We are now halfway through the fall term Inside-Out Alumni Book Club with the youth at Serbu. This time around we have twelve youth and eight Inside-Out Alumni! We are reading Calvin and Hobbes, and the term is going amazingly well. Melissa Crabbe held a second Inside-Out facilitator training for the alumni who are participating, and this was a fabulous opportunity to work through best practices and trouble shooting, in addition to gaining the skills Melissa was teaching. We are becoming quite the team of alumni together.
Only two I/O alumni were able to participate who had been involved over the summer. Ted and myself are therefore leading the group, with the new participants as extremely active members of the group. Five of the youth are participating again from the summer, and only one summer participant chose not to rejoin the group (the others were released). The more balanced numbers are great: we have done wagon wheels, held small group discussions, and overall had a much more involved and integrated feeling in the room with the balance of youth and I/O Alumni.
Two weeks ago, we had a half-hour discussion of the ideas of "fate" and "destiny," inspired (of course) by Calvin and Hobbes. We talked about free will, and about the possibly contradictory idea that everything happens for a reason. The youth were eloquent on both counts, reflecting both a desire to feel control over their actions and a need for the security of a guiding plan to life. The level of dialogue, consistent with our own Inside-Out experiences, was much higher than what is often achieved in a college classroom. On Friday, we discussed war and peace, our tendency to turn violence into entertainment, and the damage this has on individual lives. People were so willing to be vulnerable, and to ask questions (the comic dealt with Mutually Assured Destruction and the Cold War, which the youth knew nothing about).
We'll see what comes up in the comics next. I'm hoping to have a conversation about bullying sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'm also hoping develop a final project, hopefully to include some comic strip writing and drawing of our own.
If anyone has suggestions for material, projects, or activities, I would love to hear them. In the meantime, expect more updates soon!
Katie D, University of Oregon