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More than 50 people participated in a conference 'CHANGE: A Window onto the Future' from 7- 9 September, hosted at Petrópolis, the Initiatives of Change centre in Sitio Sao Luiz, Brazil. Among these were pupils from the Rotary School (Santa Cruz da Serra), the community of 'Cidade de Deus' and Centro Lídia dos Santos (Vila Isabel) in Rio as well as participants from Sao Paulo, Colombia and Uruguay.
The aim was to work with a group of young people around the themes of 'Self-esteem' and 'Personal Relationships'. Workshops offered by Sandra de Lima, Douglas Pinheiro and Ismar Villavicencio from the movement 'Gente Que Avanza' (GQA) of Uruguay tackled these concepts and how these affect behaviour, exchanging personal experiences and involving the young people in themes which are familiar in the daily life of each person, no matter their age.
Among the exchanges of personal experiences was that of Reginaldo de Souza. He spoke about his personal change, how he had lived through the difficult conditions and choices life offered him and up until today, telling how barriers have been overcome and his family built. It was an emotional moment as many present identified themselves with his journey, his difficulties and the hope of overcoming them. Wanderley and Rosamaria Assis also recounted their experiences of forgiveness and change, telling of an important stage they lived through which included a time of silence, forgiveness and reconciliation along with the decision to live differently in their family. This lead to them working with other families in Ilha do Governador in Rio de Janeiro.
A unique moment was reserved especially for the teachers. They debated the challenges of the role of the educator, the family and a new way of seeing the relationship between pupils and teachers, preserving the values of respect and ethics, but including a proximity in order to build trust. Lucía Bohórquez, from IofC Colombia, shared her teaching experience in the classroom aiming to highlight a social problem in the University Minute for God (UNIMINUTO), motivating the pupils to suggest a solution which builds on the human principles needed to develop the art of living together, using Drawing Communication.
The conference also included times of relaxation and leisure. There were performances, afro-brazilian dances, games and music. One evening, a bonfire was lit and participants gathered around it and had a time of silent reflection to ask for forgiveness, to forgive or to thank for something. Several of the young people got up and spoke.
The final morning was the moment to talk about Frank Buchman (the founder of IofC), the four moral standards of IofC, and the practice of the quiet time. Alline Serpa briefly recounted Buchman's own experience of change – and invited Rosamaria, Luis Puig, Leonícia de Jesus and Vera Guerco to speak on Unselfishness, Purity, Love and Honesty respectively, using personal experiences and stories from daily life to illustrate how we act or fail to act according to these values. Finally the participants were invited to have 30 minutes of absolute silence in Sítio Sao Luiz. When everyone gathered together again surprising things were shared and, most importantly, decisions taken for the participants own lives.
The following poem was the result of the silent reflection of one of the participants (Marcelo Augusto):
Silence is the flavour of all things.
It is the song of all birds.
The green of all colours.
And all of these are ours and it is with all our silence that we appreciate them.
Life lived in silence is life resting.
It is the breath of the wind.
It is the softness of the earth.
It is the mountains, they are the sky
After all, silence is what you hear, what you are able to hear.
At all times, personal change was at the centre of the workshops, the dynamics and the personal conversations. 'As I am, so is my country', they concluded in different ways. Despite the various times with no programme which we spent sharing, making friends, playing and relaxing, the times meeting together when we discussed all the themes became very important because of the words of the participants themselves.
'Some time ago I was asking myself where I needed to change', said Romulo M (age 19), one of the participants. 'Change suggested with those 4 topics: love, unselfishness, honesty and purity, was without a doubt what touched me most and made me most uncomfortable. I hope to drop certain habits and practices, basing my thinking on the amazing philosophy which I have received here'.
Paulo F (age 21) said: 'One day at a time, one challenge at a time is the way forward. I will try to put this into practice as best I can'. And he added: 'Rarely have I had the pleasure to come across all the love I have witnessed in these three days.'
Douglas Pinheiro, who had already been with 'Gente Que Avanza' right through 2009 in Montevideo, Uruguay and today works voluntarily with IofC Brazil expressed this: 'It was rewarding to notice in the eyes of each of the young people how each word said by us during the workshops was accepted in their hearts. To know that here in front of us were lives of which we didn’t know the story and experiences, but which, without holdback, culminated in beautiful moments of deep sharing.'
This conference was only possible thanks to the generous help of individuals who believed in the importance of the event and trusted in the IofC Brazil team work. Other events are being planned with young people for 2013. Follow-up work with this group and work with new young people needs to be developed in order to build a new generation.
Initiatives of Change Brazil and Gente Que Avanza teams, September 2012
Translated from original by Lyria Normington
See the full report below:
|Youth Meeting 7-8-9 september 2012 Brazil.pdf||633.92 KB|
Who we are: Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Purpose: We work to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living.