|Many thanks to our colleague Chitra Ravi for writing this article about the Raleigh Conference, and thanks to the South Asian TA Association for permission to share it here.
“Promoting Equality and OKness: Healing the Divisions in Our World”
The Southeast Institute, NATAA and ITAA Conference from 31 July to 3 August 2019 held at Raleigh was something that I was looking forward to. The theme had me really interested and keen to attend. I had often come across inequality in several ways, in the news, movies, social media posts, etc. too much and too often in India and also in other parts of the world, especially in America.
I was there at Raleigh, North Carolina for 6 days and primarily travelled there as the Vice President – Ops of the ITAA, to attend the annual ITAA BOT meeting. From the word ‘go’, I felt the inclusiveness of the culture and atmosphere that had been created. The hosts had it all together, from their warm welcome to their attention to every detail. Every arrangement, the food, the social gatherings were all commendable. The experience of warmth, care and equality had already begun!
At the end of a two-day ITAA BOT meeting, there was a sense of accomplishment and a deep connection amongst the ITAA BOT members, acknowledging what Diane Salters, the outgoing ITAA President had meant for each of us. We also took the opportunity of welcoming the energetic and experienced incoming ITAA President, Elana Leigh. The next two days sped by in my role as the TSTA Exam Supervisor. I was responsible for conducting the TSTA exams, which were spread over a day and a half. My experience was varied and rich, with this role providing its share of challenges as well as a sense of completion, with two successful TSTA candidates wearing their ‘I passed’ ribbons. I enjoyed working with Alessandra Pierini who was the CTA exam supervisor.
Four days had suddenly just flown by!
With the theme of Promoting Equality and OKness: Healing the Divisions in Our World,” I attended the powerful Key Notes of Tim Tyson, Valerie Bates and Graham Barnes. The focus on social justice and racism, each spawned from civil rights movements, to invitations of not being bystanders in the context of discrimination. I was struck by the commitment and work that were done by each of them in promoting equality and social justice. My awareness of the context of racial discrimination was deepened and got further thrown open when Sonny Kelly through his mono-acted play “The Talk” portrayed the challenges of being a black man in the land of whites. The black father “talking” to his black son about how he needs to keep himself safe at all times, often needing to keep his “head bowed down” to the white people, both literally and figuratively. I was moved to tears by this portrayal, especially when at the end of his performance, his two young children were brought on stage and introduced to the audience. The workshops had a similar flavour, yet were so varied in approaching the theme of equality, from homonomy by Giles Barrow and Diane Salters, to mindfulness through yoga by Marina Rajan, Re-decision therapy by John McNeel, Life Scripts by Richard Erskine and many others offering their superb work.
I felt privileged to have attended a conference, which supported this theme. It was a reminder about how we could in our own contexts, be mindless and unaware of discriminating in several ways: racial, social status, gender, age-discrimination, caste, etc.
And finally, the special aspect that takes me to ITAA, SAATA and other TA Conferences is the opportunity to meet new TA friends and reconnect with many old ones.