Thursday, October 18, 2012

Listening: Understanding Strengths (Nicole Wilken)

Many SALTers mention that the reason they keep coming to SALT meetings is because of the sense of community that is established between the members of the group. One way we foster close relationships within an organization of about 75 people is through weekly one-on-ones. A one-on-one is defined as an intentional conversation between two SALTers in order to get to know one another, uncover common interests, and better understand each other’s passions related to social justice. Within a one-on-one – usually a casual meeting over a meal or a coffee – the conversation can range from “What else are you involved in on campus?” and “How are your classes going?” to “Why does social justice matter to you?” and “What do you want to learn through your experiences in SALT?” I’ve had one-on-ones where we discussed classwork because we were taking similar classes and others where we talked for an hour about the politics of social justice. One of the best one-on-ones I’ve had was with a “seasoned” SALTer (there are so many puns in this organization!) who listened to my concerns about how the organization was reaching out to new members. She was not only a sounding board for my freshman frustrations, but also talked with me about how we could implement changes to make the situation better for the next year. In this way, our one-on-one allowed me to better able to understand how my personal passions and ideas could be used within the context of the organization. Though I was intimidated by her before our one-on-one, she became one of my closest friends in SALT.
For the first few weeks of the year, we especially work to coordinate one-on-ones between experienced members and newcomers to the organization. In this way, new SALTers get acquainted with the general set-up of a one-on-ones and become more at ease thinking and talking about social justice. After the first couple of weeks, SALT’s social coordinator comes up with fun ways to pair people together randomly. For instance, during last year’s WRC in which we funded the construction of a well, we had one week where half of us got a slip of paper that had the word “water” written in another language and the other half received the name of the language used. From that point, it is up to the particular students to coordinate when and where their one-on-one will take place. Throughout the year, the random pairings allow us to stay involved with what is happening in other focus groups or WRC committees. Using one-on-ones, SALTers learn more about other people, the organization, and themselves – as well as how those entities can better work together.

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