Foundations of Non-Violence Training on Sunday

Yesterday on Sunday was a fantastic day of non-violence training. The training was led by former NBA player Ron Smith and a gentleman named Barak Gibson.

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First we had a wonderful homemade breakfast at Shawn and Talisa’s home in Selma. Then we headed to the church.

When I first heard of us doing non-violence training, I imagined a scene from the movie Selma where protestors were being trained how to resist and react with possible violence from racist groups. We didn’t actually do that since we were doing just a single day of training. We did something more important: lay the foundations and values of non-violence training.

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We began by playing a game called Butts Up to warm up and make sure people were listening and awake.

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We then performed an exercise where we picked a partner who we didn’t know well and learned things about them. After we learned the information, we then had to get in front of everyone and introduce our partner to the entire class (and hopefully not forget any details we had just learned).

The purpose of this single day training was to lay the foundations of non-violence training. This began with just simply learning how to connect with people. This included getting to know them through communication and learning not to label or stereotype people.

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For lunch we had a FANTASTIC quesadilla plate with chicken quesadillas, spanish rice, lovely black beans, and all the jalapeƱos one could want.

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After lunch we focused on labels and values. Students had to pick their top 5 values. Then we broke up into teams to come up with common values our entire team could agree on.

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Before dinner, we ended our non-violence training with a wonderful debriefing of what we learned the past 4+ hours. I really loved debriefing. It helps bring people back to focus on what we had learned, each individuals thoughts and reactions, helps people retain what they just learned, and allows people to ask for clarifications.

What True Courage Looks Like

Today, our second day in Selma, we did our nonviolence training. We started by getting to know each other better through group exercises and discussion of different cultures, values, and the importance of community. We learned about nonviolence and its six principles: 1) nonviolence is the way of life for courageous people, 2) the beloved community is the framework for the future, 3) attack forces of evil, not the persons doing evil, 4) accept suffering without retaliation, for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal, 5) avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external, physical violence, and 6) the universe is on the side of justice. The first principle resonated with me the most because it teaches that nonviolence does not mean passivity or cowardice, but is actually an active resistance to injustice. It takes a lot of inner, mental strength to confront injustice and not react with violence. To me, real courage is having love for all people, even your opponents, while still standing up for what you believe is right (like Dr. King did). Nonviolence teaches us to attack unjust institutions and systems, not the individuals who carry out the injustices that results from these institutions.

The trip so far has been incredibly eye-opening. I have met so many wonderful, brave, and kind people here that are standing up for what they know is right. I have also loved getting to know everyone in our ASB group from Wake Tech. We have a very open-minded group and have learned a lot from each other and the other program leaders. I am very grateful for this opportunity and am looking forward to the rest of the week!