CTEP Moves Corps Day Online
By Amelia Palacios, CTEP Staff
SPNN’s AmeriCorps program, the Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP), has undergone monumental shifts in the past month! All 32 of our AmeriCorps members are now safely serving their partner sites remotely as their service sites are closed, and are finding ways to improve curricula and meet with their learners online. While this has presented enormous challenges, COVID-19 has also presented an opportunity to prove that the mission of CTEP to teach technology literacy skills has actually never been more vital, and that our members can play pivotal roles in helping organizations adjust to continuing to provide services, collaborate on work together, and communicate in alternative formats.
Part of being a CTEP AmeriCorps member is participating in full-day professional development trainings, and our most recent Corps Day was unlike any other! This was one of the first Corps Days in 10 years in which the CTEP cohort did not meet physically--the only time a Corps Day was cancelled was due to an extremely dangerous blizzard. And so, the show went on. Virtually at least!
On Friday, we all met using the Zoom video conferencing app.. We started the day off with an all member virtual training with Donna Minter from the MN Peacebuilding Leadership Institute. Donna walked us through an abbreviated STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience) Training. We learned about Trauma Informed Care practices as well as strategies for self-care and building resilience in ourselves and our community.
Personally, I enjoyed the challenge of facilitating a discussion through Zoom with over 30 people. Donna and I came up with a system beforehand, asking members to mute their mics while Donna presented. During breaks for reflection and discussion, Donna asked members to write out their responses in the group chat, which she read aloud to the group, responding in real time to each entry. It was great to see members joking with each other and engaging with the material just as they would have if we had all met in the same location!
After the Zoom meeting with Donna and a break to eat lunch and recharge, members met, via Zoom, in small affinity groups. A designated group facilitator guided a discussion around CTEP members' current work situations, coping strategies, and overall responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. At 2 PM, members rejoined our second large all member Zoom meeting. Group facilitators shared back what each affinity group covered in their discussions.
Hearing of all the different resources and tips members shared with one another, and witnessing from a safe distance the support and community they are building with each other through this situation is inspiring. We ended the day with reflections and asked that all Civic Engagement groups meet and email Joel, Lizzie and myself an update on their plan for their projects moving forward.
Overall, I think that the experiment went really well! It was challenging to organize so many different last-minute virtual meetings and to quickly pivot our plan. Because of our CTEP members’ and community partners’ support, grace and overall willingness to adapt and try something new, this day was such a success!