2019 RESPONSES to the Study Guide sessions:
No of Respondents: 9 persons from three Groups (8 women, 1 man)
(Note: not every participant has responded to all the questions)
1. What were some of the best moments for me in participating in this group?
The small group discussion and the deep sharing that all group members participated in.
Hearing the stories of the participants in the group and in the book, and the video clips. The challenge to me was in holding up the mirror to myself, my thoughts and feelings around forgiveness, and how my actions impact others.
The size of our group (of 5), allowing permission to have a voice and be heard
The conversation emerging, our own stories become the focus of the topic.
Reflection time – very helpful
Realising how strong people can be, especially after going through such horrific occurrences.
Acknowledging that I too can live a more fulfilling life.
Hearing another life story and telling mine – what a privilege.
The respect and kindness with which the group heard my story of grief.
Hearing other people’s stories.
Connecting with my own unhealed pain and realizing there is hope to move forward.
Watching John’s gentle style of leading the group.
The sharing and listening in a safe community
Understanding the power of community
I learnt the value of engaging with the meaning of my own story.
Exposure to Rwandan stories.
Understanding the complexity of forgiveness and the need to face pain first.
Being around a gentle, thoughtful group of people seeking to learn.
When group members engage with each other, we become a community learning together, rather than ‘a leader-led’ group.
2. What were the more difficult moments for me?
Wondering if working with a group the leader would have to have an idea on dealing with potential emotional issues that arise in this work.
Holding other’s stories/ needing time to process
The recognition that human beings have the capacity to do great harm to others, history shows us how this can happen; yet also we have the capacity to heal and forgive
For sure the book is the saddest and yet the most enlightened book I have ever read.
In the beginning I didn’t think I could continue because I felt it was all so senseless. I am glad I continued through the course.
An unexpected outpouring of my grief. In this session I misunderstood the instructions/intent of the session and hence opened the door on grief, then couldn’t shut it. The group responded very compassionately and appopropriately so it was OK, but initially I felt awkward.
Talking about myself.
Realising my TA stance with respect to my husband.
Lack of time – 3 hour sessions would have been good.
This process deals with things inside me – as a group we have walked through the inner jungle, getting perspective and can see the hills and valleys beyond.
Confronting nature of the Rwandan massacre portrayed in personal stories.
3. What further questions do I have about using the material?
I think there also needs to be recognition of different learning styles of people in adult education and this will need to be taken into account.
How to include art making as a way to engage with the material
Can the course be run without the stories from Rwanda?
Adaptability into a church congregation struggling with grief, conflict etc?
How to use it in a church situation – how to present the idea of the group in a way that attracts people who are ready and willing to participate?
The need for each participant to have a suitable support person.
Can this material be tried with Teenagers in years 11 & 12, Inter-generational groups as well as people hurting and grieving through loss and rejection?
I hope the material will make its way into my CCT teaching and my therapy.
4. What changes or improvements would I like to see in the sessions?
Very word based – some more time in exploring the possibility of other modes of learning styles
Consider 3-hour sessions to in-depth the experience of each session- and do more practical work.
There are a variety of activities in the material that we are not able to cover due to time constraints. What would be the implications of running the course for 3 hours and enabling the participants to in-depth the course? e.g. I know I made the comment about not liking role plays, the reality is they are a good way of learning, it is a pity that we ran out of time to do that part of the learning. I would like to do more partner discussion; this helps build the group dynamics.
Broader range of recognition of different learning styles. Huge amount of material offered in each session, but I can see how it can be modified to suit the differing needs of a group (which we did do in session 3).
When referencing pages for homework, it would be helpful to have the headings, as it makes the pages easier to find when using Kindle.
It may reflect the fact that I missed the first session, but I felt a little uncertain about what the process is that we are doing – given that it is based on the longer Rwandan courses. Are we going through a personal process or learning to conduct a group process?
The session 3 introductory video I found overwhelming because it was packed with information.
I felt there was too little time in 2 hours to go through the material in some sessions.
More time is needed (eg 3 hours).
I think sometimes the instructions could be clearer. I think there needs to be opportunities/mechanisms to bring the material into closer interaction with our personal experience so we are not just learning about forgiveness in the abstract.
5. How am I changing as a result of this Study?
Thinking about forgiveness and what the steps are to forgiveness? I recognize the strength of real forgiveness and being prepared to give forgiveness time.
I think the study is helping me deal with my own grief and realize, whilst trivial in relation to Rwanda, the feelings and emotions generated are important in relation to my personal growth.
I am reflecting more on my actions and the way I behave. I feel I am less judgmental. There is less fear within me.
I loved the reflection on “I’m OK You’re OK” (session5) – I will practice this.
I am realizing that my emotions aren’t so scary or abnormal and am hopeful rather than fearful that I can learn to express them better.
I am learning not to be ashamed of how I feel or be worried about others’ reactions.
More deeply thinking about the need for active forgiveness
It has given me a calmer attitude towards forgiveness.
I have inner reserves of peace
I am feeling more calmness and patience.
My children have noticed the difference and say to me: “Why aren’t you getting angry (like you used to react to what we did/said)”?
I found tools and strategies to be a better listener when I engage with my family and people who have been hurt.
I have a different (new) perspective on ‘letting go’.
A greater understanding of forgiveness.
I’m Ok, you’re Ok – starting interactions from that place.
More aware of the nature of forgiveness and what is required.
6. What would I say to others who I think could be part of such a group?
This is well worth being part of. The course is a way of enabling understanding of issues of conflict, forgiveness, restitution and healing based on the Rwandan experience. I will design a brochure to hand to prospective participants.
I can see huge potential for those who have a willingness to explore ways of taking opportunities to create a more peaceful world.
To discover your trauma through the words of others in this course is a way forward for everyone. It gives the courage to live with emotional intelligence and to be your best self.
Here is an opportunity to learn to feel and grieve in safety and to heal and to forgive. However it is only possible with self-honesty and willingness to be open to the process and trust the other group members and have a support person.
Take some time to think and process, read the readings and find a conversation partner (mentor).
It gives a path to peace, and tools and strategies to make the principles practical.
This work involves the whole person – heart and mind.
We (a group of three mothers) want to note the worth of this material for those in situations needing family violence healing. The people in this group have all done ‘work’ (outside of the Church) that, although helpful, did not assist in areas this program does. The dealing with our own emotions and healing, particularly in relation to forgiveness, is not really covered well in other approaches. We all noticed that grappling with forgiveness in a proactive way makes a big difference to healing and peacefulness.
The forgiveness process is important to the healing after violence, but only once recovery has begun by first working through the effects and consequences of the violence.
Heart-warming, challenging stories.
7. In what ways did my mentor /support person assist me?
We had conversations about how the course can be used in a congregational setting, as well as general discussion about the course and book.
I recognise the importance of having a support person or buddy to work this journey with the participant.
I took any issues arising for me to my Spiritual Director; it was a very important thing to do.
My support person had a willingness to hear what I had to say/share about the course and the journey.
By their listening and encouraging me to participate. Helping me process what went on in me in each session, so as to continue the work of the session, which brought up things that there was not time for, or were not appropriate to deal with, in the actual session.
My husband is always there to debrief, and provides a safe space to express my feelings about the learning and the group experience.
I found it helpful having my partner in the same group – lots of opportunity for further conversation.
2019 RESPONSES to the Study Guide sessions: