As we know the world is getting more competitive day by day; academic education alone won’t bring us success in our professional life. In order to be well-rounded professionals we need social skills such as self-esteem, communication and the ability to make decisions. Most of the time, these are acquired during a life span but they can also be taught. One of LAFF’s goals is to help vulnerable and at-risk youth and children acquire and develop skills and tools that will help them be successful in their lives.
With this in mind and with the help of a local career guidance expert, Eliana, LAFF organized four career guidance workshops for Azul Wasi beneficiaries who are starting to think about their future careers. The objective of this workshop was to provide our beneficiaries with strategies to obtain social skills that will not only assist them in their daily lives, but help them identify potential careers and later, successfully gain employment. The workshops covered the themes of self-esteem, communication, decision-making, and developing a life plan. Through interactive discussions, activities, and videos, the beneficiaries all experienced growth in social skills over the four workshops.
The first workshop focused on self-esteem, which is the value each one perceives to have of themselves, with acceptance of oneself being of vital importance for positive interpersonal relations. Through life we have to deal with interpersonal relations on a daily basis therefore a strong, positive self-esteem is of great value. Through a series of exercises our beneficiaries worked on their self-esteem, exploring their own qualities to reinforce a positive image of themselves as well as sharing strengths they saw in each other.
Communication was the subject for the second session and assertive communication was emphasized as a tool to build healthy relationships with others. The Dorland Medical Dictionary defines assertiveness as:
a form of behavior characterized by a confident declaration or affirmation of a statement without need of proof; this affirms the person’s rights or point of view without either aggressively threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance) or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one’s rights or point of view.
With this, we can see how positive self-esteem will be best reflected in assertive communication, linking the first two sessions together.
The third session was about decision-making. Eliana used the previous sessions to introduce the theme and helped the beneficiaries reflect on the process towards making a good decision. She was very clear about the fact that the decision making process doesn’t solely depend on our personal preferences but that we have to take into consideration different factors such as: our economic means, family, the environment we live in, and society, amongst others. Once we consider all the factors and assess our potential, we are better able to make good decisions.
The last session was designed for the beneficiaries to develop a life plan . They had to recall what they had learned in the previous sessions, beginning with a process of decision making to assess their personal capacities and external factors and to develop a life plan: What do I want to become? Where do I see myself in five years? In this way, the workshops linked together to help the beneficiaries identify future plans, and be more confident in achieving their goals.
At the end of the last session one of the beneficiaries expressed his gratitude towards LAFF and said that he would cherish the things he had learned and apply them in his daily life.
Attending these sessions also made me think about my own life plan: despite not knowing where I will be in five years, I have a supportive family, a high quality education, and was fortunate to grow up in a healthy environment. Knowing that many of LAFF’s beneficiaries have not had the same opportunities as I helped me to realize how important these sessions are. Helping our beneficiaries to improve their self-esteem, develop their communication skills, make better decisions, and plan for the future will help give them tools they need to be successful in life.
Arianna Valentini, April 2013