by Kathryn McNulty
Director, Consumer Education Programs
NAMI Education, Training and Peer Support Center
On September 22, 2004, I arrived--with my husband, Jim--in Monterrey, Mexico. We cleared customs and immigration, and were met by a member of Ingenium. Ingenium is one of NAMI's Multicultural and International partner organizations in Mexico.
We had come to work with a group of bilingual volunteers. This Peer-to-Peer training had been in the works for quite some time, since I met with Ingenium founder Hugo Garza at the NAMI Convention in Cincinnati in 2002. Ingenium had expressed an interest in translating Peer-to-Peer, much like the work they did on the Spanish translation of Family to Family. I agreed that would be a marvellous idea, so long as Ingenium collaborated with consumers to get the job done. It took a while, but Ingenium eventually located 12 bilingual persons who live with mental illness, who were interested in being trained in Peer-to-Peer and working on translating it into Spanish.
We spent six days working on the training, as opposed to the three days a Peer-to-Peer training usually takes. It was thought that the participants would need to proceed slowly and would require a lot of rest due to the difficulty of learning in a foreign language. It turned out that the group moved very quickly, and the extra time in the schedule allowed for a great deal of sharing and discussion among the participants.
The training itself was held in a beautiful building owned by a large corporation, and we worked outside on the patio for the most part. The natural stones that comprised the wall of the patio kept our space cool in the heat of the afternoon. We looked out on a garden with a fountain in the middle. We were tucked away, in the middle of a Monterrey neighborhood, able to enjoy the scents and the sunshine as we worked together.
I felt, at the end of the week, like I was leaving "family." In my gratitude meditation--the final 'mindfulness' exercise of the Peer-to-Peer Course (and its closing ceremony)--I was moved to say that I felt like I had discovered "brothers and sisters in a foreign country." Jim and I were given a beautiful memento of our work there, with the inscription:
"At the beginning I was only a little mass of possibilities. It was my teacher who unfolded and developed them." - Helen Keller
The translation work has begun, with the group meeting in person and via email. Estimates vary as to how long it will take to complete the Spanish translation of Peer-to-Peer. Implementation plans will be devised, following the completion of the translation.
Kathryn McNulty (foreground, left) and the participants in the Peer-to-Peer training in Monterrey, Mexico.