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Mini-Workshop with the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh

Mini-Workshop with the
Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh

25 June 2017

Nineteen Bhutanese, three men and 16 women, gathered from 10:15am to 2:15pm on Sunday, 25 June 2017 for a mini Empowerment Workshop. Two participants left a half an hour early because of prior commitments. The workshop went very well. Everybody liked it and wanted to continue. One participant had participated in the previous workshop with service providers. She said that it was increasingly clear the more she participated. The group was dynamic, from teenagers to over 40 years old, from highly literate to illiterate, and including two couples. All of them said they had never attended this type of workshop. They liked how it was very lively, and even small activities had big power. They thought it was very good life skills and would be useful for a long over their lifetimes.

Nadine and Jamuna shared how infants have trillions of brain cells forming connections, half of which the brain discards at age three, many more at age seven and into teen years. Violence shuts down that formation in the brain; do not let people scare young children deliberately, accidentally or “for fun” (when usually men growl at very young children who shriek and run away as the adults laugh). Learning to keep a peaceful environment with love and respect around your infants and children is the greatest thing you can do for their development. They were totally into all the activities and excited about teaching their families. Pittsburgh, PA, June, 2017

During the story telling one of the couples noticed how often the husband wants to share about his emotions about his sufferings in the move from Bhutan to the U.S., especially as he had to leave many family members in Nepal. But his wife said not to share that with her, she didn’t want to hear those things. So they both realized how important it was to understand each other’s feelings and need for respect. They realized how they needed to practice good listening and companionship in future, which they could see would make their relationship much better.

During the discussion of AVP approaches one participant shared about the family conflict among her siblings. She is the youngest of 12 siblings, but her elder two brothers have died already. Among the three brothers and nine sisters, her youngest brother is disabled and her parents are elderly. She takes care of them and most of the time it’s a very hard job, but her sisters are always blaming and criticizing her. So I asked her to write her story with her feelings, because we don’t have a enough time to share. Even she felt very relaxed and relieved after the workshop.

I learned from these workshops that participants want to share more and more things, but we have limited time. It might be a good time to focus on the importance of self care and practicing to stop, think and speak and to stop, listen and understand others. Some participants act like leaders, and it’s quite hard to stop them from talking too much. But we reminded them of the cooperative agreements, which was really helpful, and slowly they would come back on the track. It helps to go around the circle to invite people to talk, balancing the talking, but that takes a lot of time in a mini workshop.

The Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP) are asking about future possibilities. They asked Jamuna to do more workshops now or to come back again later. She suggested they discuss that with Nadine and give their contact information to Friends Peace Teams, Asia West Pacific Initiative and to AVP-PA to organize further workshops. We invited them to the 10-day workshop in Ann Arbor, 28 July – 6 August 2017.