Honouring Learning at The Haven

By Gwen Ewan, The Haven’s Director of Education

On Aug 28th we had a grand occasion to honour Ben Wong and Maria Gomori, and took the opportunity to also honour five people who were graduating from the Haven Institute internship program with Diplomas in Counselling. After the event I was asked for copies of my remarks, and those requests have led me to write this article for Shen. I believe that people were taken with what I said about the internship program, not because I am a fabulous speaker, but rather because what I had to say addressed something that is important to people who love Haven and see us as living onwards into the future.

Part of my job as the Director of Education is to oversee the training programs of The Haven Institute. One of those programs is the internship that leads to a Haven Certificate or Diploma.

The Haven Institute is a school. We have offered training from the beginning, so it was fitting that we held a graduation ceremony as part of the birthday celebrations to honour Ben Wong and Maria Gomori; Ben and Jock designed and began the internship program, and they and Maria taught many of the now 87 people who have graduated from it. Our newest graduates are Diana Coates, Roberta Burrows, Dodo Lee, David Boulding, and Cora Tao.

I told the audience of over 250 people a bit about what these five people have accomplished. The internship program is based on an apprenticeship model. In addition to programs they take as participants, students have continual coaching and feedback while working as part of the leadership team in Come Alives and Living Alive Phase I and II. They lead smaller sections of these courses, gradually taking on increasing responsibility. They work long days, listen with open heart to sometimes difficult feedback and put in a minimum of 1,800 class room hours. That 1,800 hours is a minimum, and most everyone does far more – the five people honoured on Aug 28th certainly had.

Like a traditional university, Haven students learn skills and concepts, and at The Haven they also learn about presence and engagement and profound connection with others.

Internship is marked by taking huge strides in personal commitment – commitment to Haven principles of:

  • Curiosity (a strong antidote to any belief in “there is one right way’ and “I know best”)
  • Self-responsibility
  • Communication
  • Relationship
  • Embodiment
  • Experiential learning
  • Inclusion (the ability to stand in another’s shoes and take that point of view into account in one’s own view)

Those commitments and that dedication and the skill in working with others is what we acknowledge.

At the graduation, each of the students said a few words, and then we had the traditional triumphal march around the room to deafening cheers and applause.

And then we settled in to an “interview” in which Jock McKeen ever so skillfully drew stories out of Ben and Maria and, using themes of self identity and integrity, wove those stories into a piece of magical – what? I want to say theatre, but that would imply that it was not real – and this was very real. This was the overarching story of two lives and of all the lives that have been part of those two lives. And at the end Maria turned to Ben and talked about how much being part of his life and the integrity that he has lived and with which he had imbued The Haven meant to her. And she ended by saying that this, The Haven, must continue.

The principles that were stated during the graduation – they are the integrity of The Haven. To hold to these is what will keep The Haven alive, living, life giving.

And I think that the recognition of that link – the link between the magic of the interview and Maria’s declaration and the principles that I talked about in the graduation – that is why someone would want copies of my remarks. It is that link that speaks to our hearts.

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