Jono Hirt | Week 21

This week I saw the fruits of my labor. With the help of Dennis Mark (Chief Investigator), Keturah and a number of NFS staff members; I facilitated my first weeklong Academy. I ended up enjoying the week a lot more than I thought I would, I got to know quite a few of the 24 participants fairly well – it was nice to put faces to the names and see a new group engage with our course and each other. Where I thought the week would be stressful, it was fun. Where I thought I would be exhausted I was energized and more importantly I left the week feeling a (as I named it in my final remarks) “cheesy sense of hope”.

The turn around from last October, from participant to fellow to coordinator, still spins me out. Although a little less after just seeing myself pull off a successful Academy. The Academy platform was my first engagement with Not For Sale, although I had been to the Global Forum and had met a few staff members, the Academy is where I decided that this is the organization I would like to work for. I think for a few people who took part this last week, the Academy will be the beginning of a journey in this movement to end slavery – it was a privilege to be witness to that.

My time here as a fellowship is all but ended. Although I’m not leaving, it does indeed mark another step. If I was asked to describe what I have accomplished, I’m not sure what I would say. I mean I don’t have anything tangible to hand over. Shane makes videos, which is an easy way of showing someone what you have done, which are all awesome, don’t get me wrong. I guess my point is, that seeing the Academy underway, seeing it take on a life of its own and do what it was meant to do – join knowledge with empowerment – was the first time I had honestly been completely happy with my product, the end result of my work. It didn’t run perfectly, there is room for improvement, but I think all considering, it went superbly. I also realized how much work is set out for me over the next few months, although I now know that it will all be fine.

The next three weeks are going to be a whirlwind, tomorrow I’m off to a festival with some friends from Australia in Manchester Tennessee; I get back and have one week (which is going to be a scramble) and then I am off to Seoul and Sydney for the first two international Backyard Academies.

I would like to end with a massive THANK YOU! I haven’t thanked the people in my life that helped me get here enough. I don’t think I really could. I did decide to make the most of this experience and do my best as much as I could – and through the work I’m doing, I hope my appreciation shows.


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