This week, the RJ Center is highlighting Salomé Ragot, a sophomore at UC Berkeley. Salomé is an RJ Student Leader and teaches the RJ Center’s weekly Decal.
Here’s her bio:
Q: Tell me about where you grew up.
Salomé: So I was born in France, but I really grew up most of my life in the Bay Area. I think the most formative years for me, in terms of where I was living, were when I first moved to the U.S., when I was five. My family lived in the UC Village in Albany, which is very much an international community, lots of Graduate students lived there with their families. Lots of kids would play together in the courtyard, and that’s how I learned English, from being around the kids.
I think what living there taught me was to have flexibility and cultural awareness and tools that I can use to communicate with people about different life experiences, which I think is a huge part of Restorative Justice.
Q: How did you find out about the Restorative Justice Center?
Salomé: So I found out about the Restorative Justice Center through a training. I didn’t know that Restorative Justice even existed until then. It was such a different way to conceptualize justice, accountability and community and all those things. So after that, I asked Juls if I could get involved in the Center, and so I became a Student Leader the first year I was there.
I worked with Juls directly on web design my first year and participated in a couple of circles, but never really facilitated my own. And this year, I are in charge of the DeCal with José, another Student Leader. It’s my second semester facilitating the DeCal and I love it because it allows us to bring together people from different backgrounds and explain to them what RJ is and what it looks like. We discuss social justice and we try to understand what lens Restorative Justice can bring to it.
Q: And what would you say is your favorite part about working there?
Salomé: I think it’s taught me a lot about what Restorative Justice looks like in practice, and it’s taught me to be more confident in myself and to be in a position of leadership. I think my favorite part has been that we’ve been able to see what community can look like.
Usually in Restorative Justice, we establish community in the beginning of a circle, but we never really know at the end of the circle if we’ll see that same group and have that same group dynamic. It’s a very special moment to have for those one or two hours of the circle, but with the DeCal, it’s nice because you see the same people every week.
For example, I went out to lunch with two students from my class the other day. Because our class is very focused on community, it’s not just about the academic component, which has allowed me to meet other people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
In general, I love working at the RJ Center because I love how we as Student Leaders embody community and the Restorative Justice values themselves. We’re not just there to work on RJ on campus; we’re also working to use Restorative Justice among ourselves.
Q: How do you think working at the Path to Care Center has been supplemented by your work here at the Restorative Justice Center?
Salomé: I think that to me it’s a huge area of growth and building happens when you bring different elements of activism together. I think that sometimes we get caught up in the sexual harassment and sexual prevention world and more punitive notions. I think working at the Center has made me realize the structures in place that make it punitive (ie. the criminal justice system doesn’t address the needs of victims), so bridging those two has given me a lot more knowledge about long-term and preventative solutions.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
Salomé: I love to read. And I love reading outside when it’s a sunny day, like right now. Laying in the grass and reading. I love baking. It’s kind of a de-stresser and makes me feel so satisfied to make something that is both delicious and beautiful. I also really like running and swimming. And I love crafting and sewing — it’s where my inner Grandma comes out!
Q: What are three words that you hope for in 2018?
Salomé: Adventure, I love to be more adventurous over the rest of the year. I’m studying abroad in the fall, and I want to explore a lot of things I wouldn’t do otherwise. Since usually I’m more careful, I want to get out of my comfort zone.
Second thing, I want to do more listening because I feel like I have so much to learn from other people. So I want to be more of an active listener and learn from others.
The last thing is confidence. I want to learn how to find the power in myself to overcome challenges and persist even when things are difficult.