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Unlike many other versions of Programme H, YMI was implemented in schools and targeted adolescent boys specifically. This focus was based on the understanding that adolescence represents a pivotal moment in the socialisation process, when attitudes towards violence and gender roles are formulated and solidified Kaufman ; Lundgren et al. Both the Programme H and YMI programme theory hypothesise that if students learn to recognise harmful gender norms and are provided safe spaces to practise questioning these constructs, then there is a greater likelihood of internalising new ideas in support of gender-equitable, healthy and non-violent behaviours.

Strong collaboration between research and programming partners, which included formative research and a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework, was a defining characteristic of the YMI initiative. This revised approach, first implemented in , has been evaluated in four schools in Belgrade, Sarajevo, Prishtina and Zagreb through quantitative, self-administered surveys given to boys interviewed immediately before and after the eight-month implementation cycle. Findings from these evaluations including a quasi-experimental design in Prishtina, Kosovo showed promising results, particularly in improving attitudes related to violence against women, homophobia, gender roles and the use of violence against peers; however, no consistent evidence of behavioural changes emerged e.

Stronger outcomes were observed among boys who participated in one of the residential retreats, suggesting that more intensive programming outside the classroom accelerated change; for more details see Namy et al. The current study moves away from a focus on outcomes in order to explore how boys experienced and described the programme. This focus is useful to better understand the potential effectiveness of the various programming elements included in YMI and to highlight promising strategies that may have applicability for programme designers and implementers in other settings.

The FGDs with teachers explored whether and how they supported the programme objectives, as well as their impressions of the extent to which YMI was influencing the overall environment within the school. Student participants were purposively selected by implementing partners to achieve a balanced distribution across grades and participation level i. Youth facilitators selected for the interviews were recommended by the implementing organisations. Every teacher in participating schools was invited to participate in the FGDs, with final selection based on availability. Data from IDIs and FGDs were transcribed, translated into English and coded based on a combination of a priori and emergent themes by two independent coders.

Coding was performed manually data from Sarajevo and Zagreb and using Atlas. The Framework Method Ritchie and Lewis , frequently used in thematic analysis of qualitative data in public health research Gale et al. All YMI research followed strict ethical principles of human subjects research on violence against children, emphasising consent, confidentiality and referrals CP MERG During the individual consent process, the purpose of the evaluation and voluntary nature of participation was clearly explained to potential participants.

Written consent was obtained prior to any data collection; the decision to waive parental consent was made and approved by the ethics committee based on input from local researchers and is consistent with other study protocols from the region addressing similar age groups. Researchers were trained to watch for signs of distress and all respondents were given a list of nearby referral services. Pseudonyms are used to identify individual respondents in this paper. Five themes emerged as the most salient: personal reflection, experience-based learning, connections with youth facilitators, new peer groups and aspirational messaging.

In addition, some participant reflections revealed aspects of entrenched norms and resistance to the programme. The YMI participants consistently noted that the interactive curriculum inspired them to think more critically about what it means to be a man, as well as the consequences of dominant masculine ideals. Similarly, interview responses frequently reflected an appreciation of multiple masculinities and a growing ability to recognise gender norms as socially constructed and changeable. When researchers probed to understand how these changes came about, boys emphasised that the process of questioning dominant beliefs helped them understand that such ideas can be contested:.

I think that many of [the students] already know something … but after [the YMI training] they become more sensitised. For some boys, this process of reflecting on gender norms and practises became deeply personal, enabling them to connect their own attitudes and behaviours to the issues discussed in YMI sessions. As illustrated below, this personal identification with harmful masculinities and the consequences of violence against others served as a powerful motivator for change:.

To become a man here in our country, we smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. What kind of man am I? Interviewer: When you went through this workshop on labelling [negative stereotypes], what were you really thinking about? Participant: Well, I was thinking how bad it was that I had insulted these [boys] — all who I have insulted because they had some flaws, and so on.

Reflections Of A Man by Amari Soul

And I felt, you know, very stupid because I did that. Another theme that emerged is that YMI sessions enabled participants to gain a direct experience of harmful expressions of masculinity — such as being stereotyped or having power over another individual. As noted in the programme background, the YMI curriculum incorporated several interactive techniques; one such activity included in the Power and Relationships module was consistently identified as a favourite session.

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In addition, some students commented that the extended engagement with YMI experienced during the residential retreats was useful for integrating new ideas:. Well, the most interesting to me was Power and Relations, because, you know, we had an activity where we line up in two groups, and look opposite at each other, like mirrors.


You really see how it is when someone rules over you and what is the feeling when you rule over someone. In the classroom there was just talking for 40 minutes and then we forget everything that was said there. And then we understand the issues better … these three days make these topics get into your head. Importantly, some boys internalised this analysis of power and applied it to their own relationships. For example, Filip used the language of power to explain how YMI shifted his understanding of emotional violence:. And when we label someone, [we act] as if we are omnipotent, how do you say — more powerful than the person that we label.

Nearly all students interviewed described having strong relationships with YMI facilitators.

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In other words, boys perceived YMI facilitators to be relatable and familiar. Students further described how trust in their facilitators enabled them to feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues, and these positive connections were also noted in interviews with facilitators and teachers. Such experiences highlight how the interpersonal dynamics between participants and youth facilitators were critical in creating safe, confidential spaces for programme activities:. With [YMI facilitators] you can really talk, because they are not some professors.

I mean, some hold doctorate degrees, but they are not the kind of people that you have to watch how you express yourself.

Pursuit of Happiness: Reflections of a Young Man

You can freely address them informally and talk about everything. I think [the students] were listened to. They were listened to in the way that let them talk, as they talk with their peers. Lana, female teacher Zagreb, FGD.

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Interviews with facilitators also reflected a commitment and effort to connect with participants, particularly when facilitating YMI sessions. In turn, this mutual trust and closeness helped position some facilitators as positive role models and friends:. Well they are [role models] certainly, because they told us what they were like before and how they changed through these workshops. It is different if someone who has never done it before would speak about it.

We are really friends. Some of [the students] call us to ask if we can take a coffee.

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Some of them message us on Facebook or call to ask about a problem with their girlfriends. We are part of the friendship. As such, the office functioned as a casual, daily meeting space for boys to hang out, do homework and talk with other students and facilitators. In particular, students who attended a residential retreat described forming strong relationships, often with individuals they may not have interacted with otherwise either due to a lack of opportunity or existing prejudices. Some participants indicated that the immersive setting and emotional experiences of the retreats were influential in cultivating these new relationships:.

Based on the training we had together, we have become good friends. I have made friends with such a boy. I would never have done that before, because on the one hand, I was afraid of him, and on the other hand, I was afraid people would say that I was gay, too. But today, I think Be a Man has changed my opinion completely. Responses further suggested that new peer groups were often strengthened by a sense of shared responsibility for promoting the goals of the programme.

This theme was often linked to Be a Man club activities, which were designed and led by students. The leadership and activism that characterised these school-wide events was especially motivational for some participants and simultaneously served to enhance connections between peers. Participants described how membership in the Be a Man club invoked a certain responsibility in upholding positive attitudes and behaviours:. When you are a Be a Man club member your awareness stops you from doing bad things. For example, for me my awareness stops me from doing things, even when nobody sees me ….

We were all happy that we would be the ones to distribute the condoms …. It was as if we belong to this team and, like, it somehow left the best impression on me …. We are now, you know, like some collective that fights together for something important. Overall, it's an Okay read. I had issues with it. But I think in the long run, I would like to recommend this book to young girls who have been left and broken by assholes and douchebags I think that this will eventually help them out to find their self-worth. I wouldn't recommend this book however to my friends who literally reads their whole life because I think the poor attempt to poetry and very plain and bland writing might distract them and would eventually end up not liking the book like I did.

Sep 24, Nicay Magnate rated it really liked it.

I am Beautiful! It gives lesson for us to be inspired about. I am really speechless after I read this, the weird thing was — I really felt energized and enlightened while devouring this book. All the things Mr. Amari Soul wrote were really a quotable worthy. One thing that I just noticed that there were repeated sayings in the book.

All in all, it still an inspirational book to read. View all 4 comments. May 07, Wan Faizuddin rated it liked it. This book is divided into 3 parts: For woman, for man and for both.