I’ve always been interested in civic reflection without having the words to describe it. The idea of leading or participating in a dialogue is exhilarating enough that despite coming down with a cold, I stuck it out for the intensive, two-day training with the Center for Civic Reflection.
As an AmeriCorps member, I was thrilled to meet other members and reflect together on the meaning of our service, while building skills for helping others to think and talk about their service in a meaningful way.
One thing I noticed right away was that the training was not your standard classroom setting, but, as CCR Director, Adam Davis, said, “from reconfigured chairs…a live human experience.” It was a space where all chairs faced each other, where AmeriCorps members learned about and shared with one another. After participating in a “warm-up” model discussion, we broke into facilitation teams that led discussions the very same day and the next day. After each discussion led by my fellow trainees and me, we had a chance to debrief on what went well and what could be improved. It was extremely helpful to hear feedback.
The training itself was pure experience. It was structured so that we, the training participants, through leading and participating in civic reflection discussions could not only gain experience, but trouble-shoot issues that we faced while facilitating. Later, when I looked back at the neatly organized resources binder given to us by the CCR staff at the beginning of the training, I found similar comments and suggestions as the ones given to us during the training. I don’t consider this a coincidence, but rather, a sign of an incredibly clear, well thought-out training.
One thing I really learned to embrace at the CCR training is the importance of trusting the process. Trusting the trainers’ process and my fellow AmeriCorps members’ process allowed me to learn about civic reflection, others, and myself. The training made me feel empowered in a way I never could have just from trying civic reflection on my own or reading about it in a book.
-- Izabela Grobelna, Uniting America AmeriCorps Fellow at the Chicago Cultural Alliance