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Nonviolence Workshop Attendees Take a Solid Stance

May 4, 2008 — A handful of St. Thomians added new tools to their conflict resolution tool kits Sunday in an Alternative to Violence Project workshop at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.
Five community members attended this weekend's workshop. This is the second time the AVP workshop has been held on St. Thomas.
Several of the attendees had heard about the workshop through their affiliation with the Rotary Club.
The workshop, born out of a 35-year collaboration between prison inmates and Quakers, is a series of activities and exercises designed to teach the fundamentals of affirmation, developing community, improving communication, cooperation, trust building and conflict resolution.
The residents attending the seminar over the weekend were not those perpetrating violence. Keys said that typically, the program reaches violent offenders after they are incarcerated.
Attendees came for a variety of reasons.
The Rev. Thembalethu G. Mkhabela, called Pastor Themba, is pastor of the church. Themba explained that in subtle ways we all contribute to peace and harmony in our relationships in families.
Themba hoped that those who attended might become trainers who could in turn teach young people in the community.
"That way when children go out into the world, hopefully they will know how to react to conflict," said Pastor Themba.
"We prepare our children for everything else, but this is one area we just have not dealt with: crime, violence and conflict. It seems to be becoming a bigger problem in the Virgin Islands and we need to prepare our children so that they do not also become violent," Themba said.
"We came because we are interested in learning about this kind of dialog. In our retirement we might be able to help teach young people some of these skills," said Barbara Archibald. She attended with her husband, Tom Archibald, who learned of the program through Rotary.
She said that she found the workshop useful for anger management and learned a few more techniques for her personal life.
Workshop participants learned how to communicate in ways that do not bring out defensive behavior in the people with whom they are talking.
That is not about being passive or wimpy, according to Carolyn Keys. Keys, one of the workshop co-facilitators, taught the participants how to employ "I" messages and body language to get their point across, rather than using accusatory phrases that elicit undesirable responses.
"Stand firmly, not threateningly," Keys instructed the participants as she demonstrated the correct stance.
"Nonviolence is about taking a position and standing firm — not about being passive. You need to have a good, strong solid stance," Keys said. She explained that the stance should convey the feeling that one has come to a decision that what we are doing is right.
Keys also explained that some body language might work in some cultures, might not work in others.
"Some cultures are taught not to look a superior in the eye. So be sensitive to this." Keys cautioned.
Keys stressed the importance of seeing the good in the person on the other side of the conflict, and to be speaking to that part of the person when you were discussing your conflict.
St. Thomas' first AVP workshop, held earlier this year for fifth and sixth graders at the Jane E. Tuitt Elementary School, had measurable results, according to school principal Lisa Forde. She noted fewer disciplinary actions and greater tolerance for each others' moods among the students.
Three more AVP workshops are scheduled for St. Thomas. Another basic AVP workshop will be held on June 27-29, an advanced level workshop is scheduled for July 11-13 and workshop facilitators training will be held July 25-27. For more information please contact Nycole Thompson at (340) 277-7037 or Judy Gumbs at (340) 690-0695.
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May 4, 2008 -- A handful of St. Thomians added new tools to their conflict resolution tool kits Sunday in an Alternative to Violence Project workshop at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.
Five community members attended this weekend's workshop. This is the second time the AVP workshop has been held on St. Thomas.
Several of the attendees had heard about the workshop through their affiliation with the Rotary Club.
The workshop, born out of a 35-year collaboration between prison inmates and Quakers, is a series of activities and exercises designed to teach the fundamentals of affirmation, developing community, improving communication, cooperation, trust building and conflict resolution.
The residents attending the seminar over the weekend were not those perpetrating violence. Keys said that typically, the program reaches violent offenders after they are incarcerated.
Attendees came for a variety of reasons.
The Rev. Thembalethu G. Mkhabela, called Pastor Themba, is pastor of the church. Themba explained that in subtle ways we all contribute to peace and harmony in our relationships in families.
Themba hoped that those who attended might become trainers who could in turn teach young people in the community.
"That way when children go out into the world, hopefully they will know how to react to conflict," said Pastor Themba.
"We prepare our children for everything else, but this is one area we just have not dealt with: crime, violence and conflict. It seems to be becoming a bigger problem in the Virgin Islands and we need to prepare our children so that they do not also become violent," Themba said.
"We came because we are interested in learning about this kind of dialog. In our retirement we might be able to help teach young people some of these skills," said Barbara Archibald. She attended with her husband, Tom Archibald, who learned of the program through Rotary.
She said that she found the workshop useful for anger management and learned a few more techniques for her personal life.
Workshop participants learned how to communicate in ways that do not bring out defensive behavior in the people with whom they are talking.
That is not about being passive or wimpy, according to Carolyn Keys. Keys, one of the workshop co-facilitators, taught the participants how to employ "I" messages and body language to get their point across, rather than using accusatory phrases that elicit undesirable responses.
"Stand firmly, not threateningly," Keys instructed the participants as she demonstrated the correct stance.
"Nonviolence is about taking a position and standing firm -- not about being passive. You need to have a good, strong solid stance," Keys said. She explained that the stance should convey the feeling that one has come to a decision that what we are doing is right.
Keys also explained that some body language might work in some cultures, might not work in others.
"Some cultures are taught not to look a superior in the eye. So be sensitive to this." Keys cautioned.
Keys stressed the importance of seeing the good in the person on the other side of the conflict, and to be speaking to that part of the person when you were discussing your conflict.
St. Thomas' first AVP workshop, held earlier this year for fifth and sixth graders at the Jane E. Tuitt Elementary School, had measurable results, according to school principal Lisa Forde. She noted fewer disciplinary actions and greater tolerance for each others' moods among the students.
Three more AVP workshops are scheduled for St. Thomas. Another basic AVP workshop will be held on June 27-29, an advanced level workshop is scheduled for July 11-13 and workshop facilitators training will be held July 25-27. For more information please contact Nycole Thompson at (340) 277-7037 or Judy Gumbs at (340) 690-0695.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.