10 March 2018

Six days of learning and sharing - Life is where we learn nonstop

It looks like yesterday that I had my first leadership training, but it goes all the way back to the late 80s. Luckily, I have had opportunities to learn the same course in different schools of thought over the past 3 decades including one at Harvard Kennedy School. The last one was, however, in early March 2018. Life is exciting and a university on its own where we learn nonstop.

4th- 9th March 2018 seem history now as they are gone and gone forever, but well spent in Markfield, England with about 45 wonderful people gathered from across Britain for Citizen UK’s National residential training. We were there as it takes us all to see change happen and work with others in the process.  Yes, we can’t afford to be bystanders. In the words of Neil Jameson of Citizens UK, “If you are a player, you make change happen. If you are an observer, you watch it happen. It is important to work with people we don’t necessarily agree with as being in action together gives people hope.” The message was clear and one that resonates to many. Nobody would have joined the training unless there was a desire to make a difference; to make the world a better place for us and the future generation. Jiten Patel, one of the participants said, “we have borrowed this world from the future generation and have a responsibility to hand it over in a better shape.”

Sometimes we feel angry when we see or hear about injustice. Good to have that anger. Anger to stand up, get counted and be the wheel of change and stuck in the change making process. When there is injustice, we are there to fight it and get it right. Carina Crawford Khan of Citizens UK, who was one of the trainers, was right to say, “when you face injustice inaction is not the option.” Action is what is needed to see change happen, but it needs to be organised. We should also be political as we live in the world as it is - striving to take it to where it should be.

During the six wonderful days together, we didn’t only learn how we can bring about change; how to build power in a relational way to see that change; but we also built relationships; helped colleagues and others in Birmingham, the youngest city in Europe, with their Common Wealth assembly and had fun. We also sung together with young and old as we are all keen to see The World in Union.

Among the highlights of the week for me was to meet new people that are ready to go extra mile and kind enough to share their stories and feelings openly; ready to engage with others; enjoying the training and making sure the training was an experience worth having.  It was also good opportunity for colleagues to help one-another, to step in when needed and share wisdom and experience in the process. Yes, we were there as a team and for a purpose. Above all to learn as we are a learning organisation. The assembly organised by Birmingham Citizens was an excellent experience for many. Those young students singing and dancing and telling the world that they  have dreams; the newly resettled little kid saying, 'Thank You’ was heart moving; the social event organised by the trainees on Thursday evening was phenomenal and second to none. These all remain in our memories for a long time. 

We were also blessed to have Elizabeth Valdez of The Metropolitan Organization and learn from her wealth of experience. And of course, yet another opportunity to learn from our very own Neil Jameson who is in the process of handing the baton. Six days well spent learning and sharing.  It is time to reflect and come back with plans for actions.  

The Global Refugee Forum – time for meaningful participation of Refugees

  As the Global Refugee Forum takes place between 13 - 15 December 2023 in Switzerland, it is vital that we have meaningful participation of...