I was invited to the Agile Learning Facilitation training that Educambiando hosted in December of 2017 in Veracruz, Mexico. After months of tending my language-barrier worries with serious study sessions and my leaving-school-for-over-a-week worries by getting ahead on paperwork while my spawn practiced running things without me, I headed off on my first international trip since 2012. The ALC I landed at looked a little different than my East Harlem homebase…
Ever since falling deep into Godel, Escher, Bach as a teenager, I’ve delighted in moments when it’s clear the world around me is presenting variations on a theme. Across ALCs, there’s rich diversity of people, settings, and languages informing each community’s culture. At the same time, sharing principles and frameworks means some elements feel familiar across all kinds of distances. Even though my Spanish was really basic, I recognized tools, the flow of the training, and the delightful vibrance of the local facilitator team.
The training facilitators offered classic sessions on communication, the science of learning, finite and infinite games, ALC principles, conflict, parent worries, and culture shifting. We played group coherence games, some I recognized and some I was excited to learn.
Then once the kids showed up there were also offerings like Chiquita beadwork, theater, chorus, dance, recycling tricks, shadow work, animal communication, soccer, acro-balance, and jungle walks:
I facilitated and co-facilitated a few sessions, with a lot of help from bilingual community members. I had to bow out of facilitating Change-Up, because my understanding of Spanish was too limited for me to listen as deeply to the nuances of and feelings under the group’s conversation than I needed to in order to effectively facilitate. There were also moments where the group drew tools illustrating time differently than how I’m used to illustrating it, work-shopped how to overcome a fear of direct communication that they recognized as part of navigating a legacy of colonialism, strategized applying what they were learning to make relief efforts after environmental disasters more effective, and explored how cultural norms and power dynamics impacted their attempts to build ALC communities…moments where I just listened, wondering about how our worlds are so similar and so different at the same time.
Noticeably different from our ALC-NYC trainings [other than the presence of green space] was how the amount of space available meant adults often ended up congregating separate from the kids unless they intentionally moved to do otherwise I was having a lot of feelings after news of a bomb back in NYC, so I dosed myself with ample baby + toddler time.
Much of the flow of the program, facilitator team planning sessions, and participant styles of participating were similar to what I’ve seen at other trainings, which was cool. Having a different facilitator team meant folks offering different expertise, which I learned a lot and felt a lot of joy from experiencing. The gut sense I’ve had for a while that there’s a lot of value in facilitator exchanges was just affirmed again and again on this trip.
Heading home, I was really grateful for my earlier adventures in travelling and language-learning, which were full of lessons I find helpful now but didn’t even realize at the time I was learning. I felt grateful for the invitation to visit, for the kindness of everyone I’d met, for the beauty of Veracruz, and for being gifted questions I hadn’t sat with before. Moving forward, I am excited about about the possibility in some of the new relationships I nurtured with facilitators and families who were at the training. I also had a blast co-facilitating with Rubén, and I can’t wait to do that again soon.