a wonderful feeling, to know in your heart and believe with all of your being
that, at this moment in time, you are meant to be exactly where you are. That
everything has led to this point, and you are finally uncovering the grand
constellation that the universe has had in store for you all along.
In these past few weeks, I—we, if I can take the liberty of speaking for my colleagues—have been harvesting a renewed sense of purpose. Today Eric Booth commented on how lucky we were to be able to devote ten months of our lives to thinking about "only the best stuff in the world". It's true. We have the opportunity to not only contribute to and help shape the El Sistema movement, but also the space to explore, question, and test out our thinking.
Fellows with Eric Booth (center)
And we started off by doing just that. One by one, we shared our personal hypothesis on what has driven the success of El Sistema thus far. Ideas included intensity, time, hyper ambition, focus on the holistic self, trust, passion. My hypothesis was that El Sistema's success is driven by the mutual trust between the students, the nucleo, and the society at large, which then allows for and encourages organic growth. Examples of other hypotheses shared by my colleagues include:
1. El Sistema is distinct because of the unifying aspect; it brings people from all backgrounds together and the backgrounds cease to matter in creating beauty-music.
2. El Sistema works because it provides children, families and communities--who often feel marginalized--a space where they are loved, valued, appreciated, and needed.
A common thread seemed to be the coexistence of what Eric referred to as a safe and a charged environment, one of both comfort and challenges, being encouraged yet not pushed. Only in a setting where trust gives way to growth can one enter the "flow zone" in which students are so focused that they strive for what might have been deemed impossible. It seems that the work we aspire to do is teeming with other kinds of coexisting elements that we may be quick to label dichotomies. Access and excellence. Passion and precision. Fun and discipline. Child centric and community driven.
What I started to think about throughout the day was that the right kind of facilitation could foster not only a complimentary relationship but also a dependent, cyclical one between such "contradictions,” thus creating an environment in which students can thrive. And after spending time with Eric and watching how he led our session, I realized that this is what I aspire to be: not necessarily a great teacher, or founder, or director, but a great facilitator.
A facilitator is completely dependent on others; a facilitator never starts from scratch; a facilitator's job is to connect the dots. We organize and bring together, convey our musical ideas, and try to draw communities to their full potential, but we all know that it is music, not magic. We can only ask for and build trust, and, in turn, offer our own passion, knowledge, and intuition while acknowledging that we are only stars in the greater constellation.
Sistema Fellow, '13