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Written on November 9th, 2013 , Arts in Community Tags: , ,

Mikel Moss is an Ithaca Native and Drama Therapy Alternative Training Student with the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA). He was recently be awarded the “Student Volunteer of the Year” Award by the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA). He currently serves on the Diversity Committee of the NADTA and is vice president and co-founder of the Affinity Group “Blacks in Drama Therapy”. He gave the below speech at the annual Drama Therapists’ conference this year. In it, the community to which he refers is that of Drama Therapists.

I have very vivid memories of my childhood: Singing, playing outside, riding my big wheel, laughing, my favorite pair of Osh-Kosh overalls, meeting my best friend Disi hours after moving to our house on Second Street. The most vivid memory that I have from my childhood is the communal dinners we would have. My mother and all of her friends would get together at least once a month to cook, play music, play cards, laugh and joke for hours into the night. All of us kids would eat, play, laugh, sometimes argue; all in all a great time was had by all.

I  carry this amazing memory with me everywhere. It is that sense of community and kinship that has guided a huge portion of my life. I tell that story to a lot of people because it helps to illustrate my feeling of the sense of community [of Drama Therapists–editor] I envision. A couple of years back, I was telling that story to one of my friends in front of my mother and she looked at me in shock. My mother and I have this intense connection with one another so before I even noticed she had the weird look on her face, I felt it. I asked her what was wrong. She smiled at me and with tears in her eyes told me that those meals, those “community meals” as I called them, happened because at that time of the month, no one had enough money to feed their families by themselves. But someone had a little bit of this and someone had a little bit of that, and another person had a bunch of this but only a little bit of that so they all came together and pooled what little bit they had so that everyone had enough and sometimes even a bit more to carry them through.

For me, this insight was everything. It has shaped and dictated my journey in this community. In everything I do, whether it be volunteer or learning, I am always searching for a way that I can not only contribute what little bit I have to our profession, but to also encourage others to do so as well. We all have busy lives, careers, families, and other various obligations that consume most of our time, and many of us have already contributed so much time and energy to this community.  Some of us are new and are still making our way and are not sure where we fit in.

I encourage everyone at either end of that spectrum to continue to contribute in ways that you would not normally think to. My mentor Cleve Thomas used to always tell me, “Always bring something to the table. Even if it is just a smile and a encouraging nod. You never know when that may be just enough for someone.” If you have been in this community for many years, offer your experience and wisdom to those just walking through the door. And not just in the classroom. Find a way to reach out to the new people and welcome them to the family. 

Listen to their ideas, encourage their dreams and goals. We must learn to strike from our vocabulary phrases like, “Oh, we tried that 10 years ago and it didn’t work” or “We’ve done that already”.  Doing something once and not having it work doesn’t mean it won’t ever work. How many times in history has the continued effort of someone paid off? Instead, I encourage you to say, “You know who knows a lot about that? This person right over here” and “That’s a great idea, how can I help?” And if you are introduced to someone who has a passion you once had or do have, embrace them! Give them all the support and wisdom you can! The lessons that we have to teach one another should not be conditional on whether the other person can pay the fee for your seminar or class. To borrow from one of my favorite phrases: It truly does take a village to raise a drama therapy student! If you are new to this profession, WELCOME! WE ARE SO GLAD YOU ARE HERE! I don’t have much, but what I have I will share. I encourage you to take what wisdom you can from those who have come before you, and nurture your dreams! I encourage you to find a place where you feel your ideas, goals and thoughts are not only received, but there is excitement for them. And if you can’t find a space, MAKE ONE! I will cheer you on! I may not know where it is you want to go, but I will walk with you for as long as I can.

This spirit of kinship and community is something in me that will never go away. No matter how many bad words and situations are thrown at me, no matter how many of my projects and ideas are whittled down to almost nothing, no matter how many times I stumble, no matter how many times I have to find a new school at which to study, no matter how long it takes me to get my RDT (cause lord knows its taking a while!), I am here. I will stay here. I am not going anywhere! I share my enthusiasm and my story in hopes that you take what you need from it and use it to continue to better our community, our family.

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    ReviewingOffice commented

    What a touching story of integrity and rejection of victim-hood.
    How can we reach this guest blogger and access his other writings, such as “Art of Being Cool”?

    December 31, 2014 at 11:27 am