Connecting local responses around the world
SALT visit 1: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community
What did we expect to happen?
We expected to start the visit at 11:00 a.m. and finish by 12:00p.m. We wanted to make sure the environment would make us feel equal and friendly. We were supposed to tell the community why we were there and what would be our objectives. We expected all the community members to be open and interactive with each other excitedly. We needed to create fun and open the floor. However, we were not supposed to lead the talk complaining or blaming each other and further actions for project based program. We just needed to tell that we were visitors and had come to them to know their concerns and dreams that they had kept in.
We were expected to be organized and only two people would lead the conversation. Rest of the students would only listen, listen and listen to learn. We were not supposed to take any notes during the conversation and ask any questions in the floor. We expected the community member's continuity till 6 months.
After the conversation, we were expected to sit together for our "After Action Review on SALT visit"
What really occurred?
As expected we, all the CLC students, were on time at Blue Diamond Society (Organization working by and for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex). We had to wait the community members for about half an hour as some of them were stuck on road traffic and the talk started at 11:30 a.m. The conversation room was quite warmer than expected.
Round table sitting arrangement was adjusted prior to our interaction with the community members and the team leader facilitated students to sit in an alternate order of a student and a member. Altogether we were 25 inside the conversation room. Most of the students found familiar community members and felt fortunate to start on a cool note. Though we didn’t plan for an energizer to start with but the students were aware of having a bit of sense of humor as one of the greatest assets a person could have. We started with introduction where every one of us introduced ourselves and we were prepared enough not to include their status. After the introduction, team leader informed about the objectives and expressed "we are here to learn from you, your community and reality". Community members were open with all smiley faces and felt comfortable and the reason might be that we knew each other while working together.
We said," Will you share your concerns that you have inside? How are you moving ahead and what dreams have you kept?" One of the members immediately felt proud in stating "I am the family of Blue Diamond Society", "I always love and have a passion to do volunteerism, that's why I am here". That was the breakthrough of the conversation and the floor was in their hand. We were just listening and getting inside their reality. For a moment, we were emotional in hearing the discrimination they faced, misbehavior from government, peers and family.
For a few minutes we felt like the only bad personal sharing were coming from the members hence we asked why not we talk about our strengths? And we started telling our strengths first "I believe my strength is – I am friendly with everyone", "My strength is I can finish what I am assigned for''. This turning question helped in stimulating them to reflect the members’ strength and they started telling:"My strength is I can teach whatever I have learnt to my community", "I can influence my community", "I am good learner" and so on…..
It was exactly at 12:35p.m.that we ended our conversation. We thanked them with CLC clapping and received their applause back. We ended up saying "we will meet again and expect your smiley face". We informed them about the food arrangement and enjoyed it with them.
Our part was still not over and we, CLC students, were all together for action review and started discussing about what went well, what didn’t go well, what areas needed to be improved. We took around 15 minutes and left the hall.
What lessons should you learn to do better next time?
We believe we can always do better next time. We had a wonderful SALT visit and got chance to learn with the community. We learned that SALT visit is about stimulating people to talk and be open for discussion and felt we needed to come up with some energizer to make the room friendlier. We have to manage the time because all of them didn’t get a chance to speak. It is true that SALT is the DNA of CLC and we learnt the need of strategic intervention for creating necessary support to do the things that they have been doing to improve their lives.