So this is a major program and not necessarily in the length or the status of the program but it can be very life changing and transformative for folks. So for you all, how did you decide to become a part of the SYD program? What was your motivation for becoming a near-peer facilitator? I think I didn't know what I signed up for it to be honest. I was taking an IGR training course on facilitation and I had realized you can't just learn about facilitation in the classroom like it's really important to practice it and I then signed up for a summer youth dialogues because I wanted to practice my facilitation to actually be in the process of learning about it through practice and what kind of tools I can learn in the moment by practicing it with a group of other students in a cohort. So that part had attracted me but I'm also interested in facilitation in the context of social justice education. That's how I've been receiving my training in facilitation. So for me, it was really great that I got the facilitation in social justice education work and being able to learn tools from my co-facilitators on how to facilitate but also learn new ways of framing in language when it comes to social justice and learning more about the Detroit community too. It was a really great experience and opportunity for me. For me, it was knowing Latinx before me, who had done it? So Yvonne, Harvey, they both were facilitators. Just from the conversations I've had with them about just like our identity, social identity, or community and by a little bit encouragement, "Hey you should apply." Then I was like, "Okay. I think I would." They seemed educated in facilitation and social justice. So I was like, "Okay. I want to be there one day". But again, I feel the way Shima did I didn't know what I was signing up for. I had a general sense but I think my presumption of SYD was much more relaxed than what it really was. First when I think about your preparation, like if anything could really prepare you for becoming a inter-group dialogue facilitator for young people in community but thinking about the preparation that you had either in the many cores or the program orientation or your conversations with paths facilitators, what do you feel prepared you the most for that role? I think what really prepared us the most was the fact that we had gone to do the activities we were using in the dialogue session during our practicum session. So we actually experienced what it felt like to participate in that activity so that we could better understand from the perspective of participants what they were going through. So getting the idea of not only knowing what it's like to participate in the activity but then thinking about how to translate that into a facilitator role was something we were able to talk about in a group discussion, what does it look like to facilitate this activity? What did you learn from it as a participant that would inform how you would facilitate this activity during the dialogue? Another thing that really helped prepare us was the fact that we got to debrief our past dialogue session during the practicum too. What was really important in that is there is some dynamics that we had noticed in the past dialogue session that we were thinking might show up again in this dialogue session and how did we want to address them this time around so that they can experience the activity more critically. So that whole reflective practice loop, that I know that they went through in practical with you all. Well I think the period with you and Barry, the 2-3 day orientation that really started putting a lot of things on the table for me. So I was starting to get a sense of these concepts that I had maybe heard of but wasn't necessarily familiar with on a deeper level and on a level that helps me better understand to in turn better explain to the participants that we were going to. The orientation definitely opened up a lot for me and I think being with you and Barry, both educated people in social justice, really gave me a great framework to start SYD. So that theoretical, we like to call the scholar activism. So I can learn the theory so I can apply it for solutions that I want to create with others in community. For you that was a starting place. Right. Okay very good. So now thinking about the time with the young people. So again, you all began with them as individuals trying to help them with your own personal identity awareness and identity development. Then, by the end of the summer, they were working across the difference of one another different leadership styles. Working through conflict, trying to create a project with one another for their community in some sustainable coalition. What was that like? I feel like it was extraordinary watching them grow. So the first day both communities were just so shy and introverted even my Latinx community with each other we're just very quiet and watching them go from not really wanting to talk. Actually think about they would always willing to talk, but it was more like to the extent of what they talked about. Pull out this. Right. So watching them go from, I'm a little nervous to talk about these things to these things are wrong and we need to create change. I hear your voice. Right. It was phenomenal for me. So watching them transform, it felt like a whole caterpillar metamorphosis for me. For me, a lot of it at the end had to be me trusting them, trusting that we had done a great job helping them learn social justice, helping them learn the language that comes with that helping them build awareness of their group dynamics and how that would show up when I'm not there. For me, it was really difficult not wanting to facilitate through there community building project, I wanted to show up in that space and help them facilitate. Okay, what are your ideas here and here and whose voices haven't we heard? So it was difficult for me to let go of that and let them do that on their own. But what I really did get to do was let them be on their own because at the end of this, I'm not going to be present when they're doing their community project. So it's important that they had gotten early on to experience working as a group without me being present there. But also realizing that I could still check in with them after that and be like, hey, what showed up in that space and process it with them and debrief it with them afterwards. So that when they were trying to that space they had more tools and more skills they wanted to bring into the conversation and be able to facilitate on their own through that. Let's explore that some more. So there is this transition period that begins about the last day or so of the retreat and then the last two sessions of dialogue, we're talking about inclusive leadership, a sustainable coalition, and sharing power in group dynamics and you are setting them up to do a project or some activity but then you step back and let them struggle and give them feedback. Right. What was it like to be in this process of, okay we've given you tools, we're going to allow you to practice these tools, step back, and turn you back over eventually to your community? I think the activity that's stands out the most to me on that note is the one where we observed them. Building a multicultural Detroit. Yes. Yes. So trying to desegregate Detroit. In that activity essentially, watching them build their own dynamics, watching who sit up to the front to write, watching who sat back, who was talking, who was not talking. Watching them do that and when they were at a point in the program that they felt that they knew essentially everything that they've gone through the bulk of the program, that they were ready to go be social justice warriors and create change in their communities, and then to have them do this activity and then point out to them you all had X amount of dynamics. There were these people talking, these people not talking, these people were left out, and then for them to see the true cost of intent versus impact and to them to see it in themselves and see it in something as simple as doing a group project. I think really starting to stress for them in the last two days. One, we have a lot to learn, and two, these concepts that we had been learning throughout the program are very real, we just did it. So for me, that was an activity that I felt really touched them in the sense that we need to do better, we need to really be intentional with what we're doing and what we are trying to do it for. Yeah. I think that's the first time they really get it. Social justice isn't just a destination or an outcome, but it's the process. So as part of this transition, we're exiting as a program and you all are exiting as near-peer facilitator and then they're reentering their communities largely to try to work on a project for the remainder of the academic year with adult allies in their own community. What was that process like? It was a lot of conversations about what they were concerned about or worried about for the future, and so with that, it was just mainly listening to what concerns, they had realizing they had shared those concerns together, and so with that, they were able to share ideas with each other about how they wanted to approach those situations and how to still remain being a coalition in that process. Because coalitions can break if they're not actually trying to sustain the coalition and build it together. For me, it was also reminding them that this is supposed to be an empowering space for them. So it wasn't me telling them what they were going to do, but letting them just process it with me and then create their own ideas of how they wanted to approach the situation. But it was also difficult to have to remind them that they are leaders and they can be leaders even though they are youth, but they're again, the stereotypes and the narratives that they are not leaders, that they are not of a certain age, where they have the rationality and the power to be a leader. So it was reminding them that they had to coerce that together as a group and to empower themselves to be aware of that, but also to keep challenging it and to keep having the strength to challenge it and that was when they could rely on their coalition for emotional support doing that. They are the experts of their own journeys. Yes. They will be the author of their own stories eventually. So lastly, I'd like to know what did you all learn from the experience in the process, and if you've changed, how have you changed? Something I had learned and really value from my experience with Summer Youth Dialogues is acknowledging that growth isn't linear. That for me showed up in multiple ways, like my facilitation. I expected my facilitation to just improve linearly, I'm going to be amazing at the end of this. But it was like realizing no, it's more like waves and ups and downs and so acknowledging that I will have good days and I'll have bad days when it comes to my facilitation. Something else I had to realize was that I expected my students' social justice growth to be linear as well, and I'd be like, "Hey, we just talked about this last session, why are you coming back with the same ideas?" But it was me understanding and helping them understand that, yeah, oh my God, you're actually going back to your communities and receiving the same messages. It's hard to have awareness and consciousness when you are constantly, socialization is continuously being reinforced. So it's difficult to always be in a space where you're resisting and challenging that, especially in the home. So it was important that I had to realize that we had to continue to go back to ideas we had already addressed because they were being reinforced differently. So having to actually keep talking about it and unpacking it and realizing that you can believe a certain thing but it doesn't always translate into action. So with that, it was having them to become more aware of the fact that you can be aware and still do the action you understand to be harmful, and that it's okay to forgive yourself, but to continue to hold yourself accountable when that happens and to address whatever impact that had. Thank you both for the hard work and all the effort that you've put into the Youth Dialogues Program, but I think I'm interested, and others would be really interested, in knowing what did you all get from it? How did you grow or change or what did you learn? I know and I joke around. Sometimes I am never able to walk into a room the same or I'm never able to be in a meeting the same, I'm never able to have conversation the same because I feel like SYD really opened this third kind of conscious eye of what is going on in the room, what are the dynamics? What is really happening that everybody may not be seeing? So for me, that was something, that was almost immediate in the first couple of practicum sessions like seeing the way that all of these identities can affect your everyday life. My youth group, I feel like they've taught me more than any classroom of course. Just seeing how engaging they were, seeing how ready they were to commit change, seeing the growth of them really impacted me and really constantly motivated me to be the best, not the best, but the best I could possibly be. I gained a lot out of being a part of Summer Youth Dialogues. I gained really valuable relationships and friendships. Whether that was with my instructors, with my co-facilitators, or just the rest of my cohort, and also with my dialogue participants, still being in contact with them and still seeing that we had all made an impact together was important. I also learned how to manage my expectations throughout Summer Youth Dialogues and realizing that I can't ask my participants to change without having to change myself also in that process. So realizing how to be more flexible and adaptable and how to listen more, I really did get to practice more affirming inquiry and being empathetic with people especially in the beginning. I tend to be more of an introverted person and so for me having to be in a space where I'm facilitating a conversation and also trying to learn from other people while challenging myself to be vulnerable with them too was a difficult process, but much needed and really helped me grow as a person. I think also just realizing coming back to that know of how powerful dialogue can be, I never realized that. Yeah, I never realized that until I saw these communities of youth that had never interacted with each other, never really been to each others hometowns just bond on the level that they did and be able to see each other not as the stereotypes they'd learned, the stereotypes that had been taught to them, but as people and as youth just like them. So I think for me, it was a growing experience to see the power of dialog not in general, but specifically in youth, and how much that morph them into agents of change. The fact that they were able to come into this program wanting to learn about social identities and who they are and what separates them from the people around them and come out wanting to do projects in their community was for me inspiring because that all came from conversation. Well, thank you both. You are young people who are extremely lucky to get to work with you, and so were we.