- Yalom, Corey & Corey and Tuckman’s theories about group therapy and process
- Paulo Freire’s ideas on critical pedagogy
- David Schnarch’s Crucible Approach to growth and intimacy
- The Stages of group development
- The Therapeutic Factors of Group Therapy
- The Dimensions of the Leader’s Role
- Just being in a new culture and outside your nation of origin
- Independent people being part of a group
- Food differences
- Language differences
- Health (Damn you Montezuma!!!)
Immersion faculty and Transparency vs. Opaqueness
I have never found the perfect "middle path" between transparency and opaqueness in my role as a leader of immersion programs. I want to come from a Critical Education perspective that questions the normal boundaries or the tendency for faculty to take a one-up position. A couple of quotes that capture this idea:
- When is "exposing who I am" NOT helpful?
- Twelve years ago I remember getting feedback from students I taught in Irvine that it was odd to see me without a tie.
- I remember a more senior faculty member telling me the immersion students were calling me “Jason.”
- I ran the immersion program in Mexico for several years without other faculty and we did a temezcal each year. When I brought faculty for the first time several of them did not want to do it because it they weren’t comfortable taking their shirt off in front of students. Afterward I was sad that something I had only thought of as beautiful and meaningful as possibly being considered something else.
- I’ve brought my nephew, who I love so much and to whom I am very close, to the past two immersion programs. I notice the immersion folks observing this family relationship. Is that okay to open up to them?
- Is sharing a not so private outhouse and sleeping on the same cement school house floor inappropriate? Participants see me sleeping on the bus, we camp out together. I’ve invited them into my home sometimes for events.
- What about when I am working with participants whose challenge is respecting appropriate boundaries?
- What should be done when people are confusing the educational intimacy with romantic intimacy?
- Is it more risky for a single male to be engaged in critical approaches to education than it is for married men or women?
Skip to 3:50 in this video and listen to Critical Educators Peter Mclaren & Nathalia Jaramillo. Does wanting to draw from Paulo Freire's work lead to job insecurity?
I have two groups of students during the summer. The visiting immersion students and local students who are here in Mexico for two years. What are the different needs of these two groups and how do I better meet them? I think the local students get the short end of the stick in some ways. The immersion students pay a program fee that allows me to set up tons of activities and speakers and experiences. I have no budget to provide the same level of activities for local students. There is so much value in mixing the two groups though. They have a lot to learn from each other. It is also an incredible networking opportunity for both groups. Every year there is some tension between the groups. How could I change that?
What did people learn about El Salvador, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil this summer? Is just connecting people across national lines enough.
I realized more than ever before this year how many unintentional people are impacted by the program. The cleaning ladies. The home stay families. The Spanish instructors. The other students studying on the campus. The librarian. The school guards. Really there are hundreds of people who come in contact with our group. Not sure what the question is but I am thinking about the implications that might exist.
I don't always know when to trust the process or to force the process? Sometimes I think people will automatically connect the dots between different things and their clinical work, but I am not 100% sure.
I think the best learning experiences during the summer happen outside of official class rooms. There are some really mind blowing powerful and life changing experiences. Should I be trying to capture and quantify these spiritual, emotional, relational and important thing into some form that would be valued by the university system that are not aware of what happens in this program?
The program is fairly challenging physically. How can I better meet the needs of people with mobility issues?
Not that I always succeed, but I want to be "a highly nonreactive vessel that allows a transfiguring reaction takes place" for participants. Mostly I feel genuine love and compassion for people. On the rare occasion when I feel someone is being rude, I mostly can understand that it is coming from fear or discomfort and is a sign that they are in a process of growth. How would I know when it isn't though? Like a supervisor has both the role of a mentor and sometimes a gatekeeper, when do I know when it is time to shift roles and approaches?
Am I responsible for each person's unique dietary restrictions? I have some students/faculty who have dietary restrictions and I never hear about them because they just handle them. I have others who are frustrated with me for not accommodating them sufficiently.
Food in general is a very central part of immersion experiences. I use to militantly try to get people to not eat at any US establishments. I had a colleague who believed that people need their "McDonald" moments sometimes and that it helps them regroup. This year I didn't really challenge anyone to not go to US establishments. They are every where and it is almost impossible. Is there some middle path that I should take? I go to US establishments now too. I think the reason I stopped being militant it was kind of judgmental and led to competitiveness between folks about who is immersion the most. Not helpful.