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Alianza's Working with Men and Boys to End Domestic Violence national training, held October 17 and 18 in Albuquerque, NM, was definitely not your "typical" domestic violence training. "This has honestly been the best training I have ever attended," shared one trainee. "It has provided me with the opportunity to bring my beliefs and culture into my everyday work." Another stated: "Awesome training. Speakers are very knowledgeable and engaging. Interaction and methods of training are understandable, heart-felt, and relative to the culture and population of our area."
The training was a profoundly moving and, at times, a gut-wrenching experience for both trainers and trainees, who traveled from various parts of the country. The powerful dramatizations by Jerry Tello, of personal experiences with his familia- abuelita, dad, mom, children, and grandchildren-kept participants' attention riveted throughout both days.
At various times, there was scarcely a dry eye in the room as Jerry and Dr. Ricardo Carrillo shared their own and other people's stories to illustrate certain concepts associated with trauma and healing. They spoke about the fear, confusion, hopelessness and other emotional and spiritual challenges that families face on a day-to-day basis. They explored the deep-rooted and unresolved feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, alienation, fear and internalized anger and rage that lead to self-destruction and to familial and community violence.
The personal and familial experiences of trauma and pain, violence and oppression, were looked at within the larger context of social-historical oppression that Latino and indigenous communities have experienced for centuries. "I was enlightened and it made me reflect on my life, children and grandchildren...I look forward to working with you in the near future," said one trainee. "First training where we look at all the factors and players involved with Domestic Violence, and collectively talk and listen," said another.
Equal time was given to exploring values, ceremonies, teachings and processes that can help Latino families and family members heal and create safe and healthy relationships and loving and nurturing families. The trainers stressed the idea that true healing and rebalancing will only truly take place when one discovers and uses the life-enhancing values and gifts of his/her own culture, history, and heritage.
According to the trainers: "If a person has only a negative view of himself and his culture then he has no avenue for growth and development. A person's primary ethnicity is the root of a vision for the growth of self and community. Young people need to be guided to allow them to dream, reflect, and rediscover the life-enhancing values and gifts of their own culture."
Jerry stressed the need for interdependence, saying that the strengthening of a community and the families within it directly enhances the development and healing of its individuals. And as individuals heal and grow, they re-integrate with the positive vision of the community. If one is missing, he said then "disharmonious growth" occurs and this can lead to false hope and development. He said it is essential to understand the difference between co-dependence, individualism, and indigenous cultural interdependence, which he defined as individual/familial/community confianza—trust. He spoke about the need to develop this interconnectedness through the use of circulos in order to interrupt cycles of generational destruction and pain and initiate healing, positive growth and development, individual by individual, family by family, and community by community.
Several trainees expressed their interest in starting circulos within their organizations with the clients they serve, including, women, men and young men/boys. One young man said: "I would love to bring the Compadres Network to South Texas. I plan to do what I can to see my organization and Alianza succeed, but most importantly to see my family, my community grow and succeed. Thank you for providing wonderful information, for sharing a wealth of knowledge and for sharing your experiences."
Others left with a firm commitment to reach out to and work with men and boys: "We have been leaving violent men out of productive services for too long. I have personally felt and witnessed it. This training has been very eye opening and has confirmed my beliefs. I take with me a new approach with supportive handouts which I will present to my supervisor and executive director. ¡Les doy las gracias por este gran entrenamiento! Adelante Jerry, Ricardo y Alianza!"
Alianza and the National Compadres Network will do what they can to assist those trainee organizations who want to incorporate the teachings imparted into their work in their respective organizations.