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Deb Wood, NY, USA (English)

I have been an AVP facilitator for just over 30 years. I took my first AVP workshop because I was someone who, when there was a hint of a conflict or someone said something that I disagreed with, I would back off. I finally realized that this was almost as destructive for me as if I had waded in with both fists. I loved the community that was built in that first workshop, and began to develop some language that could de-escalate a conflict while allowing me to speak my mind.

During the first ten years or fifteen years, I was part of the administrative leadership of AVP – in New York State, nationally and internationally – while continuing to conduct workshops. After my husband died, I went back to mainly facilitating and deepening my understanding of AVP philosophy and building blocks.

One of the highlights of involvement came in 2006 when I went with Nadine Hoover to Indonesia to help get AVP started there. This was about a year after the devastating tsunami had invaded Aceh, and not very long after the Indonesian government had lifted the sanctions and stopped the fighting in that province. My husband and I had visited Indonesia twice, and I had fallen in love with the people, the food and even the tropical rain forest climate. Because I don’t speak the language, my main contribution to the 2006 effort was to “translate” some of the exercises in the Basic manual into simple, understandable English so they could more easily be translated into Indonesian. Someday, perhaps, when I have a year to focus, I would like to spend three to six months studying Indonesian, then help facilitate workshops there.

I am a life-long Quaker. AVP has helped me do more than “talk” the Quaker belief that there is that of God in each person, and that our responsibility is to answer that of God in everyone. I find it easier to look at a new acquaintance as a human being who is on a journey, different from mine but one that has had its share of joys, losses and disappointments. Of course, I still make snap judgments based on skin and hair color, clothing, general demeanor and accent, but I try to quickly move beyond these first impressions to connect with something that binds us together as human beings. I am finding it easier to speak my truth about what is being said between us on a deeper level. I don’t always speak up when I hear something that I disagree with, but it happens more often than before.

A practical skill that AVP has helped me develop is that of crafting an agenda for a committee meeting, a training or other workshop. In my working life, when I was working for a non-profit, an issue had arisen that was causing volunteers to split over a policy that had been established. Using a Quaker technique, I convened a meeting of the volunteers, and asked each one to state where they were on the issue. Luckily, the head volunteer was gifted, and had the last word. He stated clearly what he had heard, very succinctly and accurately, and the issue was resolved.

I have always lived a privileged and entitled life. I have a long way to go to live fully into a non-violent lifestyle that fully embraces the AVP philosophy, but I am grateful to be able to be part of the ongoing effort to bring healing and peace to individuals looking for ways to live more positively, and to a broken world.

Deb Wood (2015)