ESD Global Camp 2018 Update

I often feel privileged, and I know I truly am, but I have never felt more privileged than I have these past 3 weeks. Why? Well, I have been receiving, reading, and enjoying applications to ESD Global’s instructor training camp to be held in August.

This year's pool of applicants in truly impressive and truly global:

Here are some of my favorite gems from the applications:

“I have always believed that women & girls can be their own protectors. ESD Global provides a platform to unite & pursue a common vision empowering all women and girls. I hope to bring new skills back to Katmandu & to our organization KickBack.”

Yes! If you really think about how our legal systems work, whenever there is an accused and an accuser there needs to be a burden of proof. Now, if I am alone with someone else, as a majority of sexual crimes are, it will always be my story and their story. Proving what I said or did, or what they said or did is a very complicated and unpleasant process. I am not sure that we can really make that much better. And I certainly do not want to live in a world were we all need to wear body cameras with footage uploading constantly to a secure cloud in order to get justice. And that is really only about getting justice.It isn’t about giving me tools to handle a bad or potentially bad situation.

All women and girls need to be encouraged and empowered to be their own protectors. They are the only ones there for them 100% of the time. And…..

“Yes, policy change! AND we need to empower Myanmar women with self-defense & self-confidence. I work for equal opportunity for women. This is why I choose a Masters in Gender Studies. I strongly believe that ESD will help me reach my goal [of empowering the women I work with].”

Equal opportunity is also about equality in education. We are all born with a system of fight, flight and freeze, yet somehow, out of all of the mammals I know, humans are the only ones who educate males into a super-charged fight reflex, and females into a super-charged freeze reflex.

What do I mean? Well, fight, flight and freeze are tools. Tools we are born with. Look at the animal kingdom. You will see many different types of responses to fear and threat depending on where the animal is on the food chain and the type or size of its teeth and claws. What you don’t see (or at least, everything I have ever been taught) is that the male and females behave significantly differently under threat. Being human, we have a more subtle spectrum of skills. That doesn’t mean that we should buy into a culture of educating the inability of females to protect themselves or the inability of males to control themselves. Additionally, we have our minds, souls and voice.

“ESD empowers me & allowed me to find my voice. Now I help girls and women find theirs, know & learn that they have choices. It also helps me with healing in the women's circles that I organize & to promote life without violence.”

So yes, it is always better to not fight. And I say this for everyone. I believe that there is no way to enter a fight and not end up somehow injured. If you ask me, I’ll tell you that the other person in any altercation I might have will be worse off because I have training, but I also know that the nature of physical battle is to cause injury and as good as I might be, controlling all injury is not in the cards.

That being said, what can I do when I am alone with someone and the conversation, or the actions go in a direction that I am not comfortable with, or feel threatened by? Well, I can use my voice. “I am not happy with this. I am leaving!” “Stop what you are doing to me now!” “I said leave me alone.” These are all important boundary setting statements. If they work, fantastic!

Also, I am frequently reminded that the majority of attacks against women and children are at the hands of someone known to them. Who is easier to hit? An unknown person or a known person? Unknown, of course. So, if the majority are known, we need a different set of tools for that.

“I want to help empower women who are victims of domestic violence, to bring ESD to Estonia & start training women. I am certain my contributions to this work can make Estonia a better & safer place & especially empower women.”

And in my humble opinion, the answer to domestic violence is to raise girls with a stronger sense of self, and a connection to their inner voice. Not too long ago, a study was released stating that the age at which girls disconnect from their inner voice, their ability to say what they want or don’t want is around age 12. Age 12????

First of all, the fact that there was a need to even test for disconnect from inner voice is disturbing, but 12? Just as girls are beginning to gain more independence? Just as they are beginning to negotiate intimate relationships? This is exactly the point when we should be helping them stay connected to their inner voices. Their feelings about what feels good and right for them. ESD does that.

“As a person who has evolved from guilt & shame of her own experiences of sexual assault, being able to talk, being aware of the myriad complexities of the human mind and effect of social structures on behavior, forgiving without feeling vulnerable or compromising on justice and projecting weakness, voicing my opinion and standing against social injustice, I feel I have become a person who can be a voice of reason. Having recently undergone ESD training, apart from giving one an arsenal of practical self-defense tools, I feel the methodology also has an immense power to create a safe community and space for women to open up and explore their own selves and biases without feeling judged. The experience personally has been one of the most empowering and liberating ones, and I am convinced that through this I could help empower the women of my community. Apart from using it in the tribal context, I also want to share my learnings through my wide professional and personal network, as I feel that self and self-care are concepts a major percentage of women in India have internalized to ignore. I am also looking forward to being among other empowered women to take their collective energy back with me."

ESD is a varied set of tools in order to march through life with courage, voice and a sense of capability. And it is so much more. It is a deeply healing process for those who have had to suffer acts of violence, both big and small.

“Having participated in a women's empowerment and self-defense course with an ESD Global Camp alumni, I can attest to the power and healing it provides. I feel strongly that I need to be a part of the 2018 cohort, so that I can contribute to this work in the world.”

And here's an answer in video form:

But by far, my favorite ESD Global Camp application answer was to the question “Do you have other relevant teaching experience?”

“I’m a mom.”

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