Joanna, Fatima and I had a meeting to determine how the relationship between Speak Street and CAP was progressing. On our agenda was to find out how she was feeling about CAPs involvement in the program, the integration of our volunteers, and what we wanted to build on going ahead, specifically on the subject of “sensitive subjects”.
When asked about CAPs volunteers, Joanna said she was “overwhelmed” by the response she had had, and the quantity and quality of volunteers. She only had positive words for all of us, how well and how quickly we had integrated into the group, and how much the support was appreciated! Well done team!
Initially, Joanna was concerned about number of volunteers being too great, not wishing for anyone to feel underutilised or bored, though now coming up closer to a 1-1 ratio, the students are able to focus and move along faster with their tasks worksheets.
With regards to the new volunteers, two new support mechanisms were generated. First, a short debrief at the end of every session between the volunteers to air their concerns, to discuss any situations that arose and to share their thoughts and feelings on the session. This brings us closer together as well as trains and supports the volunteers. The second was for a more formal training session, which will take place on the 14th November.
The question of sensitive subjects was also raised. In the other blog posts, many examples of these can be found.
This was a 2 pronged discussion, firstly, on how to deal with offensive and insensitive statements made by the students when in conversation, and secondly, on what the true purpose of these sessions were; to teach English, or to help integrate the students more fully into society – by aligning their ideas about these sensitive subjects (e.g gender, religion, sexism, relationships, alcohol, racism) more with their host culture. Our approach cannot be forceful, i.e a lecture given about “Womens issues” for example, as this would belittle and disenfranchise our students. However, the conversations must still be had, as we’ve seen from our experience that some untoward beliefs are held by some of the students which need to be addressed. A subtler approach would be to include a leading question in some of the worksheets – an unintended example of this would be the question we saw: “You and your wife are going through a rough patch, how do you resolve this”, and allow the discussion to flow.
Ultimately, we found out that both organisations were very much on the same page with how we wished to proceed, what our objectives are with this project and how we felt we were progressing as a team. Thank you everyone for your continued work, bring on next the next session!