Working with the Guyana Prision Service Trainee Officers

In setting the ground rules for our discussions I asked those gathered if they promised to be honest and open with me, as facilitator, I'll do the same and together we will learn from each other.

It never ceases to amaze me how the "Are We Human?" question stimulates thinking and generates lively banter. The ensuing discussions naturally humanizes the gathering and sets the perfect stage to the discussions following.

We were given 1 1/2hrs to facilitate, our community was eager, open and willing to share which allowed the transference of knowledge to be fluid and natural. What struck all of us was the similarity in our concerns and hopes and this provided the opportunity to for us to share our Levels of Involvement/Action.

This is where things got very interesting. On their board is a Tally of the Trainees:







When we asked what the 'strength' meant, they shared that it meant those present. What an interesting concept! The community of Trainees see the mere presence of their colleagues as a strength. This idea is both inspiring and transformational.

We were able to further develop this concept on a personal level.' Can we as individuals make a difference?

Where do we start?' These are some questions that are frequently asked, but, if I begin see myself as being '1 strong', then I can be the difference I seek, I can start making the necessary adjustments in achieving my hope.


While wrapping up the Officer in Charge told us he's giving us 2 more hours. Talk about a test of our flexibility, it's easy to read about it and apply it in a self assessment test format, but real life is another story altogether. I'm happy with how our team handled it, we had a quick pow wow, came to a consensus about the plan of action and we went ahead with implementation. There were no awkward moments in the transformation.

We decided to do the 'Dream Building' exercise and integrate the 5 major areas of the concerns shared earlier into the Group Dream:

  1. Education
  2. Family
  3. Job Creation
  4. Modernized Prison System
  5. Youth Development

The trainees were eager to ''fullticipate' and the session took on a new life, they were energized (probably more from their working snack break) and each began sharing with their group members their interpretation of the dream. This is what I loved, they fed off of each others energy, sharing their individual strength while leaning on their teammates' strength. They were a self regulating community as well, when the knowledge transfers got too heated and excited, someone provided a caution and they collectively simmered down to concentrate. I knew just like in cooking stew, it is the simmering that causes the flavors to concentrate and explode later on your tongue.... I was like a child anticipating my mom's cooking... knowing that the smells coming out the kitchen were a good indication of the feast ahead.

I wasn't disappointed, they shared their hearts and artistic abilities and we all as a community responded by sharing our 'love' and appreciation.

There was one moment where one of their Trainers questioned the lack of 'key' elements in their representation of the modernized Prison, the person presenting said, 'I done (with the presentation) Miss, I don't want Sir 'X' to ask me no more questions'. The energy and mood of the room began to fizzle, I politely interjected and said, 'Sir, this is the trainees view of what is lacking in the system, and what they can do to correct it.'

'Better security, more officers and the introduction of specific technologies is what at their level they feel they can contribute to the modernization effort, however, if we are invited to do this training with the senior officers in the Prison system and I don't hear some of the same suggestions you just made, that would be a grave situation indeed.'

He had nothing further to say and I asked the presenter to continue and the energy in the room went right back up.

In closing, we shared that the same steps we took in building our dream here, are the same they can take back with them, integrate it into their personal and professional lives and transform their communities.


Here's to seeing ourselves as 1 strong addition to this very SALTy community and 1 SALTy injection to our various communities.







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Comment by Autry Haynes on November 13, 2011 at 3:48pm

"I like!" Thanks Marissa. What I take awayfrom this shared experience is the confirmation that being SALTy allows you to adapt to the circumstances and that the process itself can be used to FIT the circumstances, as well. In the end there will always be a "WIN WIN" situation. So, yes! the 'y' of SALTy is REALLY you (me) and our abilities to be a SALT Facilitator verses a Expert Facilitator. Kudos to you and team members (^_^)


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