Two weeks full of making new friends, self reflection and awareness, crazy ice breakers, karaoke at lunch time, Zumba in the afternoon, discussions about rather taboo topics sometimes, spontaneous dance parties, way too much coffee, intense training sessions and so much inspiration that my heart could burst.
Or to sum up: I’ve been busy running an accidental counselling workshop for 38 wonderful participants, most of whom are youth leaders in their local churches.
Now usually 38 young people don’t give up their work, study and lives for two weeks to learn something that is still new in Tonga. This workshop was the first of its kind, which is why it generated a lot of public interest and I ended up on the news, three times in one week.
Yes that’s right, three times I appeared stuttering and slightly too anxious on the Tongan news.
But the training wasn’t about me. These 38 participants are the real rock stars of the show. Sometimes literally, as they liked to create original songs about counselling for their recap sessions. My favourite was:
“I love my job of counselling, reflecting people’s humanity, being responsive and acknowledging, being real and – genuine.“
I wonder where they got that from?
Lifeline Tonga, in partnership with Tonga Health, The National Forum of Church leaders and AYAD (being me) was aiming to “provide an introduction into counselling theory and skills for a group of accidental counsellors, being people in positions of leadership in their church or community. To also provide a comprehensive understanding of social justice and community support within a Christian context, to delegates from all church denominations in Tongatapu.
This knowledge and skill will then be applied to work within each church denomination, in order to provide better psycho/social support to the community of Tonga.”
These students were amazing. Their capacity for empathic questioning and active listening was already so impressive but even more impressive, when you consider they had never engaged with these ideas before. And we had fun learning.
We played games to solidify our new knowledge and skills.