping ground, I can find no confidence to fight back. I lose face in front of the youth, my youth. I gesture with my arms. They point fingers at me, at the boss, at the facilitator. Finally I've had enough, take it up with your boss, this has nothing to do with me. Just get the hell out of here. As the truck drives away, I turn and punch the air with my fists. This is not my fight.

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