Reflections on a Practicum Now Finished

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During my 4th year at UBC, it was required that I do a practicum with a local organization related to my major (Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice—GRSJ being its much-needed acronym), and personal interests. Given this, I was thrilled to find a place at Check Your Head for the semester. I’m very passionate about social justice, and have always wished that some of the many issues that fall under its umbrella could be taught in high schools. I was eager to see just how Check brought these issues to post-secondary classrooms.

Aleks put me to work with some outreach-related duties, including gathering info about schools, teachers, and events for Check’s databases. It was the first time I’d ever seen how a non-profit operates behind the scenes. It gave me a lot to think about, and a new appreciation for the more practical, logistical side of things. I was most excited, however, to see a workshop in action.

But first, I was able to participate in the facilitator’s training workshop. Even if I never ended up facilitating a workshop myself, I found the skills and strategies extremely useful for a variety of situations. We played games, acted out scenarios, and discussed different approaches to dealing with conflicts…or awkward moments in general.

When I did attend my first workshop, I sort of knew what to expect. I’d been reading through Check’s workshop outlines, materials, and even evaluations from past participants. Even so, the experience was a little bit different than I’d imagined. For one thing, it took place in a community centre rather than a more traditional class room, and it was also on a weekend! The energy was quite removed from that of a buzzing high school on a school day—in fact, the centre is mostly used by seniors. That said, the workshop went well and I was happy to see how engaged the students were with the material.

Soon after, I attended the anti-oppression training, the first half of which was a collaboration with PeerNetBC. Like the facilitator’s training, this session provided us with a lot of new tools for speaking about issues—to each other, to younger youth, and to people who may not be as familiar with the language of social justice as we were.

Now that my practicum has come to an end, I will be hanging onto those communication/education strategies I was exposed to at Check, ready to see how they will serve me in the future (as they no doubt will). After spending so much of my time in university, it was refreshing to leave the academic bubble for at least four hours a week, seeing how the concepts I’ve studied can be made accessible for as many people as possible.

~ This piece is a reflection written by Teresa Nieman, Check Your Head’s latest practicum student, who joined us to examine the application of intersectionality in our facilitation approach, and to explore how other education-based organizations and non-profits can do this too. ~