Tuesday, April 21, 2009

At HALO (Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization) Racine, Wisconsin

Many thanks to the HALO residents who participated in our programs this spring--your spirit has been an inspiration to us! We wish you all the best as you continue to develop your personal strengths and to grow in love and wisdom.

University of Wisconsin-Parkside students joined HALO residents for a final evening of performance on April 21, 2009.  Over a three-week period, participants gathered in a spirit of fellowship to share stories of hope and fear, and to create dramatic scenes based on those experiences.  The performance, staged for other HALO residents, provided the opportunity for reflection, dialogue, and empowerment, as audience members shared their own perspectives, and joined the actors on stage to demonstrate how they might approach similar challenges. This series of workshops was the second that the Parkside students have facilitated at HALO this spring, where they have spent a total of 8 weeks sharing their talents and developing their leadership skills.

MANY THANKS to Family and Children's Program Manager Stephanie Kober and Executive Director Cheryl Buckley for their hospitality and support.  We appreciate the opportunity to partner with HALO and hope to be back soon!  (See the link to the HALO web site above.)

THANKS ALSO to our friends at the Music Theatre Workshop in Chicago, especially Meade Palidofsky and Alyssa Sorresso.  Meade and Alyssa ran an extremely helpful workshop for us early in the semester at a critical stage in our planning process.  (See the link to the Music Theatre Workshop's web site above.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Communication Department Celebration!

April 16, 2009:  Students in the Certificate Program in Conflict Analysis and Resolution celebrated at the annual Student Celebration sponsored by the the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Several of the students stood up to share their thoughts about the program and in particular about their recent experience working at HALO (the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization) in Racine, Wisconsin.  At HALO, the "Parkside Peacemakers" have led workshops in storytelling, dialogue, performance, and conflict transformation for 8 weeks this semester.    

Here is what the students had to say about their experience:

Madelyn Lipke:  I have learned so much from the Conflict Resolution Program and it is something I have grown passionate about. While working at HALO every person we encountered was a reason to continue our work. I honestly have a small portion of my heart dedicated to every woman, man, and child we met. All of them were seeking enlightenment, in whatever form it came to them in, and I feel we were able to assist them in their goals. Every person faced a struggle in their lives and they had all already come so far we were just there to continue their healing and recovery process. There was one particular resident that we met in our second session. She was 18 years old and fresh out of foster care, she had come to Wisconsin to be with the mom she hadn’t seen since she was three. She walked into the first session reluctantly and became happier through the night as all of us got to know each other. She had a chance to share a story from when she was a victim of violence and while she was speaking to us I could see the pain in her eyes, the rejection from the mother she had always wanted to know, not living up to her expectations. It was a story of heartbreak and hope. We were there for her to listen. I think all she needed was for someone to hear her story, we listened with empathy . She never asked for advice or confirmation of her actions. She just looked us with a glimmer of hope in here eyes for a better future. It is people like her, and all of the other HALO residents that make the Conflict Analysis and Resolution Program worthwhile.

Laura Joosse:  Working with HALO has been such an amazing experience.  Our group is so diverse; we come from all different ages, ethnicities, and walks of life, but we are still all able to connect and support each other on the most fundamental human issues that we all deal with. 
Just the other night, one older HALO resident gave the most powerful performance in one of the scenes that was put together by students and residents.  In the scene, he played a father who just lost his son in a car accident.  He later revealed to all of us, the strong connection that the scene has to his own life.  He had previously lost an infant daughter to crib death, and he worries for the safety and well-being of his only, teenage son who has gone down the wrong path.  Spontaneously, he asks the entire group for advice and support in helping his son and reconnecting with him again.  A few students gave their genuine input based on their own real-life experiences.  He listened and took in every word.  He seemed to gain such an understanding and appreciation for what we do there, and it is times like this that have encouraged us and justified our reasons for being there.