Mai Spann-Wilson is giving an Annual Sessions Keynote talk and offering a series of workshops during Annual Sessions. His keynote address on Friday, July 30 from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm will engage All-Ages work on Anti-Racism. An experienced, licensed social worker, Mai has worked with people of many different backgrounds. Learn more about his calling and his vision for his workshops in this interview.
Q: You are an experienced licensed social worker leading group therapy sessions at the Men’s Center For Growth and Change. These men cope with anxiety, trauma, substance abuse and other challenges as parents. Does your Quaker faith come into focus more deeply as you do this work? Do the men you work with reference faith in their own lives?
That is an interesting question. I do not often think of my faith in the context of providing therapy. However, when mentally preparing sessions I do remind myself that this is what I was called to do.
Yes, when I am still with spirit I am often reminded of that. It is my belief that being a healer is my greatest gift from God. Having opportunities to provide therapy, facilitating transformative workshops, and working closely with staff members and teams is all work that I cherish doing.
Q: Your bio for your sessions Keynote on Friday, July 30, at 7:00 PM, describes you as a mediator, social worker, rapper, singer/songwriter, music producer, and published poet. But you also do other projects as an entrepreneur, can you tell us a little bit about those?
Much of my work as an entrepreneur is leading diversity and conflict resolution trainings/workshops for nonprofits, public/private schools, and in the higher education industry.
I have had the opportunity to provide professional development at several Friends schools in the area. Also, I provide individual therapy through an organization called Full Being Services. My entrepreneurial endeavors started six years ago, focusing on providing workshops for youth, but has expanded since then.
Q: You lived for a time at Pendle Hill; how did that affect you? What did you bring away from that in terms of your Quaker Faith?
Pendle Hill is such a beautiful arboretum and I enjoyed my time living there.
To be honest, Pendle Hill served as a time in my life where I was still conflicted about my Quaker faith. I was 18 years old when arriving and although I loved the community I still kept a lot of the Quaker programs at a distance.
Pendle Hill was my safe space where time slowed down. I feel much more clear about worshipping as a Quaker today and I am a member of the Ujima Friends Peace Center in North Philadelphia.
Q: The PYM Youth Programs theme for the coming year is “Building the Quaker Community We Want to Be.” How does your workshop with youth connect to that and what will Friends come away with?
My vision for the workshop series is for them to be a multi- generational experience where youth invite adults they trust to have discussions about social justice. Before having a final workshop together both cohorts will have individual workshops focused on exploring more challenging experiences and ideas rooted in social justice.
The frameworks I introduce will allow participants to take a deeper look into some of the societal harm that has been caused and our responsibility as a community to provide healing from those experiences.
Q: Lastly, You lead multigenerational workshops on social and racial justice. In these kinds of workshops how do the adult mentors play a role? Please share how this kind of workshop developed and your experiences with them.
I believe that leading a multi-generational workshop series was one of the more rewarding experiences I’ve had as a workshop facilitator.
The idea came from meditating on the question why do we often separate children from their parents when doing workshops? Often when leading workshops I find adults and their children are not given places where they can participate in activities together as a family.
Having the experience to participate in a social justice healing workshop as a family is important because our family members have a unique perspective on our life experiences and what it is on the most human level that we bring to this world.
Thank you Mai! We all look forward to seeing you at Virtual Annual Sessions 2021!
Multigenerational Workshop with Mai Spann-Wilson
- Adults who are family members, meeting friends, and mentors to high-school age Young Friends should please sign up ASAP to attend the Tuesday, July 6 workshop with Mai, which is the first workshop session and preparation for adults to join the multigenerational session with youth on Saturday, July 31.
- Rising 9th-12th graders (Young Friends) should register for Youth Programs at Sessions to attend the online workshops with Mai on Thursday, July 29 and Friday, July 30, from 4-5pm. There will also be a multigenerational session on Saturday, July 31.