Los Angeles Developed Diversity Training Reaches Volunteers in American Samoa

Los Angeles volunteer Raini Hatchett teaches Diversity Training to disaster responders, as a part of the response operation in American Samoa 

By Anna Laine, Sr. Volunteer Engagement Specialist

Recently, a new diversity training, developed in collaboration with the Red Cross Los Angeles Region’s PrepareSoCal campaign, Los Angeles Region staff and Red Cross national headquarters, was launched nationwide—and is now being incorporated into training curriculums of disaster response operations.

In March, Los Angeles based volunteer training facilitator Raini Hatchett delivered the training to new disaster responders in American Samoa.

When engaging the class into conversations about diversity, Raini quickly noticed that the volunteers in American Samoa were quite different to those she was used to in diverse Los Angeles. “American Samoa has no concept of being “politically correct” so the participants were candid, honest and open with their comments and questions. Many were moved to tears after the circle activity because they didn’t realize that so many in the group had been in difficult situations or knew others that had been in difficult situations.”

The diversity circle is one of the central components of the training that allows participants to learn what life experiences unite them as a group.

The experience of facilitating difficult conversations in American Samoa was a very moving experience for Raini. “When delving into stereotypes, the comments were so raw, and the hurt so real when dealing with discrimination and its effects. The unity that came from the group after seeing that most of the participants had identified in the circle that they felt alone at some point was amazing.  The participants rallied together and began to encourage one another.”

Raini is one of our new “Harvey volunteers”. She joined the Red Cross in September, and quickly became engaged with Regional Volunteer Services and Workforce Engagement.

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey, when our region received overwhelming interest from volunteers wanting to join the Red Cross, Raini began helping our teams onboard and deploy volunteers in the Los Angeles Region. She soon deployed herself, and upon her return, was promoted to a lead role in our Regional Workforce Engagement team. By the end of 2017, she had already deployed three times to support California Wildfire relief efforts.

In November, upon return from deployment, she participated in a two-day Volunteer Services training workshop, where she first took our new Diversity Training. She was so impressed by the content, that she became a volunteer leadership and management training facilitator in the region, herself.

In March, she deployed for the fourth time – this time to American Samoa, where she was pulled into the Training Team and hosted a Diversity Training to new volunteers and other Red Crossers active in the disaster response. How amazing is that?!

I was so happy to hear this news from her, as it shows how far we have come, and the direction we are moving to with the support of our regional and national leadership.

She lauded the quality and content of the Diversity Training. “All of the participants that I spoke to after the training said they felt a deeper sense of appreciation for their fellow Red Cross volunteer and an overwhelming sense of togetherness.  Many other volunteers were unable to make the training and are looking forward to taking the class in the future.  They heard such wonderful things about the training from the group that attended.  I would welcome the opportunity to go back again to American Samoa to facilitate another Diversity Training!”

It feels like such a short time ago, but it has already been a full year since the Diversity Training developed here in Los Angeles was launched nationwide. Last June, over 60 new facilitators were trained across the nation, and now the number of facilitators has already grown to several hundred.

What a difference a year can make. Raini’s experience with the Red Cross proves the power of the Volunteer Services training curriculum and that the master trainer investment was well worth it!

For volunteers like Raini, on-boarded after the launch of the Diversity Training, American Red Cross will always be identified as a place where diversity is acknowledged and celebrated!

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