Restorative Justice

I am on a restorative justice panel. Once a month or so, we meet with a person who has plead guilty to a crime, usually soliciting a prostitute. The person is able to make a contract with the panel about what he/she will do to repair the harm to the community. If they complete the terms of their contract, their record will be cleared.

The members of the panel are volunteers, mostly from the community. It's a very interesting panel. Most of the people on it are very cool, very chill people. They're really not looking to jam anyone up, or hurt anyone. They're not there to be vindictive or seek retribution. I am there because I see the value of the program and I like being involved in it. I like being involved because I see the value of the program.

A new volunteer showed up last night and sat on the same panel as me. What I got out of that experience was that it reaffirmed for me that I am not here to punish people. I am here to help people repair the community and then say, "you have done your part, the harm is repaid and you are welcome in my community any time". It also helped me clearly articulate that the goal of the panel is not to be retributive or punish people. I as a community member don't get anything out of making someone do more work just because I can. I as a community member see the value of having someone participate in my community by volunteering. I also learned that people of different cultures can have a bit of an identity thing happening, where they this one identity that's based on their cultural history and beliefs, and another identity based on what's happening in the environment where they live now. And I see now they both can be very real for a person, and it's helpful to see when that is going on, because both are happening and both experiences are true even though one is the total opposite of the other. This new person helped me see that.

I wonder what I'll think when I re-read this post, if I'll remember what else was happening. When I re-read my journal from Malawi, there's what I was saying which was fairly optimistic and what was going on in my head at the time which was not optimistic at all. I remember both when I look at those journals, but others who don't know the situation wouldn't get that from the journals at all. I'm wondering if I'll have the same experience with this post. Not that there's something I'm not telling you...


How Panic Attacks Make Everything OK

I haven't blogged in a really long time, since school started or before I would guess. School is keeping me amazingly busy, and what it's not doing for my schedule, work and the internhsip are.

I have this one class that's a seminar basically where we talk about everything that's going on in our field placements. The class is Wednesday (today is Friday so I already had it this week), and last Monday I had a crazy panic attack while I was trying to fall asleep. I really was not looking forward to going to this class because it's a "talk about your feelings" kind of class which is just not for me. I was also feeling uncomfortable because people in this class have a tendency to share way too much, and when it's my turn I don't want to be expected to share the same amount of information.

Monday night, I was thinking about this, and getting more and more freaked out the more I thought about it until I totally tensed up and started crying and knew that there was no hope of sleep even though it was midnight and I had to be somewhere at 7am the next day. I went out on the couch and turned a movie on and let the sound put me too sleep. At some point in the middle of the night I did successfully manage to crawl into bed and get some sleep.

The next day I was so worn out from having had that panic attack that at the very least, I wasn't worried about that stupid class so I could function the whole day. Wednesday, I was still pretty worn out, just totally drained from this panic attack so that I wasn't worried about the class.

My field instructor really wanted me to talk to the professor before hand and tell her how I was feeling, but I didn't want to. The FI wanted me to say that this seminar doesn't fit my learning style and group processing is not my thing. I didn't really want to say anything to the professor because it's not a "learning style" issue, it's an "I have OCD and anxiety" issue that I'm not ready to discuss with anyone here.

I didn't say anything to the professor bur I also didn't raise my hand to talk, and the thing I noticed is that she doesn't call on people, she really lets us talk on our own which I appreciate because most of the time I don't want to say anything so I don't have to. For now, I will not be disclosing my anxiety problems to the professor, which gets to be my choice, despite the advice from my FI which I appreciate.

It's going to be an interesting conversation on Tuesday when I tell my FI that I didn't talk to the professor. She's going to give me a really hard time about it. I really do appreciate her input and acknowledge that she's got some experience in this, but this also gets to be my decision about what I share with people, who I share it with, and how that information is shared.

The other thing that will never come up after today is ADD/ADHD and that whole diagnosis. The professors around here seem to make a lot of jokes about that. I don't want them to know I have ADD because of those jokes, and because I think they might feel uncomfortable having made those jokes once they know my whole situation. (At least they really should feel uncomfortable having made those jokes because some of them were very unkind and made me feel pretty uncomfortable).