No comments yet
06 October, 2017

A personal reflection by Panisha Pandoria (pictured right) on the recent School for Changemakers (SfCM) training in Cross Cross-cultural communication

Participants arriving at this year’s School for Changemakers left inhibitions outside and dived straight into becoming aware of their own cultural make-up amidst faces old and new. Suzanne Schuler and Frederick Way from The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) fantastically led the weekend focusing on culture; the origins, the future and what we experience within communities in this day and age made for interesting discussion throughout the weekend.

Suzanne, a fascinating woman of German heritage brought with her a sense of humour matched by none. Having worked worldwide, particularly in Nubia, gave her a wide breadth of cultural experiences which she shared with us in a gratefully inclusive way. Frederick, a theatre aficionado and barrister with infectious enthusiasm was exceptional at helping teams work better and stronger together. Skilfully identifying individual strengths and drawing them out throughout the weekend increased development and confidence amongst the group. 

Delegates spent time discussing stereotypes, both put upon yourself and those which you impose on others bringing internal depth and insight. This led the focus onto seeing how they are ingrained, how to be aware and how to understand the consequences of doing so, through reflection and interactive activities. 

The facilitators went on to focusing on direct and indirect communication, opening Changemakers up to evaluate their own communication spectrum and how to both use this to an advantage, and recognise this in others. Working within 'like-minded' teams shed light into how this can’t be put into two distinct pools however helped to increase awareness into enhanced communication skills.

We were also visited by Karina Valencia and Miguel Avalos, two people passionate about their life’s work and how their partnership focuses on their values and development, incorporating this within their life’s travels.

Throughout the weekend, the values and ethos of Initiatives of Change were highlighted and there was a session specifically delving into the history of Frank Buchman and Irene Laure. Tying this in around our sessions was a great way to link past learnings and future development as well as showing Changemakers the effect and results of their work.

The culture of School for Changemakers itself was coherent throughout the course; Denny ingeniously erected tents and camping beds in the offices automatically creating a warm atmosphere, not least for those new to the programme. Leading the delegates to work in shifts helping to clean, mop, take care of dishes and tidy up at the end highlighted the community spirit SfCM never fails to create and strengthen.  

The team from CEDR led delegates to delve into personal power, professional power and social power; how much of this you hold, how to deal with the stigma thrust upon you in a position of power as well as understanding the element of power in different scenarios. 

Active listening also played a great part into the weekend, working with each other demonstrating and developing skills as well as understanding the power of active listening. With participants ranging from first time delegates, to alumni who attended the first ever School for Changemakers, these active listening skills were well utilised!

As ever, there was a great atmosphere to develop new relationships and cultivate old friendships with discussions ranging from social activities and creating powerful change.

Culminating relationships where the conversations are based on more than people and events is something many people appreciate from events such as SfCM in turn helping them to enhance their selves and taking that away to implement within their daily lives.

Coming back for a fourth year gave me the chance to reflect on my journey through the last four years. Spending time focusing on my goals and values led to me to enhance youth activities in my own community creating a positive impact upon the young people around me. Having a platform such as this, developing leadership and facilitation skills (plus many others!) amongst like-minded people, within a safe space allowing for personal development is something I’m forever grateful for. Being introduced to SfCM by a member of my community, and in turn having brought along new delegates has taken me full circle. Watching them progress and grow, both throughout the course and in the years that follow make me grateful to have been involved in a programme such as this and proud have the opportunity in continuing to doing so.

Related Posts