By Jake Rauchberg
There was a buzz in the room. Between my excitement for my first Advoz program and the white noise engulfing the space, I could barely hear myself think. But it wasn’t the sort of buzz that you normally hear when you walk into a church on the weekend. Not the white noise that gleefully fills the air with chatter and smiling faces greeting you. In fact, it was the opposite: mouths shut and arms crossed–utter silence. The only real buzz in the room was from the air conditioning unit drowning out unspoken feelings of apathy and resistance.
Then, as we embarked on the two-and-a-half hour parent workshop for Making Peace, I watched in awe at how the facilitators took a room full of discord and made discourse.
Though Making Peace was a just a brief snippet of my summer internship with Advoz, what I experienced in those two-and-a-half hours redefined how I look at conflict, communication and community building. In a matter of moments, the facilitators were able to tackle conflict head-on and establish a workshop that invited open and honest dialogue among unenthusiastic participants (and even myself!).
My summer experience showed me that change can happen on all levels. Whether it was watching the power of a one-on-one victim-offender conference allow an individual to see promise in their future, or observing the progression of a Making Peace workshop create small but meaningful moments to inspire a change in the relationships between parents and their children; I learned that resolution comes in many shapes and sizes.
My summer with Advoz taught me that in all conflict, there is opportunity for change, no matter where I end up I know that the values I learned in my Advoz summer are ones that I can take into the future. Thank you to all who gave me such a memorable summer — staff, volunteers and yes, the buzzing, open-minded families in that Making Peace workshop.
Jake Rauchberg is a rising senior at Franklin and Marshall College and just completed his summer internship with Advoz through the Ware Center for Civic Engagement.