Managing Conflict & Crisis
1. Emergency Sexual Misconduct Crisis
While working with LA-Term, a student living in an urban homestay told my supervisor that her homestay parent was touching her and it made her uncomfortable, and asked if that was normal for that particular culture. Alarmed immediately, but not yet an emergency, he set up a meeting for later that week to meet with the student to discuss it further. However, two days later an incident occurred with another student in the house that demanded immediate intervention. The student claimed the homestay parent had kissed her that morning, so we picked up the students from their home and put them up in a hotel until we could find them suitable housing. In the mean time, my supervisor and I visited the homestay and talked to them, explaining the situation and how we needed to remove the students effective immediately. Luckily, the parent did not contest the claims, and we were able to transition the students into a new home. However, the situation required careful, sensitive and quick action on all fronts.
Here is the newly rewritten Homestay Contract.
2. Post-Crisis Sexual Misconduct Support
Shortly after that situation (described above) took place, a completely separate sexual misconduct incident occurred. This occurred off campus, and outside of any of the homestay residences. (While the details are important, there is still a possible ongoing legal battle taking place, so the minutiae of the situation will not be described here. Suffice it to say that the student was rightfully distraught and requested to be removed from the program immediately.) As soon as possible, a support structure for both the student involved and the rest of the cohort (about fifteen other students, all closely-knit both in class and at home) was designed. We implemented this by meeting with students one-on-one more often if necessary, offering professional psychological help, as well as trying to be as open and honest with them about the situation without violating the specific student’s request for privacy.
Attached is a copy of the LA-Term Application including the student policies and guidelines for LA-Term students.
3. Communiversity Mentoring
During my assistantship in the office Communiversity, I had the opportunity to mentor a female undergraduate student who was also working in our office as an intern. We met on a weekly basis throughout the year and very quickly established a close, friendly relationship. Throughout the year there were several crises in her life both personally and academically that were equivalent to difficult questions and issues that second year college students often face (Astin & Bryant, 2008). While each did require a small level of counseling and support, it seemed what she really needed was someone to listen to her and help her think and talk through everything she was dealing with. I was able to provide that on a limited basis, but thankfully she also had several close friends to confide in and support her. She was able to come through each crisis with a better understanding of herself, and her own significance. Since then she has grown and developed into a smart, independent Christian woman who knows what she wants and how to accomplish her goals.