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Listening First and Responding

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I’m in Cameroon on another iACT trip, supporting their work with refugee and local teachers, students, parents, soccer coaches, and players. Sara-Christine (co-executive director at iACT and my amazing travel buddy and friend) and I are back in the capital, Yaoundé. We are flying back to the US tonight (Nov 2). I wanted to give a quick overview of what we have been doing here, especially my experience sharing mindfulness with the folks we have met on this trip.

We began with an 8-hour car ride out to a small town called Batouri where we stayed for 9 days. We ran 2 rounds of 3-day Little Ripples preschool teacher trainings for approximately 52 men and women (and 12-15 babies and toddlers), who are the preschool teachers and cooks in the local villages.

iACT trainings emphasize safety (not only with a space clear of danger, but also free of violence in all forms) and fun with the belief that when kids feel safe, have fun, and are engaged, they will learn easily. Another important piece of the curriculum is mindfulness. The teachers are encouraged to weave in simple mindfulness practices in their curriculum throughout the day in order to support emotional regulation, literacy, and the overall cohesiveness of the group. Many of the teachers are solo with 45-50 three-, four-, and five-year-olds! Learning these skills is enormously helpful for them personally, as well as for regulation of the kids individually and as a whole. It is continually thrilling to me to witness the simple power of sitting quietly, with attention turned toward the natural rhythm of the breath for a few minutes, and then taking a few deeper inhales and exhales as a group. I often wonder how it will land going into it, if they will find it strange, etc. But so far, between my time spent in Chad and Cameroon, it always lands.