NAVISS... Where bridges were built
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- Edad 22
Where? -Monastir, Tunisia
When? – 3rd-10th of August 2014
Who? -20 participants in addition to the trainers and the organizers from 7 different countries: Tunisia, Slovakia, Morocco, Egypt, Czech, Poland and Hungary:
Why? – NAVISS: North African Visegrad Summer School
Well, those were the circumstances in which we lived for a week as participants of the North African Visegrad Summer School. A summer school organized by PDCS (Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia) and AFC (Women and citizenship association- Kef, Tunisia)
Without any exaggeration, I would describe this summer school as one of the richest experiences I enjoyed until now.
If I would have to summarize the mission of NAVISS in one sentence, I would simply say: “Building bridges!” Building bridges to the future, to the past... Building bridges between different cultures, countries and communities.
With different activities, we had the chance to explore ourselves and our hidden capacities. For me, I knew new things about myself as much as I discovered about other participants. During one week, we have been writing down our dreams, discussing our cultures’ principles and habits, planning our future projects and sharing our knowledge.
From workshops and lectures to group challenges and an intercultural night, in fact, even little discussions near the pool or during lunch were an opportunity to learn more and exchange ideas.
Building bridges through time: One of the activities was about sharing one quote you have been told by one of your family or community members. Every participant wrote his quote on a small paper to put it in a box and after mixing all papers, each one of us picked randomly one paper.
For me, I wrote a quote that I believe in so much and it says in Arabic “الدوام ينقب الرخام”. It means in general perseverance pays off and with continuous work even solid rocks could be shaped. On the other hand, I had a quote from Egypt and it meant that as long as you have energy you have to keep working so that you don’t regret losing it once your death is close.
With wisdom and curiosity, we traveled quickly to the past not only through our elders' words and quotes but through childhood memories too.
During another activity, we wrote down our dream jobs and super powers we wished to have when we were children. And, believe me that was both surprising and nostalgic.
And now time to switch to the future! No, there were no aliens or super heroes. Our last task was to write down an article published in a famous newspaper in 20 years (or even more) summarizing our journey and showing each one of us as an example of a successful leader or whatever your dream is about.
Personally, I have always said that my vision is my fuel. I know the image I see when I close my eyes and imagine myself years from now (I already talked about it in my first post; you can check it here if you want).
However, writing down your vision in details and describing different milestones you imagined is a deep exercise even though it was done quickly. After publishing the articles in a sort of gallery, every participant kept his article so that he or she will find the inspiration and the necessary push when he/she reads it back home. I recommend everyone to practice this exercise and you’ll notice that your vision is getting way clearer.
Building Bridges between cultures:
There was no time when we said 'let’s share things about our countries right now'. It was more like a continuous exchange. We discussed the known stereotypes, what will always be stacked to our minds and bring it with us from our native countries. I even learnt new words from different languages.
Accepting differences and being open minded are the best qualities needed to ensure similar programs’ success. In one country we find differences from one community to another and even from one citizen to another. Yet, those differences are our treasure and uniqueness and this is the only way in which we have to see them.
We may be far away from each other geographicaly, but we’re closer than we could ever imagine. When the trainers challenged us to make a group work that brings change to the community without any previous preparations, all we thought about was bringing joy and showing people how much we care about them.
It doesn’t matter where you have been born or lived. Humanity will always gather us.
During my last post, I said that learning through reflection is my best tool to acquire lessons from my experiences. And writing this post helped me remember what I learned during this summer school. I recommend this method to everyone. Write down your thoughts about any experience you had, you’ll be surprised of the things that you kept in mind.
If you’ve ever used this technique or have another one, please feel free to share it with me in a comment down below!