Creating Change: Lessons and Advice


Viewing herself as a learner as well as an educator, Sr. Dorothy identified the following lessons learned from her rich experiences of educating and empowering others:

  1. Know what you're talking about.
  2. Know what's in your own mind. It's important to follow your dream, your own mind and your role model.
  3. Don't push it. Say things that are going to help them think constructively about the issue. Because once the people you're talking to become defensive you have gone the wrong way, causing them to lose interest.
  4. Educate them gently. Give them reasons why the change has to come; but do it gently, do it gently. Never indicate that you think you already have all the answers.
  5. Don't be defensive yourself and avoid creating defensiveness in others.
  6. Celebrate your own and others' achievements. "Whether it's their children in the classroom, another teacher or something that has happened in the school that promotes our own schools and teachers: celebrate them, celebrate them! Celebration affirms and motivates people.
  7. Then get on and do something else.

Advice to the upcoming activist

Sr. Dorothy would ask young people who want to make a difference, "Do you have a dream? What is your dream? Are you going to sit on your dream or are you going to try and achieve it? And maybe in doing that, think of a role model, someone you know or have heard of or read about."

In order to deal with the inevitable difficulties inherent in a life of activism, Sr. Dorothy has some direct advice:

Sock it to them! Somebody tells you ‘now that's impossible' or ' You can't go there': you just sock it to them and help them see ways to move forward. This is not meant to be confrontational or physical—it's your own challenge.

She suggests seeking help to face persistent obstacles when you hit a high brick wall. Find a friend or someone in a responsible position to help you out because if you've landed there, there's some purpose for it. "Surely to heavens you can turn to someone – always find someone to turn to, and don't turn to alcohol and drugs but find a human being to turn to".

Sr. Dorothy summarized her advice briefly and succinctly:

Be patient. Be creative. Be convincing. Avoid aggressiveness. Equip yourself with knowledge and information.