As new Recrear members Kelli Rae Fleming, Caitlin Flannery and Lala Minoli got ready to deliver our latest projects on Ecuador’s border with Colombia, Recrear Executive Director Gioel Gioacchino, now a Sauvé scholar, sent them a letter to share her insights from her work in the field. Here is her letter:
My Dearest Kelli, Caitlin and Lala,
I wish I could pack in an email all my experience with Recrear Projects – but I don’t think it would be possible for me or useful to you. I know you are feeling nervous but, to put it simply, it is unlikely that things will not go well. It might sound naive, but this is how I see it. So here are a bunch of random personal reflections which might offer some insight.
Basically, the concept of “sharing” is at the essence of a Recrear project. The word sharing doesn’t even do the idea justice. We create a common space where to merge experiences, skills, perspective, energy and stories. The “space” you create in your sessions and the opportunities that arise to enjoy the space (both for the trainers and the participants) allow for all experiences, skills, perspective, energy and stories to be recreated. (Please do notice the reference to our brand name.)
The “space” we create enables a give and take, which is the essence of the project. What you give and what you take is not predictable. However, based on my personal experience, I feel that both are crucial. If you are just trying to give, you are missing a lot of the essence of what you are doing, and will most likely be less receptive to the particular dynamics you are experiencing, which might lead you to miss out a lot. If you are just taking, not only might your message not be well-received, but there might be very little to take in the end.
One of the essential things to deliver a project is to be fully present. Being present will make it easier for you to see the opportunities you are being offered, and make the most out of them. Also, please please please, be responsible. You are responsible for every single detail of what happens. If one trainer is introducing an exercise, that does not mean that the other trainers are not delivering the session too. I feel that participants are much more receptive to what you are saying if there is a dialogue between the trainers, if they perceive that all of you are going in the same direction and are coordinated and feeding into the same discourse. This does not mean you should talk over each other, but you should add to what others have said, reinforce certain points, reiterate the points that your colleague has made to the group when you are working with a smaller group, etc. You are a team and each one of you is responsible for the session you are delivering.
Most of the times, reality and planning don’t match. Last-minute changes and unexpected problems will arise. What’s important is to keep cool. Freaking out drains your energy, makes you less focused, and messes up with the positive energy that you are trying to create in the “space”. If there is a problem, try to find solutions, be kind to each other, do not unplug, make eye contact, be flexible. When you are in emergency mode, it is easy to enter a panic zone – I do it all the time. To find solutions you need concentration: your colleague might have the solution, but if you are freaking out, you might not even be able to hear it. So be present for others too, and accept that sometimes you might not be able to find a solution.
One more thing: take notes. Take notes of the things you think about during the day. I deeply believe that the most fascinating ideas are found in the phrasing of things, rather than in the concept itself. Listen to people carefully, ask simple questions and see how different answers can be from what you expect. Usually you are going to be too tired to write a novel, but just take enough notes to remember the day. For example, here are the notes from my day today:
– “I am so excited! this is my first bank account” (comment from Handy – Cuba – returning from his bank appointment).
– Najne from Iran: “We do, do do do do – we are human doing. But I want to use this year to figure out how I can live like a human being”.
– Went on a run during sunset – listening to Latin America – weird to be in downtown Montreal and thinking about Latin America.
– Everyone is so incredibly positive I just want to swim in them.
– Finally went to buy food! The little things in life that give you joy.
And finally, enjoy! Enjoy the exchange you have with the participants, enjoy the sunsets, enjoy each other, enjoy sleeping deeply because you are exhausted, enjoy feeling connected. Please do enjoy, because I really believe the more you enjoy the more you give.
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