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After months of recruiting for our 2017-2018 cohort, the Public Allies Arizona team has found 46 wonderful individuals that we are proud to call our Class 12 Allies.
At the beginning of September, they started CORE Training, the first step on a life-changing journey. Over the next 10 months, this diverse group of up-and-coming leaders will serve full-time at local nonprofit organizations and learn the skills to start careers in the nonprofit sector.
At CORE, topics such as capacity building, oppression, inclusive spaces and vocabulary, leadership, and professionalism were all discussed. Miquella Young, one of our allies, said that during training she discovered “the deep roots of my passion, my why, my driving force that pushes me when adversity strikes. Practicing our +1 of self-care along with self-awareness will ensure I spend every day learning and growing. Our diversity is a blessing: a valuable resource. Our problems are breeding grounds for solutions.”
Following CORE training, our allies and program managers ventured into the woods of Prescott for the three-day CORE Retreat. On the first day, identity, power and privilege were explored through a series of inspiring and awakening activities like the Privilege Walk and Ignite the Light.
The purpose of the Privilege Walk is to help our allies learn to recognize how power and privilege can affect our lives even when we are not aware that it is happening. Our allies engage in this activity not to blame anyone for having more power or privilege or for receiving more help in achieving goals, but to provide our allies with an opportunity to identify both obstacles and benefits experienced in our life.
During Ignite the Light, allies share stories about themselves while imagining a world where they were given the tools to speak their truth, follow their hearts and, above all, believe in themselves. We closed out the day with this activity, hoping to empower our allies to be their absolute best selves regardless of their childhood experiences or obstacles that they have had to overcome in life.
During our second day of retreat, the allies worked on building trust, teamwork and connections by engaging in challenging discussions related to diversity and oppression where there are conflicting points of view. They also discussed aspects of their identities and building bridges to understanding, as well as what it may feel like to encounter a wilderness experience in service while exploring their journey to self.
The last day of retreat was focused on self-reflection and their futures in service. The allies created life maps and wrote letters to themselves as a personal commitment to making change both in their lives and professional career.
“The most gratifying moments (at retreat) were spent when all of the allies got together after program hours and would sit by the campfire,” said ally Juliet Allen. “We talked about all of the wonderful awakenings we were having with each other and got to really connect as a cohort. I'm already loving my new family so much.”
On September 15 the allies were sworn in at our induction ceremony. After hearing inspiring words from our staff and a PAAZ alum, our new allies took the AmeriCorps Pledge and joined the thousands of other service members changing the world, by starting in their local community.
As we near the end of October, our allies have already made great strides at their placements and are continuing within Stage 1 of their Ally Journey. Our training and learning curriculum encompasses eight stages:
Stage 1: Journey to Self
Stage 2: Hearing the Call
Stage 3: Answering the Call
Stage 4: Advocacy and Becoming Aware
Stage 5: Critical Thinking and Strategy
Stage 6: Collaboration and Breaking Barriers
Stage 7: Ethical Negotiations
Stage 8: The Ideal Ally
In Stage 1, the Journey to Self, our allies discuss humanity, culture, identity and beliefs at our bimonthly community space days. In the next stage, they’ll learn to be aware of the conditions of others and to identify injustices, discover internal strengths and uncover their passions and purpose.
Throughout, our allies are also learning vital and important leadership qualities that will help them make sustainable social change. In the years to come, we’re sure they will.
Emily Barrett is a senior at Arizona State University, working towards her bachelor’s degree in Public Health. She is our newest Project Specialist working with Public Allies AZ.