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UCAN Training Report!

Greetings again readers! Sorry to keep you waiting, the Internet in the Dominican Republic was a little slow to say the least. The UCAN seminar on the other hand was anything but slow! Day One: We had an amazing time with the counselors prior to our first day with the kids, which really set us up to, be able to accomplish some amazing things here. Every counselor and team member was deep in thought about what they hoped to achieve during their time at UCAN.

Some of the UCAN kids during a team-building exercise.
The kids here were very loud, sensitive and extremely passionate. Brant Doner, my good friend and partner in crime who invited me on this trip, led the day with the children by asking them what it was they hoped to achieve and experience in not only the three days at the seminar but in all of life! Goals that came about were values such as honesty, compassion, trust, friendship, faith and much much more. At UCAN we use several different exercises to illustrate to the kids exactly how they are in relationship with themselves and each other therefore illustrating how they are currently exemplifying the values they said they were after or not. At the end of the first day with the kids we asked them to pair into “buddy” groups with other children whom they usually wouldn’t hang out with. I was really blessed to see that the kids took this instruction seriously when many of them chose buddies who they had apparently been fighting with for years! Day Two: My favorite day of this trip was without a doubt was day two. We were able to take the children to a high ropes course where they had the opportunity to face and overcome their fears. Watching them from the ground I was able to support them and talk with them before and after they completed the ropes course. It was really touching to see how brave each of the kids were as every one of them completed the course. That afternoon after a few more teamwork and communication exercises Brant took the kids through a powerful visualization about life and death. Everyone, the kids, team, and trainers, were all touched by the power of that moment. Brant finished with the question; “Who Do You Chose to be” and the kids went hope in the most serious reflection I had seen them in yet.
Davide Zaccariello and I in one, of many, great conversations.
The Last Day: We had a really great conversation today led by CJ about what it would take to accomplish goals in life and the kids asked the trainers for all types of feedback. It was pretty clear that this group of kids at some serious hang-ups around trust so we had them all complete the “trust fall” exercise. The kids had to climb up on to the top of a wall and fall into the group’s arms. I was hesitant to go myself to say the least but after all of the kids did it with great success I couldn’t stand on the sidelines. In the afternoon the kids all shared about how they learned the power behind their word and their constant struggle of undermining that power by not matching their word with their actions. The kids also talked about how they felt like they could really trust and respect each other, which was HUGE for us to hear as a team. It’s been a great trip and another great UCAN. Thank you to all of the donors out there who make this type of work possible for young and impoverished youth!

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