Monday, January 5, 2009

Disrupting the Cycle of Violence in South Africa: A Look at Two Projects that Aim to Reduce School-based Violence

December 9, 2008

Introduction

Many children in South Africa are born into a culture of violence and have been conditioned to use violent actions as a way of expressing their feelings and emotions.  These children, and the communities that surround them, are predominately poor and lack the opportunities to escape from the cycle of violence that has held them in captivity for so long.  It is the connection between violence, poverty, school systems and the community where strategic interventions that involve the government, non-government organizations and local citizens are greatly needed today.  The focus of this paper is on the cycle of violence embedded in South African culture and the work that two organizations are doing in schools to reduce youth violence.  The first section aims to paint a picture of the culture of violence in South Africa.  It will describe the common perpetrators and victims of violent crime, as well as the factors that lead to school-based violence.  The second section will provide a general overview of the various efforts being used to combat school-based violence in South Africa, as well as describe and compare two specific projects that have worked to reduce violence in and around schools.  The third section will analyze the impact of the two projects on their respective communities, as well as discuss best practices and areas where more emphasis will be needed for future work.     

Violence in South Africa

Who commits crimes?  Who is violated?  What kinds of crimes?

In South Africa there are many stories like Ted’s, a 12-year-old KwaZulu-Natal school student, who while walking to a shop saw his sister’s best friend get shot in the back of the neck for his bracelet. Another story is 11-year-old Mark’s, who while returning home from town with his mother, saw a taxi driver intervene between a quarreling young boy and girl.  After the quarrel, the boy walked up to the taxi driver, took out his gun, shot him in the head and ran away (van Rooyen & Gray, 2000).  These stories are common in cities like Durban, Johannesburg and many other urban areas in South Africa, and most often the source of the crime can be found in and around schools.  In a survey conducted among South African learners between the ages of 13 and 19, 13 percent had experienced and survived gunshot assaults and only 61 percent felt that they were safe at school.  The other 39 percent who do not feel safe are much more likely to take guns and knives to school to protect themselves, and ultimately makes them more susceptible to carrying out a crime in the future (van Rooyen & Gray, 2000).

South Africa is rife with crime, and because the population is so young due to a variety of factors which will be discussed later, most of the crime is committed by and against poor, black, young males.  Research conducted by The Human Science Research Council in 1996 and compiled by Child Protection Unit (CPU) revealed that school-based violence, crime and behavioral issues affects boys more than girls; most criminals who commit and die from crimes of violence are black male youth; black young females are most likely to be affected by rape, child abuse and domestic violence; and violence that affects children is not random, but is usually perpetrated between acquaintances (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999).  The evidence from the CPU research, as well as police reports, shows that school-aged children from poor townships are most susceptible to acts of violence and crime.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) (1999) report on offences against children under 18 years old, between 1994 and 1998, found that rape was the highest reported crime, and doubled from 7,559 cases in 1994 to 15,732 cases in 1998.  Indecent and common assault also had high amounts of reported incidents, with almost 8,000 combined reports in 1998.  Other significantly reported crimes against children were child-care ill-treatment with 3,755 cases and kidnapping with 1,200 cases in 1998 (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999).  These statistics reveal that violence and crime perpetrated against and by children and adolescents are high and will continue to increase.         

Factors that lead to school-based violence and crime

With a multitude of statistics available that describe the high levels of violence and crime by South African youth, the next logical question is, “what are the underlying factors that lead to school-based violence and crime in South Africa?”  There are a variety of factors that cause crime and violence in schools, such as poverty, age, race, sex and gender, boundary disputes, gang warfare, family issues, school performance, substance abuse and the school itself (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999; Harber, 2003).  The IPT writes that the quintessential criminal in South Africa is “a poor young Black male, under 19, from a disadvantaged community, who has a dysfunctional family, a history of victimization, does badly at school, and may be abusing a substance.” (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999: 10).  But why is this the case?  Though all of the above criteria are critical for describing the nature of crime in South Africa, due to limited space I will focus on the continuing effects of apartheid and the school as causes of violence. 

Apartheid and violence

During apartheid in South Africa, there was an absence of formal policing to control the peace and protect black communities from crime and political violence.  In response to this shortage, “militarized youth” were organized to bring security and justice to the streets in South African townships.  After the end of apartheid, and after the first democratic elections in 1994, these militarized youth were still in abundance and had yet to find a productive role in society (Harber, 2003). 

The problem of reintegrating child soldiers or militarized youth back into society can be found in war-torn countries around the world.  Young boys and girls whom were conscripted to fight during their formative years lacked an education, technical skills, and social skills with which to apply to a future career or a productive lifestyle after the conflict had been resolved.  Unfortunately this problem has also proven to be true in South African townships, where many of these previously militarized youth have become frustrated due to a lack of gainful employment opportunities and became involved in violent activities such as robbery, drug trafficking and car-jacking to earn a living (Harber, 2003).  The problem of militarized youth will not be solved any time soon, as it is a part of a larger cycle of violence and poverty.  In a report by the South African Daily News in 1999, about 34 percent of the South African population was under the age of 15 in 1996, and was predicted to increase by five percent in the following decade (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999).  This clearly indicates that youth are at high risk for violence and will continue to be so in the future.

Schools and violence

The community, families and schools are the three main areas where many organizations are focusing their efforts to reduce school-based violence and to improve the livelihoods of community members.  It can be expected that crime and violence are bred in impoverished, marginalized families and communities where few economic opportunities, stable family environments or sense of security exists, but surprisingly it is the schools themselves that are a large reason for continuing the cycle of violence, especially in South Africa. 

Schools have perpetuated violence through their punishment systems, organizational management and tolerance of sexual and racial inequality.  The use of corporal punishment in many South Africa schools is a direct result of the top-down authoritative approach commonly used by teachers and administrators.  In South Africa, it is common to hear educators state that “the teacher knows best, and to learn about what is right and wrong one has to suffer” (Harber, 2003: 80).  John H. Meier discussed the importance of reducing corporal punishment of children: “The roots of much family violence and even much international violence are traceable to violent child rearing and punitive pedagogic procedures” (McKendrick & Hoffmann, 1990: 354).  Though corporal punishment became illegal in South Africa in the late 1990’s, there is evidence that it continues to be widely used today. 

The organizational systems in South Africa are also a reason for creating youth violence.  A majority of African countries run not only their governments, but their schools as well in an authoritarian, centralized, and hierarchical format, and South Africa is no exception.  Stemming from the methods used in schools during apartheid that stressed obedience and student passivity (Harber, 2003), the schools of today continue to discourage participation and democratic processes in their classrooms.  The suppression of students’ critical thinking skills, communication, and creativity leads to a closed environment where problems are not discussed and solutions are not voiced.

Racial and gender inequality is also an issue perpetuated by South African schools.  Inequality is a direct result of the separation between races during apartheid and cannot hope to be fixed quickly (Harber, 2003).  In a report done by the South African Human Rights Commission (1999), it was found in a survey of ten Durban schools that only one school was making an effort to teach and promote diversity and equality in its curricula.  In the other nine schools, most students were divided into their racial cliques throughout the day and racial stereotypes were commonly believed and used against others (Harber, 2003).  Sexism has also been a catalyst for violence in schools, which is evident in the unequal pay of female and male teachers, the preference of “manly” subjects for boys and the emphasis in the curriculum on preparing women for housewifery (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999).  Clive Harber explained that there is a great need for gender equality reform in schools, because

Creating more peaceful schools and a more peaceful society cannot be achieved in South Africa and elsewhere without playing a part in the creation and fostering of forms of masculine identity not predicated on proving manliness through various forms of martial activity, fighting and violence.  (Harber, 2003: 81, 82)

Without working towards equality between blacks, whites, coloreds and indians, as well as between males and females, the unequal control of power by certain races or sexes will continue the cycle of violence in the schools and the country.

Efforts to Combat Violence in South Africa

Three areas of focus for school-based violence interventions: Family, Communities and Schools

Since the end of apartheid in the late 1980’s and South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, much work has been done by NGOs to bring peace and prosperity to the country, and to end the culture of violence.  Many NGOs work at local or regional levels and target various aspects of society to reduce youth violence, though an interesting observation was made by the Independent Projects Trust (IPT) that while working in school-based violence interventions for almost a decade, they had not collaborated with or knew little of the work that other NGOs were doing in similar or related fields.  The lack of knowledge sharing and the opportunity to share best practices, failures and challenges with other NGOs was significantly stalling their progress (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999).  Their study of multiple initiatives found that there was no single initiative that worked best, but “the implementation of broad based interventions, involving schools, families, communities and other support agencies” (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999: 21) and working in conjunction with each other was an essential element for success.  The various initiatives have targeted their efforts at the family, community and schools, and have even crossed boundaries to increase their effectiveness.

Family, community and school initiatives have been relatively successful in reducing school-based violence and poverty within the Durban and Johannesburg areas, though due to a limited amount of space in this paper, I will discuss the different approaches being used by schools to reduce youth violence in the following section.

NGO strategies to reduce school-based violence

There are a multitude of initiatives designed by NGOs to work with youth to reduce violence throughout South Africa.  These projects and programs have been through various phases of development throughout the post-apartheid years.  Some have been insular in their approaches, yet others have joined forces with NGOs that are working in different capacities to tackle the problem of school-based violence. 

Some programs target youth, but are not always associated with schools.  These include supervision programs that have been created to give youth constructive activities to focus their attention during afterschool hours.  These types of programs include afterschool programs and youth clubs like the African Association of Youth Clubs and the YMCA.  Poverty alleviation programs have also been used to give youth technical and business skills for earning a small income as well as giving them a vision for future employment.  South African NGOs that focus on poverty alleviation are the Joint Enrichment Program, Junior Achievement South Africa and the Twilight Project.  Another subset of programs focuses on building interpersonal skills for youth.  These programs include mentoring partnerships as well as mediation and conflict resolution training.  The United States-based Big Brothers and Sisters and the Cape Town-based Centre for Conflict Resolution are examples that have been effective.  Programs that focus on reducing gang activity and the use of guns in an effort to prevent violence and crime are also widely popular (Palmary, 2003). 

Other programs, as described by a team of researchers at IPT (1999), have been implemented in schools to reduce youth violence in and around the schools.  These programs include safe schools programs that aim to create a safe environment for students to learn and educators to teach; healthy behavior programs that focus on educating students in HIV prevention, safe sex and skills for living healthy lives; democratic school management programs that give students opportunities for more advocacy and participation in a school’s curriculum, discipline and management; alternatives to corporal punishment programs that train teachers how to effectively discipline students without resorting to physical violence; guidance programs that counsel youth after having a traumatic violent experience; and environmental programs that secure the physical safety of the schools through painting, making repairs, cutting grass, graffiti removal, etc (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999).  The implementation of this wide variety of programs varies across South Africa.  Some NGOs focus only on one specific area of violence reduction, while other NGOs specialize and combine two or three of these programs to make the most effective impact in their area.  Within the above listed programs that work to reduce school-based violence, there are two projects that I would like to analyze.

A Tale of Two projects

The first project was developed by the Independent Projects Trust (IPT), which is based in Durban, South Africa.  The project was called the Community Alliance for Safe Schools (CASS), was implemented in 1997 and concluded in 2001 (Griggs, 2002).  This project contained a mixture of safe school, democratic school management, and conflict resolution training programs.  The second project was created by the Johannesburg-based Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR).  The project is called the 40 Schools Project, which began in 1996 and focused its efforts on 40 Soweto township schools.  This project includes the creation of safe school plans, conflict resolution and mediation training, guidance counseling and environmental programs (Griggs, 2002).  Below, I will analyze the goals of these two projects, their relative effectiveness in achieving their goals, as well as a comparison of the two projects.

Community Alliance for Safe Schools

A task team known as the Community Alliance for Safe Schools (CASS) was born in 1997 after a meeting led by the Independent Projects Trust (IPT) in Durban.  At this meeting, where more than 40 voluntary, non-government, community-based and government organizations were represented, IPT reported on the high levels of violence prevalent in the Durban-area schools (IPT, 2000). Soon following the meeting, a consensus was reached among the participants that a community-based answer to the problem of violence in schools was greatly needed and a mission statement for CASS was created. 

The CASS mission statement has three objectives.  The first is to build partnerships between people and organizations in the community that will give all of its participants a “sense of ownership” in the schools.  The second objective is to activate members of the community to protect its children.  The third objective is to train and equip school governing bodies with relevant information that will create safe school environments for learners and educators (IPT, 2008).  It is with these three goals in mind that CASS member organizations have worked together to stop the cycle of violence in their communities. 

Within the framework of its mission statement, CASS implemented a two-phase project that ran from 1999 to 2001 called the Pilot Project and the Safe Schools Project.  These projects focused on a small number of schools in the KwaZulu-Natal province and used simple, inexpensive methods to improve school security and safety in a short amount of time (Harber, 2000).  They were also designed to be holistic in nature, and to create accountable people with the skills, structures and partnerships for developing and implementing a school security plan (Griggs, 2002).

The first phase was called the Pilot Project, which ran from April 1999 to October 1999 and was funded by Interfund (Interfund ceased to exist as an organization in 2005).  This project focused on three schools in the Durban area, all of which were located within one to two miles of each other and were all considered to be ‘ordinary’ schools in the South African context.  These schools had had some problems with crime and violence and they were all ethnically diverse.  Workshops, conducted by IPT, were used to teach and train the workshop participants on whole school issues that were raised by an IPT-produced text, titled, “Protecting Your School From Violence and Crime: Guidelines for Principals and School Governing Bodies” (IPT, 1999).  The schools used this text to define their own needs and priorities, and to take action through the design of a school security plan (Harber, 2000).  Between April and October 1999, three workshops were held that included principals, teachers, members of school governing bodies, members of the representative council of learners and the police.  The first workshop hoped to gauge the levels of school security by issuing a 50-point diagnostic questionnaire.  The second workshop focused on the writing of a school security plan.  The third workshop was composed solely of learners, and focused on school safety, negotiation skills, communication skills and group problem solving skills (Harber, 2000).  Evaluation of the project was administered by Clive Harber, and included the use of documentation, observation of the workshops and interviews with the principals, teachers, governing bodies, student representatives and the police (Harber, 2000).

The second phase of the CASS program was called the Safe Schools Project, which ran from November 2000 to April 2001 and was partially funded by the Open Society Foundation.  This project was similar to the Pilot Project, but was expanded to reach 40 schools in the Durban area.  It also differed from the Pilot Project in that it held workshops with each school individually, as well as used an “asset-based approach” that focused on the strengths of the schools involved, rather than the gaps and weaknesses in their performance (Griggs, 2002).  This project also conducted a series of workshops, one of which included management training, the purpose of which being to “create a participative and democratic school management framework based on the development of core skills.” (Griggs, 2002)  To monitor the progress of the interventions, IPT developed a 50-point questionnaire to determine whether the schools had effectively implemented a safety plan.  The questionnaire was also administered at a later date in conjunction with monthly site visits and informal interviews.  There was also an evaluation written by an external evaluator, Kaylene Jackson, based on interviews with workshop participants (Griggs, 2002).

Post-project evaluations found the Pilot Project and the Safe Schools project to be both efficient and effective, as well as having a positive impact on the individuals and communities involved.  The projects also helped to raise important questions that revealed some of the remaining challenges and obstacles to be considered before peace can become a reality in South African schools and communities.  Further analysis on the impact of this project will be discussed later in the section titled, “Impact and further research.”

40 Schools Project

The Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) was created in 1989 with the aim of helping South Africa to achieve a smooth transition to democracy.  In 1994, they began working together with four schools in Soweto to create peace with the goal of stopping the “cycle of violence.”  After achieving some success within the four schools, they expanded the project to 40 schools in 1996 and implemented conflict and trauma management training for their learners and educators.  The project was called the 40 Schools Project and was partially funded by the Open Society Foundation.  Though the project had had some success, in 1999 CSVR and the school governing bodies realized that rather than focus on the symptoms of violence, as the original project had, it would be more effective to focus on the causes.  This resulted in the creation of “safety teams” within the schools through various training seminars, provision of materials and facilitation by CSVR and school governing bodies (Griggs, 2002).  The ultimate goal of the programs and activities was to give youth a “voice” with which to express concerns and participate in the decision-making in their respective schools (CSVR, 2008)  

The purpose for the creation of the “safety teams” was four-fold.  The first was to provide teachers with training for working with students who had experienced trauma related to violence, crime or abuse (Griggs, 2002).  The teachers were also trained in alternative methods to corporal punishment, diversity issues, human rights and anti-racism practices (CSVR, 2008).  The second was to provide training for students in peer counseling and mediation skills.  The third was to create partnerships between the schools and the community as a resource and referral base.  The fourth was to develop safe environmental designs for the schools (Griggs, 2002). 

In the end, 38 of the 40 schools implemented safety teams in their schools and many positive effects were a result.  In an internal evaluation conducted in November 2000, CSVR found that the safety teams helped to create a more normalized school environment, built better relationships between the schools and education authorities, created awareness for dealing with crime-related issues, improved students’ leadership skills and increased respect and trust for police (CSVR, 2008). 

A comparison of the CASS and 40 Schools Project: two projects that used school-level interventions to reduce violence

Both the Community Alliance for Safe Schools project and the 40 Schools Project were effectively implemented in their respective communities of Durban and Johannesburg, and both resembled and differed from each other in various ways.  Both projects were similar in that they involved members of the community and families in the process to develop safe schools.  They also involved the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the various training curricula, which helped to reduce much of the negative stigma associated with the SAPS that remained from the apartheid era.  Both projects also clustered schools in groups of two or three during the various training sessions.  The clustering allowed the schools to express difficulties and roadblocks that were hindering success, as well as to share best practices which provided encouragement and a sense of solidarity in the process.

Though both of the projects shared many similarities, there were also variations in their approaches.  In all of the schools where the CASS project was involved, student representatives were included in the training workshops, whereas in the 40 Schools project, only students from the high schools participated in the training workshops.  Though the difference is not a large one, the inclusion of students in the training workshops, even from a young age, gives them a sense of ownership and participation in the process of creating a safe school environment.  Another difference between the projects was that the 40 Schools Project included the creation of an environmental design for each of its schools, which revealed the importance they placed on the physical appearance of a school for making it safe.  A final difference between the two projects was the CASS project’s emphasis on creating a more democratic form of school management.  Many authors agree that the reduction of authoritarian management and an increase in democratic management within South African schools is a key ingredient for successfully creating safer schools (Matthews & Caine, 1998: 118; Experience Review, 1999: 19; Harber, 2003: 82).  In 1992, Kreisberg noted that:

Empowered schools must be educational communities coalesced around a core of values, guided by a sense of hope and possibility, grounded in a belief in justice and democracy.  These communities must nourish the voices of all their members; they must provide contexts in which people can speak and listen, learn and grow, and let go of ideas, in order to move on to better ideas.  (in Matthews & Caine, 1998: 118) 

The many similarities and differences found within these two projects reveal some of the diverse methods and techniques that have been used to reduce violence, crime and conflict in South African schools.  Though these projects appear to have been effective, there are still questions that remain to be answered.  Are these projects achieving their goals to reduce youth violence?  Are they the most effective methods for reducing violence?  What needs to be done to increase the effectiveness of programs like these? Below I will attempt to answer these questions.  

Impact and Further Research

What impact are these projects having on families, schools and communities?

This question is difficult to answer because the impact of these projects cannot be easily quantified or qualified in the short term.  There are many initiatives currently working to reduce conflict and create peace in South Africa, but the impact of “peacebuilding from below initiatives” as Jacklyn Cock (2001) defines projects such as the CASS and the 40 Schools Project, may not have quantifiable or qualifiable results for an entire generation (Cock, 2001).  Though hard statistics will not be available for perhaps another ten years, both CASS and 40 Schools Project are currently moving in the right direction by addressing the roots of violence and crime, rather than the symptoms.  The projects have also realistically attempted to manage conflict and violence, rather than trying to stop it altogether, which historically has tended to overlook many important issues for reducing youth violence (Cock, 2001). 

As seen from the perspective of the participants involved in the projects, short-term results were encouragingly positive.  After the completion of the CASS project, survey results showed that 64 percent of schools had created safety committees and 57 percent had implemented safety plans.  93 percent of educators considered the project to have a moderate impact due to changed perceptions of violence and 71 percent of educators felt that their schools were safer.  A majority of students involved were excited with the outcomes (Griggs, 2002).  There was also evidence from one police station in a CASS community that the levels of crime and violence had decreased after the implementation of the project (Harber, 2000).  The 40 Schools Project was also found to be overwhelmingly successful in the short run.  38 out of the 40 schools developed safety teams and had written safety policies (Griggs, 2002).  Many of the schools also reported that the safety teams were self-sustaining, brought an increased sense of normalization within the schools’ environments, created a better relationship between the schools and the education authorities and increased awareness for dealing with crime and violence-related issues (CSVR, 2008).  

How do crime rates compare from 2001 to 2007?

The post-project survey results from the CASS and 40 Schools Projects revealed relative success within the schools and in the surrounding communities.  In comparing national and provincial crime statistics from 2001 and 2007 by the South African Police Service (SAPS), there seems to be some correlation between the CASS and 40 Schools projects and a reduction in violent crime in South Africa.  Nationally, the overall murder rate dropped 5.7 percent, reported rape incidents dropped 2.6 percent, common assault dropped 4.2 percent and common robbery dropped 11.5 percent (SAPS Crime Report, 2007).  On a provincial level, KwaZulu Natal province, where Durban is located, and Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located, also showed decreased crime rates.  Within the two provinces between 2001 and 2007, murder, rape, common assault and common robbery declined, with the exception of KwaZulu Natal’s reported rape cases (SAPS KwaZulu Natal, 2007; SAPS Gauteng, 2007).

It has yet to be statistically verified how much impact the above-mentioned safe schools projects have had in decreasing violent crime from 2001 to 2007, though evidence from the 2007 SAPS crime reports reveal that the implementation of these and other violence-reducing initiatives have had a positive effect in reduction of the crime rates throughout South Africa.

What practices need to continue and what new ideas should be considered?

The above SAPS statistics and survey results from the two projects provide us with some encouragement for continuing these types of initiatives in the future.  Though violence and crime levels are declining, the problem of school-based youth violence continues to be an enormous problem in South Africa, and more needs to be done.  Valerie Dovey (1996) reminds us that projects like CASS and the 40 Schools Projects are an essential element for bringing peace to South Africa, but that this work “should be regarded as a long-term process that requires flexibility and openness rather than adherence to rigid preset agendas with schools taking account of their own needs, capabilities, and characters.” (Dovey, 1996: 144)  It was also highly recommended by the Matthews, Griggs and Caine (1999) that the community be included in the process of reducing violence in the schools, because a “lack of community consultation often leads to objections or at best disinterest and programs fail for lack of participation.” (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999: 31)  Nowhere in the research that I conducted, were religious figures or bodies mentioned as a possible resource for reducing youth violence.  Involving churches, mosques, temples and Faith-based organizations (FBO) in the safe schools projects could prove to be an effective method for reducing youth violence.  In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Learning and Mentoring Partnerships (LAMP) program, designed by a non-denominational Christian church to provide White suburban mentors for predominately Black and Hispanic urban youth, has proven to be very effective in reducing violence and poverty in one urban neighborhood (www.northway.org/secondary/outreach/lamp.html).  Partnerships between religious actors and schools could be a unique medium for reducing youth violence through the integration of various races, classes and cultures within the still highly segregated South Africa. 

Conclusion

Currently South Africa is ranked as having one of the highest violent crime rates in the world.  This is due to a variety of factors, including post-apartheid racial and class segregation, militarized youth, rapid immigration from many African nations, political unrest and a cycle of violence that continues to gain momentum.  The perpetrators of this violence are predominately impoverished young, black males with little or no education, and the victims tend to be young black females.  Therefore, in bringing peace to and reducing violence in South Africa, efforts must be focused in areas where poor, black youth are concentrated. 

The CASS project and the 40 Schools Project are two projects that have recognized the dire need for stopping the cycle of violence, and have found that the school is a prime training ground for accomplishing this task.  These projects aim to reduce violence through the training of students, educators and community members in mediation and conflict resolution techniques, through increasing the level of democratic participation, through creating a safe environment where teachers and students can feel free and not live in fear, and through connecting families, communities and schools in a tight communication network where information flows freely and smoothly. 

The efforts that these projects put forth have been very successful, but they are in no way complete.  They must rely on coordinated efforts with other local and international organizations, schools, communities, families and the police to accomplish their goals.  They must also create long-term goals for their projects and persevere through the many trials and difficulties inherent in the fight for peace.  For the cycle and culture of violence is not one to be changed in the short run, but only through the constant and combined efforts of the people of South Africa and the world will violence be reduced and peace gained.  


References

Caine, G., Matthews, I.  (1998).  Voices for democracy: a north-south dialogue on education for sustainable democracy. (C. Harber, Ed.) Education Now Publishing Co-operative: Nottingham, England.

Cock, J.  (2001).  Butterfly wings and green shoots: the impact of peace organizations in South Africa.  Track Two, 10(1), http://www.ccr.uct.ac.za/archive/two/10_1/p04_butterfly_wings.html

CSVR.  (2008).   http://www.csvr.org.za/wits/projects/youth.htm

Dovey, V.  (1996).  Exploring peace education in South African settings.  Peabody Journal of Education, 71(3), 128-150.

Griggs, R.  (2002, September).  Preventing crime and violence in South African schools: A review of learning and good practice from eight interventions.  (pp. 31-39).  Open Society Foundation for South Africa: Claremont, South Africa.

Harber, C.  (2000).  Protecting your school from violence and crime: An evaluation of a one year program.  Independent Projects Trust: Durban, South Africa.

Harber, C.  (2003).  Conflict resolution and peace education in Africa.  (E. Uwazie, Ed.).  Lexington Books: Lanham, Maryland.

Holdstock, T.L.  (1990).  People and violence in South Africa.  (B. McKendrick, W. Hoffmann, Eds.)  Oxford University Press: Cape Town.

Independent Projects Trust (IPT).  (1999, March).  Protecting your school from violence and crime: Guidelines for principals and school governing bodies.  Independent Projects Trust: Durban, South Africa.

IPT.  (2000).  Annual Report.  Independent Projects Trust.

IPT.  (2008).  Brief introduction to the IPT-sponsored Community Alliance for Safe Schools.  http://www.ipt.co.za/safe_schools.asp

LAMP Program.  (2008).  www.northway.org/secondary/outreach/lamp.html

Matthews, I., Griggs, R., Caine, G.  (1999, July 15).  The experience review of interventions and programmes dealing with youth violence in urban schools in South Africa.  Independent Projects Trust.

Palmary, I.  (2003, December 2).  Youth position paper prepared for the crime prevention alliance.  Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation: Cape Town.

SAPS Crime Report.  (2007) http://www.saps.gov.za/statistics/reports/crimestats/2007/april_sept2007/crime_report20062007.pdf

SAPS Crime Report: KwaZulu Natal.  (2007). http://www.saps.gov.za/statistics/reports/crimestats/2007/april_sept2007/provinces/kzn/kzn_prov_total.pdf

SAPS Crime Report: Gauteng.  (2007). http://www.saps.gov.za/statistics/reports/crimestats/2007/april_sept2007/provinces/gt/gt_prov_total.pdf

van Rooyen, C., Gray, M.  (2000).  Children and crime.  KwaZulu Natal Newspaper.  

An Analysis of Justin McCabe’s Path Towards Success in the Conflict Resolution field

November 14, 2008

The increased strain being placed on religious, cultural, political, national, environmental and personal boundaries due to globalization and our shrinking world is more than a valid reason to strengthen the focus of national and local governments, community and religious leaders and educators in the area of conflict prevention education.  I believe that it is much simpler and more effective to form strong, moral and thoughtful leaders and citizens from a young age, rather than re-shape the thoughts and actions of adult leaders and citizens after their characters and intellects are set and more resistant to change.  It is through this lens of educating youth in conflict prevention that I hope to develop my skills at GSPIA and in an internship for a future career.

Upon graduation from GSPIA I would like to work with or create a grassroots conflict prevention organization in Mozambique or southern Africa that focuses on youth education with an emphasis on leadership training, cultural awareness and gender equality.  Ideally, this organization would work with the government, communities and schools to develop an educational curriculum that fosters peace as well as economic and personal development within the community. 

Up until this point in my life, I have gained a thin, though solid base of transferable skills and experiences that I can use in a position within this field.  These include: teaching English, English methodology and religion to all ages, varying from primary school students to retirees; working with education officials and understanding the systems in both the Japanese Board of Education and the Mozambican Ministry of Education; leadership skills gained from captaining soccer teams, leading Habitat for Humanity volunteer groups to India and organizing a youth volunteer camp in Japan; Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish and Shengana language skills acquired from living and interacting in countries that speak those languages; development of creativity and motivation through various clubs and projects that I started, such as the “English at the Beach” club in Mozambique, the “World Religions” discussion group in Japan and the multiple “India Festival” fundraising events in Japan; as well as marketing and management techniques and knowledge gained from an undergraduate business degree. 

The above skills and experiences I gained have been highly influential in bringing me to GSPIA, yet I believe there are five areas where I still lack the knowledge and techniques to be effective in the preventative conflict resolution field.  First, I need a greater understanding of the nature of conflict and to be better able to answer these questions:  From what does conflict arise?  What are its triggers?  How is it resolved?  How is it prevented?  What are the main challenges to creating peace?  Second, I need skills that will help me to understand and work more effectively with communities, organizations and governments on issues of conflict and education.  Third, I need to gain more technical skills, such as grant writing, project monitoring and evaluation, community assessment and conflict resolution curriculum planning.  Fourth, I need to learn ‘best practices’ when it comes to educational approaches, programs and techniques that can both prevent and resolve conflict.  Lastly, I need more practical experiences in conflict prevention through one or more internship experiences. 

There are many organizations throughout the world that place an emphasis on peace education, though it is difficult to know which organization can give me the skills and experiences that I need.  Throughout my research, two organizations in particular seemed to provide the practical skills and knowledge for success in the conflict resolution and development field.  These organizations are the LAMP Ministry and Seeds for Peace.

The Pittsburgh-based LAMP Ministry is a relatively new project that partners suburban adult mentors with children from the Helen Faison Primary and Middle Schools in the predominately African-American urban neighborhood of Homewood.  This project was designed to not only develop the emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing of children, but also to develop the community that surrounds them.  In an area of the city with high crime rates and gang activity, as well as high levels of poverty and drug use, the opportunity to work with this project could be a dynamic training ground for sharpening and adding to the skills that I will need for future work.

Participation in the Seeds of Peace organization could also prove beneficial to my future goals.  The Seeds of Peace is a summer camp that brings together young leaders from some of the world’s high conflict regions, such as Palestine and Israel, and Pakistan and India.  At the camp, councilors and facilitators teach the youth leadership skills with the ultimate goal of transmitting a message of coexistence and reconciliation to their respective countries.  As a camp facilitator, I would have the opportunity to create and lead conflict resolution sessions among the youth and monitor their progress.  I would also obtain an insiders view into the roots of conflict, an up close perspective of the dynamics between conflicting groups, the opportunity to test educational techniques for creating peaceful leaders, as well as experience the challenges that will inevitably arise in working with conflicting groups.

As I am still in my first semester at GSPIA, I know there is still much to gain from my coursework that will give shape to my goal of working in the preventative conflict resolution field.  With my previous experiences, the guidance of GSPIA professors and the subject matter of their courses, as well as the experiences I will gain from internships, either locally or internationally, I feel confident that I can achieve the goals that are set before me.  

JANAMA Recap

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you all healthy and living life to its’ fullest.  I’ve been trying to format this letter in my mind for the last few weeks, and am only now, the day I leave for JAJMA (Justin’s Amazing Japanese Mentor Adventure…for a lack of a better name) for which I will be gone for two months, am sitting down to write this.  I first wanted to thank everyone along the JANAMA road for taking time out of your busy schedules to open your homes up to me, for showing me the sites your town is famous for, for introducing me to your friends and family, for making some incredible meals and desserts and for treating me to meals, movies and luxurious bus rides.  The only way that I can truly return the favor is for you to come and visit me here in Pittsburgh at some point over the next two years.  Being a poor grad student and all, I don’t know if I’ll be able to pay for luxurious bus rides, but I might (location yet to be determined) have a space on my floor for a futon and sleeping bag. 

I guess I kind of alluded to the second thing I wanted to say in this E-mail, which was…I have decided to attend the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School for Public and International Affairs with a major in Human Security and Conflict Resolution starting this fall!  Are you psyched?!!  It was an extremely difficult decision to make, especially with the options of living and studying in places like Monterey, Boston and Vermont.  Bu in the end, a decision had to be made (you know how bad I am at doing that), and Pittsburgh pulled out on top by a hair.   I won’t list all of the reasons for my Pitt decision here, but besides the strong program, scholarship money and close proximity to home and family, there are some reasons that I thought you might be interested in knowing.   One reason was that during my time abroad over the last five years I’d realized how much I don’t know about my own city and culture, and that living in Pittsburgh for a few years (with the degree that I’m hoping to acquire, the probability of living in Pittsburgh afterwards is pretty low) would be a great way to get to know and reconnect with my roots.  Another reason was political.  Over the last five years I have been living in a predominately liberal expat community, from which I have learned a great deal.  But, I was excited and interested at the prospect of having a more eclectic mix of political viewpoints at Pitt that could sharpen and give me a more balanced stance on world issues.  Some other reasons were its closeness to Washington D.C., its connections to both Asia and Africa, and its being in a large city…but this is probably boring most of you right out of your skulls, so I’ll stop there.

The last thing that I wanted to write in this letter was about JANAMA itself.  I was thinking of just copying my journal pages in here for you to peruse, but I thought that might be a little tedious for you and for me.  So what I decided to do was to divide the trip itself into categories and allow you to come to your own conclusions.  So, here we go…

JANAMA route:  PittsburghàNYCàLong IslandàBostonàDuxbury, MAàStroudsburg, PAàWashington D.C.àCharlotte, NC àRaleigh, NCàJacksonville, FLàWashington D.CàSouth Bend, INàChicagoàBloomington, ILàDenver, COàColorado Springs, COàSacramento, CAàSan JoseàMontereyàSan FranciscoàPortland, ORàCamano Island, WAàVancouver, BCàWhistler, BCàVictoria, BCàSeattle, WAàChicagoàPittsburgh

Modes of transport: train, bus, luxury bus, ferry, luxury ferry, bike, snowboard, golf cart, plane

Books readTao Te Ching, Lao Tzu; The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry; Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard. (I didn’t get as much reading done as I had expected)   

Games played:  Settlers (an amazing game!) with Ted, Kim, Chris and Merce; Liars Dice with Billy; Pub Quiz (a strong victory) with Mike, Kebra and Nate; Clue with Rich, Doug and Shana; Scrabble (another strong victory) with Phil and Annie; Bowling with Mike, Nate and Kebra; Pool with Tom

Sports: Golf with dad; Basketball with Phil; Snowboarding with Sean; Cycling on Camano Island; Hiking with Elizabeth, Billy, Ted and Kim; Disc Golf with Ted, Chris, Merce and Mackenzie; Frisbee with Ted (45 throws without moving our feet!);

Wild animals that I saw: sea lions, sea otters, caribou, deer, antelope, prairie dogs, coyote, llama, bald eagle, ducks, geese, mountain goats (my fave)

Music:  Nick Drake and Brad Meldau on my headphones; a nice Jazz club in South Bend; Archbishop Mitty pep band in Sacramento, CA; Irish jigs on Saint Patty’s day weekend in San Francisco; Traci’s wedding jazz band in Portland; Chris Wilkes’ amazing mixed CD’s in Victoria

MoviesPersepolis in Stroudsburg; There Will Be Blood in DC; The 3rd Man in South Bend; Into the Wild (reminded me about about…well, me) in Colorado Springs; Darjeeling Express (watched it alone after everyone fell asleep) in Charlotte

Meals: Elizabeth’s Indian surprise; Mr. Dillon’s swordfish; Sheila’s chicken cacciatore; Phil’s chicken and potatoes and Annie’s “Special Salad”; Nana’s crab salad (I can’t remember the real name of it for the life of me); Traci and Vegen’s Voodoo doughnuts; Mrs. Hayduck’s veggy meat loaf

Desserts:  Mrs. Gruhn’s blueberry muffins and chocolate chip cookies; Mrs. Hayduck’s ambrosia pie and bran muffins; Poppy’s friends’ chocolate chip cookies; Merce’s brownies with ice cream; Elizabeth’s sugar free apple cake; Mrs. Dillon’s carrot cake

Really interesting jobs that my friends have (not that your other jobs aren’t interesting):  Yoga and Palates instructor(s); Times Square singing waitress; Belly dancer; Body harvester; House cleaner; Green builder; Chocolate factory repairman and malt ball coater

Some common themes in conversations we had: Debt; Money; Simplifying; Trying to find the “right one”; Looking for meaning in life and work; Kids; International work and development

Dinner invites with friends and parents:  Mike; Elizabeth; Torin and Alice; Billy; Traci; Chris and Merce.  Thanks so much for setting those get-togethers up you guys.  I really had a great time getting to know your friends and fams.

Weddings I crashed:  It was so great to see you Traci.  I pray that your marriage with Vegen will be blessed to overflowing.

Sports fanatics I came in contact with (you know who you are):  Boston Celts, Red Socks and Pats fans; Notre Dame and Pitt fans; Archbishop Mitty Monarchs fans; Vancouver Canucks fans

Memorable views: The pond in Southampton, NY; Mountain views from the top of Winter Park, CO and Whistler/Blackcomb, BC ski resorts; Garden of the Gods, CO; Ocean view from Point Reyes State Park, CA; Red, white and green mountain side in CO State Park while on the train; Whitbey Island from Ted’s cabin on Camano Island, WA

Memorable memories: Walking in Central Park when the rain started to pour with Shana and Cami; Listening to records and playing Clue with Rich, Doug and Shana; Walk around Southampton with Elizabeth; Vegetarian Korean food and talking about the intricacies of www.match.com with Jen and Elizabeth; Winning the Pub Quiz in Stroudsburg with Mike, Kebra and Nate; Going to the Peace Corps job fair in DC and not taking it quite seriously enough with Susanna, Mike, Tom and Bak; Driving with Mike to Stroudsburg and DC; Going out to a Boston bar with Mike’s friends; Conversations about a future Yurt community in NC with Leah, Matt, Torin and Alice; Getting crushed at golf by my pops; Conversations and watching Fox news with Poppy (my grandfather); Trading international adventure stories with Josh Beck; Beating Phil and Annie at Scrabble; Visiting a clock shop with Alice and Torin;  Smoking a Hookah and drinking tea with Leslie; Feeding the snakes with Leslie; Being on Body Harvest call with Leslie;  Going out to lunch with Paul Reichart and Sean under the shadow of Pike’s Peak; Drinking the largest beer I’ve ever had in my life at a Mexican restaurant with Jon Titzel; Running to the train in Denver as it was pulling away, and making it; Ordering a second meal on accident at a random bar in Raleigh, NC and while walking back to the train being asked by a homeless man if I had any extra food (a definite God moment); St. Patty’s day pub crawl with Billy’s friends; Attending the Mass (I can’t remember what it was called exactly) that Kristen organized; The lunch and sea lions with Amanda in Monterey; Camping with Billy and the 11 mile hike at Point Reyes; My first lesbian bar and mission burrito experience in San Francisco with Malinda; The 10 hour drive to Portland from San Fran with Malinda; The walk under the cherry blossoms and afternoon beers with Ted, Malinda and Chris in Portland (sorry, no blue tarps were involved); Traci’s wedding party; Camano change of plans (Instead of taking the train from Vancouver to Toronto on March 25th, I decided to stay in Washington, Vancouver and Victoria until April 2nd…It was a great decision!); Walk over Deception Pass near Camano Island with Ted and Kim; Granville market walk with Merce, Chris, Mackenzie and Osh; Finding a 55$ ticket (with Ted’s help) to Whistler/Blackcomb ski resort on a Kokanee bus (Canadian beer company) on Craig’s List (The day included a round trip 2 hour bus ride from Vancouver to Whistler, food, beer, a lift pass, a taxi ride, a flash drive and much more…it was pretty sweet!); Smoking with Chris and Reiko; An awesome tour around Victoria with Chris Wilkes; And finally, watching the sunset over the islands while on a hi-speed ferry from Victoria to Seattle.

Well kids, I think that’s all I’ve got for you.  There are a lot of things I didn’t get in here, but they’re probably written somewhere in my journal or in our memories.  I’ll never forget the great North American Mentor Adventure!  After being away from North America for so long, I really did get a better idea of what the culture and lifestyle of my homeland is.  I also got a rare glimpse into your lives in your own elements, away from the protective bubbles of family, school, JET and Peace Corps, and I really appreciated that.   You are a great group of friends, and I am truly blessed to know you.  See or talk to you in a few months after I get back from Japan.

Peace and Love,

Justin

Monday, December 22, 2008

World Ultimate and Guts Championships--Vancouver 08


I flew into Vancouver on July 31st not really knowing what to expect.  I had no idea what my volunteering duties would be, who I would meet, where I would sleep and what I would eat, but I had faith in Mercedes (a friend of mine from my days in Japan, who was in charge of the volunteers at WUGC) that all of those things would be taken care of.  And they were, more than I could have ever imagined!  For the last 10 days, I was a servant for the greater good of the WUGC, but in return (and I wasn’t expecting much) I was treated like royalty.  Myself and the other 15 volunteers (there were around 400 volunteers, but only a handful volunteered every day, all day) stayed on the 17th floor of the Gage residence hall that overlooked Vancouver, the campus, the ocean or the mountains, depending on which side you were staying.  It was an absolutely great place to stay!  On top of that, all of our meals were provided throughout the week, both at the cafeteria and at Volunteer Central (the place from where the volunteers were coordinated).  Most of the food was very good.  Every evening when we finished working (around 8:00) my supervisor would open the fridge and hand all of us a cold beer, which tasted so good after a 12-hour day.  Free beer was provided throughout the week, and lots of “schwag” (free stuff) was to be had too.  I ended up leaving with 5 frisbees, 2 shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 gym bag, 3 water bottles and other stuff.  What I thought was the best part of the week were the variety of jobs that I got to do.  The first day we unpacked boxes, set up Volunteer Central, the players village and the fields, packed the players and volunteers packs, and other things.  Throughout the week, I delivered water to the fields, tore down two of the fields every night, delivered game discs, scored a Guts match (a CRAZY Frisbee game!), delivered newsletters every morning to different areas on campus, picked up trash, drove golf carts, checked-in new volunteers, did crowd control for the finals, etc., etc.  I did a lot of things and seemed to always be moving and the days went by very quickly.  I guess the work had something to do with that, but so did the people.

My first day volunteering, I met and worked with people who would be the friends that I hung out with throughout the week.  Dan, Christoph, Tony, Christianna, Adrienne, Bazz, Graham, Marcus, Jordan, Steve, Simon, David, Israel, were some of the many that I worked and sweated side by side with.  Most of them were great workers with great attitudes that kep the mood always light and refreshing.  Another great aspect of the week were the actual ultimate games.  Every day, out of 60 or so games, K would watch 2 or 3 from the mixed, open, women's, junior women's, junior men's, or Guts divisions.  They were all interesting in their own ways.  They were all very intense and spirited and most games ended with everything on the field.  Probably the highlight of the week was the men's final on Saturday afternoon between the U.S. (Sockeye) and Canada (Furious).  These guys were amazing athletes, playing almost flawless ultimate at an incredible pace.  You really had to see it to believe it!  The stadium was packed with people, the rain was coming down, the U.S. and Canadian fans were trying to out-cheer each other, some fans were watching from hot tubs next to the field and it was a tight game ending at 15 -17 with the Canadians as victors.

I'm probably leaving a ton out, like the times I hung out with Hayduck at the movies and sushi, or the walk to the beach on the first night, or the big parties with all the players and volunteers on Friday and Saturday nights, or the Volunteer BBQ where we got a bunch more Schwag, played ultimate and said goodbye to new friends, or watching some of the games with Chris's parents Dixie and Richard as well as McKenzie, or getting daily updates about Ashley's pregnancy (no news yet:(, or the amazingly beautiful people that play ultimate, or the walk at Stanley Park with Tony and Graham earlier today.

It really was an awesome week!  I guess that's all I've got for now.  I guess that means that it's time to get ready for school!  Sweet!

Help Me!!

I just wanted to preface this letter by saying that this was a very introspective and challenging time for me, though I did learn a ton.  I contemplated removing the names of my friends from the letter, but decided that it might take away from it if I did.  I hope you won't be angry with me :)

Hi Yuki san,
 
I`m not really sure how to start this E-mail, or exactly how I will structure it, but here it goes...
 
First, I wanted to say Thank You for being so upfront and honest with me.  I think that the E-mail that you sent a few days ago was hard to write and to send, just as it is hard to say difficult things to people, and I really appreciate you challenging me in the way I say and do things.  As I told you and your husband before, you remind me of my parents when I was younger, always bringing my mistakes to light and trying to help me find the solutions.  That is what it feels like you are doing for me now, and honestly, even though it is a difficult thing, it is something that is making me think deeply about myself, about the way I act, the way I relate to other people, and the way I live my life.  I truly respect the difficult step you made in E-mailing me, and I don`t want you to think that you made a mistake.  I think the Japanese can be very good at putting on a happy face, while inside they are hurting or angry.  This can sometimes be a good thing, but it can also lead to deeper and longer lasting pain if it is not talked about right away.  Thank you for being a wonderful friend and challenging me.
 
Secondly, you need to know that the reason that I came to Japan for these two months(or three...yet to be decided:) was not to just have fun.  Oh yes, I was hoping that I would enjoy my time with friends, having good conversations, meeting interesting people and having new experiences, but no, I did not come here to continue a `perfect Japanese memory` that I`ve had since I left three years ago.  I came here to see my friends and family that I haven`t seen in person for the last three years, to see how they`ve grown, to understand how they may have changed since I last saw them, to share my Mozambican experiences with them and hopefully give them some new things to think about, to actually live with them instead of just visiting them, and to see how they live and what their everyday lives are like, whether good or bad.  I also came here to grow and to find truth, just as I try to do in all things that I do.  One thing that I`ve learned over my short life is that I can`t grow unless there is some pain.  I would love to have a perfect two months in Japan and see only the happy side of my friends`s lives, but then I couldn`t see who they really are, and they couldn`t see who I really am.  Please don`t worry about ruining my fun.  
 
Third, I had some questions for you, though you don`t have to answer them if you don`t feel you can.  The first is, `Why are you so worried about me?`  Do you see pain, distress, frustration or something else in me that you hope doesn`t lead to something worse?  I know that when you love someone, you worry about their wellbeing and their happiness, and I think that is why you worry about me.  But, is that really why?  The second question is, `What was your essential problem that you faced while in India?`  I know that it is probably difficult to talk about, and again please don`t feel any pressure to answer, but I thought that it would be interesting to know if our problems were similar and to know how you solved your problem.  My third question is that when you said that `you had faith in me` and didn`t want to have a one-sided idea about me, what did you mean by that?  I do try to be a somewhat perfect person in all the things that I do.  I try to love everyone and everything, and be mindful of where I am in the moment, but I am still human and make mistake, after mistake, after mistake.  If you are disappointed in my mistakes, I do apologize for making them, but I want you to know that I am fully human and that I will continue to make mistakes (huge mistakes) no matter how hard that I try not to.  
 
Fourth and finally (I think:), I wanted to comment on what you said was my basic problem.  Now, I don`t know how well I`ll be able to articulate my answer in this E-mail, but I`ll do my best now and try to fill in the blanks later.  Your question was, `Why don`t I stop and ask for help, even when I apparently need it?`  Just to let you know, I received your E-mail at 12:30 on Monday just before my last class at Shimosato (which went really well, by the way...yeah!!), and haven`t stopped thinking about it until now.  I tried to just think about it by myself for a while, but then asked Yukiko on Monday night what she thought.  I hope that was alright to do, but it was good to get some of her perspective on the subject as well.  Here`s what thoughts I`ve had since then and what I`ve written down in my notebook.  There`s probably a lot more that`s missing, and it will probably be a long, hard process before I get to the real root of the problem, but here`s what I have for now.  
 
I think that I try to wait for a `perfect time` to ask for someone`s help, and sometimes that `perfect time` never comes.  I`m not sure if it is a language thing, or a cultural thing, or a Justin thing, but after thinking about it, it seems that I`m waiting for the perfect lull in the conversation, or for the topic to turn to a lighter subject before I ask someone for something.  I was thinking about what happened on the Canoe trip day last week.  I think that the reason why I didn`t mention something about needing a ride to Kuahaus earlier in the morning was because I thought that if the first thing that I talked about when we first met that morning were my plans for leaving later that evening, then that might be rude.  I didn`t know that you were worrying about it, and I was planning on explaining it to Otosan later, especially because Deguchi san had offered to have your family go to the Onsen for free as if you were in the Deguchi`s family.  I guess, I just hadn`t found the right time to do it.
 
Why can`t I make decisions easily or say `No`?  I don`t think that you mentioned this in your E-mail, but I think it is connected to the question that you asked.  I think that there are many reasons for this, and probably don`t know them all, but here`s a few reasons that I can think of for now.  I think that I am always thinking about everyone involved in the decision-making process.  Who will the decision hurt or help?  How will it affect both me and the other people involved?  I don`t ever want to hurt other people, even if I have to be hurt to save them from feeling pain.  This might be one reason why I don`t ask for help, even when I need it.  This might also be something that I learned in Japan.  The Japanese, or at least the ones that I know, rarely say `no`.  They might want to say `no`, but to save face or to not seem to harsh, they will say yes, or maybe, or we`ll see.  I definitely do this.
 
I was thinking that over the last 6 years I have, for the most part, had to rely on myself.  When I moved to Japan and to Mozambique I did not know anyone, and had to fend for myself in order to survive.  Of course, many wonderful people came into my life with whom I became friends and even family, but I still lived alone and had to deal with my own finances, food, transportation and health.  I think that especially in Mozambique where everyone is literally fighting for survival (food, water, medicine, etc., need to be fought for or else they will die), I too took on this way of living and fought for my own survival while living there.  If everyone else is fighting, and I don`t, then I`ll probably lose, won`t I?  I`m not sure, but I think that this relliance on my own strength and power has carried on with me even after I left Japan and Mozambique.  Maybe, if one day I get married and have children, I might be able to rely on them as they rely on me, but hopefully I can learn to do that before then:)  
 
Why don`t I ask for help?  Do I really think that I can do it on my own?  I was thinking about this question, and immediately I thought about the day that I biked to Tanabe for the Y`s Men`s meeting.  Your husband said that he didn`t offer me a ride to Tanabe, because he wanted me to learn my limits.  But, I really wanted to ride to Tanabe, even if someone did offer me a ride (and, Dave Hinson did offer me a ride...I think I told you this).  I think when I road my bike to Katsuura the other day, too, that you might have been worried about me, but I really wanted to ride my bike on that day too, especially since the weather was so nice.  I asked Yukiko about this last Monday night, and she reminded me that it was her suggestion for me to bring my bike with me to Japan from America.  She knows how much I like riding my bike, and that I would be able to be more free and not have to bother my friends everytime I needed a ride somewhere.  I know that you would have been, and are, willing to give me rides to places, but I thought that it would be fun to ride my bike and see if I could do it, even though it is hard.  I guess it was a personal challenge for myself.  When I asked you why you worry about me above, I was also thinking that maybe the reason you worry about me is because `I (Justin) don`t seem to be worried about me(Justin)`, even though the things that I do seem really hard.  What do you think?     
 
You also commented in your E-mail about me spending my time and giving my full attention to those people that I`m with at the moment, but then I don`t worry about those that come after me.  I`m not sure, but this might be a Mozambican influence on me.  In Mozambique, time is a very different thing than it is in Japan or the U.S.  You can never really be late for anything, because you never know what is going to happen between the place that you are leaving and the place that you would like to go.  There are so many unknowns in Mozambique, such as traffic accidents, illnesses, bad weather, no transportation, no electricity, no water.  On the way to the bus stop you might run into 10 different people and have to have 10 mini-conversations with them, which might make you 1 hour or 3 hours late.  The way that I lived in Mozambique was very much, `in the moment`.  You could try to plan what was coming next, but I would say that only 50 percent, whether it was in writing my school lesson plans, going to town to buy butter, or calling my parents, were accomplished.  So, I think that when I called to cancel with you a few weeks ago (April 29th, was it?), I was still in that Mozambican mindset.  Yes, I had a plan with you, but there was something else that come up in the present that I thought would be alright.  I am sorry again for that night, and am not trying to make excuses for my behaviour, but that might be one reason why I did what I did.
 
Is this a new thing or is this something that I`ve been doing for a long time?  Again, I don`t have a good answer to this, but when I asked Yukiko, she said that the day that i left Japan (August 10th, 2005), I had a difficult time deciding who should come with me to the airport.  I guess this is not a new thing for me, and I don`t know how I can change it.  I did like what you said though, that it`s not until you are travelling that different sides of you come to the surface.  Perhaps this is a good time to address these issues?
  
Wheh...I`ve been typing for a while and am getting tired (You probably are too).  I`ve got a few other things to say, and then I`ll sign off.  がんばれ!
 
I was reading in a book of mine by Joseph Campbell the other day, and he mentioned the Third Temptation that the Buddha faced, which was Dharma.  Campbell describes the Dharma as `Doing what people expect me to do.`  Now, I`m not sure if I completely understand the context in which the Buddha faced this temptation, but from my perspective, this is something that I think about often, and might be somehow connected to this problem of not asking for help, having difficulty making decisions and not being able to say `no`.  If I don`t worry about what other people think about me, or am always trying to please people, then I can do whatever I want to do and whatever comes from inside of me.  This is very hard for me.  Perhaps, Dharma is a temptation that I have to learn how to overcome.  If this is so, I think I have a long way to go.
 
Well, I think that might be all I have to say about this for now.  I really think it would be better to sit down and talk this out in person, but for now, E-mail will have to do.  I hope you understood everything.
 
I did want you to know that I am planning on coming back to Shikiya and the Saigusa home next Monday, May 26th, if that is alright with you (It will probably be early afternoon).  My plan for now is to be at your home from Monday to Friday next week.  From Friday to Sunday, I`ll be going to Awajishima for the ALT soccer tournament which ends on Sunday.  After the tournament on Sunday morning, I was planning on catching the bus to Kochi for the Seshin, and would still really like to attend.  I don`t know why Otosan thinks that it is a bad idea, but I was thinking about it this morning and I felt that it would be a really good thing for me to experience.  If he really doesn`t think that I should go, I won`t go, but if he still thinks that it could be good for me, please tell hem that I would like to attend.  And if possible, could he please make a reservation for me from June 1st to June 7th?  
 
Please tell Otosan and Tomo kun that I say hello and am enjoying myself here in Kyoto.  Today I hiked in the mountians in northern Kyoto, Kurama, and had an amazing time.  They`ve just started building the restaurants above the river up there.  Yesterday, I saw my old homestay mother, and found out that she was in Pittsburgh last year visiting friends of hers that are professors at the University of Pittsburgh...small world, eh?!
 
Well, Yuki, I do hope that this E-mail finds you well.  Please do not worry too much about this, for it is really just a small thing in comparison to all the other stuff that is going on in our lives and in the world.  Though, thank you again for bring it to the open.  It means a lot to me.
 
I am looking forward to seeing you all next week.
 
Peace and Love,
 
Justin
 
P.S. One last thing...This last Tuesday, the day that I arrived in Kyoto, I was walking around looking for a place to stay, and i found a small coffee shop that kind of reminded me of yours.  As I was drinking my mint tea and writing in my journal about the things that you had talked about in your E-mail, I looked across the street and saw a sign that was warning children not to play near the river because it was dangerous.  On the sign, there was a cartoon Tanuki that was saying in English, `Help Me`.  )