Breaking the Silence workshop series, for Somalis and all African immigrants, off to a wonderful start

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The first Breaking the Silence workshop in Springfield, on March 29th, was a great success. (For more about the workshops, see this earlier post.) We were blessed to be able to use the Al-Baqi Islamic Center. The priest there, Imam Rasul Seifullah, was very supportive of the entire event. (The rest of the series will take place at the downtown offices of The Springfield Institute.) The day began in a combined male/female session. Dr. Parham read and explained the details of a Patient’s Rights Bill in the United States. Shortly, we separated the group into male and female breakout sessions. This was a tremendous advantage. We were able to create an environment of comfort and openness that was not present in the combined group. Speaking from the perspective of the women’s group, they felt at ease, a little bit shy at first (to be expected), but willing to listen and carry out open discussions.

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One of our goals during the day was to foster cultural sensitivity with our groups. In my view, the fact that the women were willing to open up was a sign that we were initially successful. It was great to watch. From our time together in that group, It was clear that we were dealing with a smart and gifted group of women.

Clara led the men’s group through the rest of the afternoon. As soon as the break out session started, the men understood the importance of, and seemed to find a mutual sense of comfort from, the break-out sessions. They were respectful of the women’s group, and automatically decided to hold their meeting in a different room. This is another sign that cultural sensitivity is–and should be–an important part of our mission. I think that we succeeded in creating an environment of safety, respect, and love among those who attended…. And yes, I believe that what happened on that Sunday was an important step in helping to break the silence.

Tentative dates for the next sessions are the following Sundays: April 12th, April 26th, May 10th, May 31st. Check back for confirmation as the dates approach.

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