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alesnick's picture

Ways of Communicating

This week I have had two meetings with the Fellows -- one as a whole group, and one with an individual to further define her project proposal.  Each was an hourlong conversation, and each was wonderful.  With the whole group meeting, I asked if each person would start by sharing something they want me to know, then the asked for a time to share what has been happening in their fellowships.  We ended with basic check-ins -- food, water, health, group coordination. 

One of the themes that emerged during our discussion was the importance, and challenge, in this work of balancing a degree of urgency/forward motion with openness to what happens and what is emergent. As humans we move in the world through particularity -- a given body, a body politic, specific histories, languages, stories, plans.  We can't tell all stories at once -- we expand stories via changing them, and creating new ones, not by blurring the lines between them. On the other hand, when we get too fused to a given anything -- self, body, story -- our creativity is blocked and we lose the capacity for generative surrender.  We stop learning.  We need also to move fluidly.  This is a real challenge in the BiCo Dalun Fellowship project, in that fellows are asked to develop a project gradually based on working with people, and grounded in a shared desire to move from strength to strength -- not to offer help in a deficit-oriented spirit.  Doing this depends on a subtle theory of change, and, more deeply, a degree of trust.

I reminded the fellows that their work this summer has a micro dimension -- their specific activities -- and a macro dimension -- the impact their presence and activities have on the community and on the continuity of the Bico-Dalun relationship.  The one must be strong enough to support the other.  And then, as I said, some of the most important things that may happen cannot be named, let alone counted. 

This is the first time I have heard our fellows talk about the frustration of not knowing enough Dagbani to converse easily with people, without a translator, in the community. I take this as a good sign.  Brandon also had good ideas when I spoke with him for getting more out of the thrice-weekly Dagbani lessons.


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