Connecting local responses around the world
On 12th Oct, we facilitated a SALT session with about 20 boys aged 17-19 years who attend after-school English and computer classes at Saathi Centre, Institute of Social Studies Trust in Delhi, India. The project aims to build an enabling environment for the girls in a neighbourhood in Delhi. We are at step one of Community life competence process- Who are we? First meeting was with adolescent girls who suggested that we meet the boys https://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/power-of-appreciatio...
SALT visit with boys: how was it different from meeting with the girls? It was different in some ways. These are my personal observations and come from reflections with the facilitation team who are quoted in the blog.
Boys are more hesitant to open up Boys take more time to open up especially on soft issues as we asked them the question “what have you done which you are proud of?” But getting them into pairs made them comfortable to share. “They wanted to speak more but I think they do not yet have the vocabulary to articulate what they were feeling,’ said Kamlesh. So, through this appreciative process we can give the boys the opportunity to realize their strengths, develop confidence, share what they feel and engage in a dialogue with others. Boys are usually quiet but for the first meeting they seem interested” observed Amita Joshi. “In my experience of working with adolescent boys, I have found that boys get fidgety, chat or get very quiet and sometimes seem distracted in early interactions. In the SALT meeting the boys were not speaking a lot but definitely they were attentive and interested.”
Another difference was in the stories of action shared by boys and girls. Boys shared stories of what they had done outside and the actions were mostly in external settings like helping someone who was hurt on the road. This indicates how boys are allowed more freedom and mobility by the family. Girls shared stories which were centred around home and friends.
Personally I found girls more anxious about their future than boys, girls felt concerned how the societal pressure could hamper their aspirations. Chaplin, T. M., and Aldao, A. (2012). Gender differences in emotion expression in children: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0030737 Do Boys and Girls Express Their Emotions Differently? Says Chaplin that these variances are only evident when the children were in the presence of strangers. When they are with their parents, the children expressed a wide range of emotions, making the gender differences virtually non-existent. Chaplin believes that children may feel more comfortable with parents and may feel free to express all of their emotions. The above study gives us pointers for our facilitation in this community. We want to address the context and work towards stimulating community and family response to ensure children thrive during adolescence. Lives of the adolescents are complex, affected by gender, class, caste, religion and differing abilities. We need to keep in mind that these complicated layers can account for adolescent self-esteem.
I conclude with overall insights of the boys on the appreciative conversation- When the boys were leaving I asked them how did they feel about the meeting. “It was nice because we were looking at good things in each other. But when we go out and tell others what we did here in the meeting, they will laugh. But we know it is important to look at strengths.”
Photo of the SALT facilitation team