“I plan my calendar a year out.”
This is what I often hear from people considering a CSJ program. “I plan my calendar a year out, so I need to know when the dates are sooner.” From co-workers in my office I hear: “Ministers, especially, need to plan their year in advance if they’re going to be able to travel.”
So why can’t we always have program dates advertised earlier?
Last year the CSJ had an intense, deeply moving delegation to Honduras. The delegation consisted of a mix of people of different ages, races, from different countries, and in different levels of engagement of activism work. When we arrived in Honduras, our partners took the lead. They intentionally created the itinerary to use our presence to bring national and international attention to strategic aspects of their work. We arrived at a meeting in the countryside so the women could use our presence to aid in their safety as they spoke with the men about the danger they face within human rights organizing as women in male-dominated spaces. We attended (and spoke at) press conferences, we attended meetings with politicians, and we participated in organizing and healing workshops with the greater community.
For us to be partnered centered, we have to actively de-center our needs. We at the CSJ would love to offer this opportunity again and representatives of Foro de Mujeres Por la Vida have said that they want to do this delegation again. We know that they are open and eager to collaborate when a date feels right to them. We have to be patient and wait as they navigate the constant stress and trauma they hold as they defend human rights within the context of a dictatorship. Amidst all of that, it does not help them to have a US-based institution badgering them about dates for the next delegation.
Partnered-centered programming is hard, and we do not do it perfectly. It is an imperfect balancing act of our partners’ needs and our needs. It is the desire for an authentic relationship where we know that our partners feel free to say yes/no to us without breaking relationship. And it means that we have to be aware of our structural power and work harder to make sure that our partners’ needs come first.
We are excited to offer dates proposed by our Partners for our next delegation. Our upcoming journey to Honduras is scheduled for March 5-11, 2020. Learn more about the trip here.
-Gina, Senior Associate for Curriculum and Immersion Learning Programs