Friends of John William Education Center
Conflict Resolution Programs
AVP Advanced Workshop Graduation Photo
17 August 2000
On August 3rd, 2000 the team met in Ghana: Rachel Avery Harrison of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the religious Society of Friends (Quakers), coordinator; M. A. K. Momody, a facilitator of Alternatives to Violence program (AVP) Nigeria; Albertine Smit, a UN volunteer from the Netherlands (based in the Republic of Georgia, former Soviet Union), who has led AVP workshops in several countries and Marcel Kitissou, PhD., from Togo, Director of the Oswego State University PEACE Institute.
The combination of Africans, a European and an American provided a positive dynamic environment in which participants were open, honest, and able to reevaluate their own assumptions and habits.
The team facilitated a three-week-series of workshops for a group made up of parents, teachers, church leaders and other community people. The workshop format gave them an opportunity to build relationships and develop skills they can use with each other when every day conflicts arise. Stronger parent-teacher-community communication will enhance the students’ education and academic achievements. The plan from the beginning was to seed AVP in Ghana in such a manner that it might thrive indigenously, not always depending upon external funding.
The initial group of 27 was more than could be effective working in one group, so they split into two groups in hopes that everyone would return. Attrition is normal in each one's AVP community, and six participants did drop out over the course of the week, leaving the workshops with 9 participants in one group and 12 in the other. More than a dozen Ghanaians completed Basic, Advanced and Training for Trainers.
A second Basic Workshop was offered later for those who could not attend the first one.
Participants in the first Basic workshops initiated their own Light and Livelies of song and dance, which they were encouraged to continue.
While the team members had differing opinions on many subjects, they were in immediate unity on the decision that the Training for Trainers graduates were not yet prepared to lead workshops on their own. Though the facilitators who conducted the Training for Trainers were impressed with their first efforts, one concern is that their style may be extremely didactic. This suggests having at least two Ghanaians co-facilitate a few workshops with more experienced facilitators.
The group's empowerment and their positive feedback indicated that the AVP model had translated well to Ghanaian participants.
One of the goals held by the facilitators was to help workshop participants examine the violence they have experienced in their own lives. Among the experiences that were brought up were the treatment of children and sexism. For example, they used an exercise on the violence the participants have experienced in their families, from childhood until now. This is an exercise the Dutch facilitator uses in every Basic workshop she facilitates. Sexism particularly was discussed in role plays, and in exercises meant to observe and examine how people influence group decision-making.
Every participant of the Conflict Resolution program said they were satisfied about the course. Every member gained a new experience to cope with life. The day when one of the local facilitators would be invited outside Ghana to share their ideas will not only serve as a morale booster to other facilitators but also give a broader recognition to AVP in Ghana.
The PEACE Institute of Oswego State University and the Upper New York State AFSC are working to supplement technical support for what this young, growing school has to offer. They hope this is the initiation of a long term relationship between the international AVP community, the people of Ghana, and Oswego State University.
In AVP training it is usual for participants to pay for the training (which includes food) and materials. It was decided to support the participants and not to ask them to pay these costs.
About a dozen graduates of the training met monthly after the completion of the summer program, sharing ideas and continuing with training exercises.
The total amount raised for this project was $8431.56 and the costs in the summer of 2000 were $6285.46, leaving $2146.10 for the continuation of the project. Approximately $5500 was contributed by Scarsdale Friends meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), earmarked for this project.
Conflict resolution training, Summer 2001
This program had two phases.
From July 5 to July 24, the activities were conducted by Marcel Kitissou form Togo and Pauline Ginsberg, PhD., Associate Dean, Division of Health and Human Studies, Utica College of Syracuse University, Utica, New York.
Marcel Kitissou, one of the facilitators from the previous year, held small group planning sessions with the Ghanaians who had completed all three levels of training the previous year. Their goal was to plan for the development of (Alternatives to Violence) AVP in Ghana and specifically to plan for the workshops to be offered during the school vacation in August.
Pauline Ginsberg offered workshops for the staff on counseling students on career choices and on the development of peer mediation of conflicts amongst students.
From July 27 to August 12 Basic, Intermediate and Advances workshops in AVP are offered by Rachel Avery Harrison (continuing as coordinator for the second year), Hulda Opara and George Walumoli, experienced AVP trainers from Nigeria and Uganda, and Martha Sitel, experienced in AVP training and in Conflict Resolution amongst children. These workshops will allow the Ghanaians who completed all three levels of training in the previous year to serve apprenticeships with experienced trainers. With the help of the Ghanaians as translators, it will be possible to offer the training in local language of Twi as well as in English.
The estimated budget for this program is $6750.00 plus whatever the costs are for the volunteer to come from Uganda and be housed. In addition to the funds already raised, it was expected that funds received from Scarsdale Friends Meeting, the Purchase Quarter of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and other Friends would be sufficient to cover the cost of this program.
As funds were not raised as expected, John and Nana Randall and the John William Montessori School coffers supplied $2166 to make up the loss.
FJWEC is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization
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