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Reflections on Facilitator Training

We have just finished facilitator training for Building Bridges Colorado, and we are tired but brimming with happy anticipation of the participants’ arrival. Last night, at our closing training circle, one facilitator mentioned that, at that very moment, our participants were at home, checking their packing lists, and wondering what in the world they got themselves into, and it was astonishing to consider, because we’d already been through so much.

In one week of training, we laughed together, cried together, learned, played and challenged each other. During facilitator training, we spend a few days experiencing the program, both so we are prepared to conduct the workshops, and to surface some of the assumptions and challenges that might cause tension between us. We also go over the curriculum, review and revise, practice facilitation, and much, much more.

It is as emotionally and intellectually stimulating as any other experience I’ve had. For me, this is my ninth Building Bridges facilitator training. I’ve had the pleasure of watching a team gel, and that humming, happy feeling when you realize that your team has your back. I thrive on the late-night slap happy laughing that makes your cheek muscles ache, and the curious pep of the morning people.

There is nothing quite like the community of a summer camp, and nothing at all like the community of Building Bridges.

This summer with the Colorado program, the work takes on a whole new dimension. In our culture, we don’t often talk about the differences that divide us. More often, we take them in stride, or pretend they don’t exist. We know that racism and classism and power and privilege are out there impacting our world, but we don’t often acknowledge how we play into those systems in big and small ways. We don’t talk about the how we are personally affected by those massive societal ills, or ask someone different from ourselves how those forces touch their lives.

Except at Building Bridges. That’s all we talk about. The experience is eye-opening and enlightening. For me, it’s a few weeks a year when the masks we all wear in order to function in daily life get to fall away, and we talk about our true lived experience. The best part is, those conversations serve to bring us closer together, rather than further apart. We learn how to make space around even the scariest, most hurtful truths, so we can examine where they come from and what purpose they serve.

And, when all that is done, the session closes, the facilitator makes the invitation to continue the conversation, and we get down to the business of building this warm, vibrant, truly inclusive community with the power to change the world.

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