For almost 25 years, IAM has been working in faith communities. In our work towards opening minds, hearts and doors, we have grown as an organisation in our own diversity and dialogue process. Over the past few years we have often been approached by schools and student organisations at universities and have partnered them in various ways. As we reflect on Youth Day, celebrated in South Africa on 16 June, we also take time to reflect on the work that IAM does with youth across the country.
The IAM team are very excited and grateful that we could branch out our training to schools in May this year. For the first time we completed a full training program on human sexuality and diversity in a school in the Eastern Cape. With generous hospitality and support of the headmistress and other school leaders, IAM has embarked on an exciting journey along with other academic and civil society partners. Some of these relationships are new and fresh, and others we have cherished and grown over the past 25 years.
During the May training event we learned that intergenerational work with young people and school staff (both faculty and administrators) is both a challenge and a gift. The gift of intergenerational diversity adds depth to the dialogue process as we commit to grow into a diverse community. Students brought an energy and an urgency to the dialogue process that we are very excited to continue to grow and nurture as we accompany more schools to become spaces that recognise and celebrate LGBTI students in learning communities. The language of youth and the expectations of living amidst diversity is something that the girls offered to the process with a sense of abandon. The deep sense of discomfort with the legacy of our history and the complexities with which we live in diverse communities is something that older participants held us all accountable to. Sitting with this risky discomfort and growing into diversity is the challenge of the dialogue process. The reward is transformed communities, open to all.
As a team we have grown in our own diversity and this has opened us up to new ways of being in training spaces that nurture diversity in dialogue, while also being open to, sometimes risky, conversations. Age is merely one of the intersections with IAM’s work towards dialogue that opens up life-giving spaces for LGBTI people to flourish. On Youth Day and every day, we celebrate the challenges and also the growth that the intersections of diversity offer to deep dialogue.