Making More Connections!
Posted on 07/06/2010 @ 01:09 PM
Connections are our way of creating a live conversation between the work we are doing and the values that guide that work. The connection sessions are an opportunity for the site groups to process their experiences on site as well as view it through the lens of Jewish texts.
This session designed for the teenagers to think about what makes an Agent of Change. What drives them to fight for the change? Does that manifest itself in different ways across their lives? To start the session and get us thinking about these issues, we looked at three stories from Moses' life and asked about the range of qualities and personalities he exhibited during his lifetime—rash, confused, unidentified, passionate, advocate. The list was quite extensive and it showed us that being an agent of change requires the ability to know how and when to act as well as the ability to learn from our experiences.
Moving beyond the text to discussing our sites, the group had a very fruitful conversation about what one gains and sacrifices in order to be an agent of change, on whatever scale. One of the strongest drivers for striving to enact change in society is having a passion for what you are trying to accomplish. The group considered that without passion, you would never accept a non-profit's lower salary nor have the determination to overcome the barriers to change. One conclusion was that you need to open your eyes to what is around you and be passionate about the issue you then try to tackle.
At Impact Boston, we have experienced different communities in need. Hopefully, by this point we have begun to make relationships with both these communities and the people in them. In this session, we explored the idea of how we choose where we engage in service work. Why are none of the sites at Impact: Boston specifically Jewish? Does it matter? As Jews, what is our responsibility to our fellow Jews? To the rest of the world? In Connections 5 we dealt with the tension of choosing a Jewish organization over a non-Jewish one, and looked at a few different Jewish texts that helped us shape our ideas about how we prioritize what is important to us in terms of community service. The discussion was incredibly fruitful and everyone left pondering some very important questions. Everyone is going home with new perspectives on how we prioritize our resources when it comes to doing service work.
In this session, participants began to think about wrapping up their Impact: Boston experience. They reflected on the commitments they made to themselves during the course of their site work and took a step back to see all of their site work and the difference they made in the lives of people they directly engaged with, as well as people’s lives who will benefit from their work in the future. At the same time, they considered the implications of a well known Rabbinic verse: “It is not your duty to complete the work, neither are you free to withdraw from it.” Through this verse, participants discussed where they felt they had left their work at sites incomplete, or how they thought they may have been able to make a greater contribution through more extensive training or a broader knowledge base about issues. They also used this time to share general feelings about their last day on site and any lingering thoughts or questions they still had about their experiences.
On Shabbat, the teens were asked to tell a story about something that surprised them on site. The intention of the activity was to bring their minds back to the moment and reflect on their experience. The room was filled with lots of laughter and many sobering thoughts. One of the most profound moments was when a teen asked how she is to wrestle with the guilt of privilege compared to the individuals she interacted with throughout the week. This comment sparked more concerns, which were addressed accordingly by the teens themselves: never forget who you are or where you've come from but most importantly, always remember the moments you've experienced here at Impact: Boston. Wrestling with the frustration of how one needs to fix the world while living in middle-class America can be taxing on the brain. It was more than clear by the end of the conversation that brains were churning and hearts were pumping because everyone in the room was committed to making a difference in their communities upon their arrival home.