Authors: The Joven Noble Team
In order to begin answering the question of what palabra means, start by putting yourself in the shoes of a 16 year old young man in today’s society. How are you, as a young man growing up in today’s world, supposed to know how to live with pride, honor, integrity and values, when you are surrounded by a world where everything and everyone is telling you that you need to be the complete opposite in order to be successful? The media gives us one message, our peers another and when we face ourselves in the mirror and try to be the best person we can be, we are clouded by all of the other voices and examples that surround us and pull us in different directions.
Joven Noble Sacred Circles is an opportunity to get off the roller coaster that we call life, and enter a sanctuary where you leave your mask at the door and check in to who you are at heart. Our circles have young men from all walks of life. An 11 year old who has to take the bus for 2 hours in order to get to school and has no adult male figure at home to be a father to him and teach him how to be a young man. A 31 year old man who has experienced a lack of male role models in his life and attends weekly in an effort to give back to the youngsters today all that he wish he’d had growing up. These different men make up the heart of our sacred circles and are able to be mirrors for each other, each embodying what it means to be a man, and more importantly, each eventually embodying what it means to be a man with palabra.
(Tune to 1:15 to hear the voices of Joven Noble facilitators and participants)
It is believed that in order to see tomorrow, you must first understand why yesterday brought you to today. As facilitators, it is our job to help the youth understand and make sense of what is going on in their lives. It is our goal that through conversation and story-telling, each young man will reach the point in his life where he can open up and recognize areas in his life that he can improve on and that he learns that his own decisions today will be what determines his tomorrow. It is our hope that we can assist each young man in realizing that the dreams that once seemed far-fetched and unobtainable are well within their reach and each goal that they have for themselves can be achieved and become reality.
The dream for the pursuit of higher education is a hurdle that many of our young men face. They may come from broken homes and have been told it is impossible and maybe have even seen the statistics of other Latino young men who fail. One of our participants, Jose, started Joven Noble in the winter of 2012 and had dreams of higher education that seemed impossible to him at first. Jose graduated from our Joven Noble program and as it turned out, it wouldn’t be the last of graduations for him. He proceeded to graduate high school and is now in his second semester at San Jose State University. Jose was the perfect example of a young man who learned how to take control of his future and make his dreams a reality and proceeds to inspire others around him as he returned to our group as a youth leader.
So, what is Palabra? What does a man with Palabra do? In the simplest terms, palabra is to do the right thing when no one is looking and to keep your word no matter how difficult it is to do so. Palabra means to be a positive role model even when temptation is strong and taking responsibility for your own actions and not just the easy way out. Most importantly, palabra means to not do anything to harm yourself or others around you. How does one learn to become a young man with Palabra? We invite you to our Sacred Circle to begin the process of finding out.