Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hello. Hello.

April is a month of preparation in the GRS office. Which, oddly enough, means that for most of this month I will not be living at the GRS office nor in the field but rather at Barclays Sports Complex. I live here. It is a complex that we often use for trainings because of the field, the inside space, the staff, and the bar. The road to Barclays is a minefield. Crater after crater jostles me awake each morning so by the time I reach here I am ready to face 25+ energetic peer-educators. Each week we have a new group. Names to learn, personalities to collaborate, and time to be kept.
We’ve been saying “Hello” the past 2 weeks to a slew of potential peer educators. Thirty-five names to learn each of the weeks and 35 sets of facilitations skills to sift through. Admissions is a rough process. Each morning we start the day with tons of energy and nervousness. By the end of the day we are a family, teasing eachother and perfecting the balance between work and play.
GRS trains coaches (peer educators) in what we call ToCs (Training of Coaches), six days of intensive information. We teach them the entire 10 session curriculum, explain to them what their role is as a coach, and cover all manner of facilitation skills. Not to mention the fact that we have to train them in how to do home-visits, referrals, and explain how our office supports their activity.Just to briefly list and elaborate on what exactly it is that our coaches do; they implement a 10 hour curriculum (sometimes they do it 2 times a week, other times every day), they conduct home-visits to each one of their 40 participants homes in order to encourage parents to sign a consent form allowing their child to be tested for HIV, they attend and assist graduations making sure that their kids are shuffled through the testing process with a caring adult figure at hand, they also deliver results to parents, conducting a second home-visit that ensures that the testing information gets back into the hands of the guardian. If they are a coach-counselor then they accompany any HIV positive youth to their appointments at a pediatric clinic. In summary, they care more than any individuals that I have ever met!

Coaches (peer educators) are the roots of this organization and finding charismatic, adaptable, and caring coaches is a task that I am learning takes time, experience, and thoughtfulness. So after two weeks of six day trainings I had a few days in the office to re-group, say hello to faces that I haven’t seen in a bit, and prepare for three weeks of three day trainings for our current coaches.

Currently I am in the midst of DC (Development of Coaches) number one. A different vibe of confidence comes from these coaches and I really feel pushed to be on my toes and to challenge the norm of GRS. They push the envelope, which includes pushing me.

With a new crew of stellar individuals we, GRS, say hello to a new year of ambition, trails, and successes.

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