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The Tools for Change (T4C) 2011 Conference in Kuala Lumpur, organised by Initiatives Of Change (MRA IofC) Malaysia between 24th and 27th February, was the third in a series of meetings that began in Kuala Lumpur in 2009 when it was first held outside Europe. MRA IofC is ‘an idea in action’. Its vision: ‘a world transformed – through change in attitude, actions and structures’. Its mission: ‘You can plan a new world on paper but you have to create it out of people’.
The central theme of T4C conferences is about how individual change at the micro- level may be manifested positively to affect societal change at the macro level. Workshop themes are selected with a view to emphasize how personal change facilitates social, environmental, institutional, economic and political change to bring ourselves, our families, communities, nations and our world to a better place. The issues being complex, participants grapple with solutions to challenges that face the individual and the world through the interactive opportunities that are made available at the Conference. The morning sessions of World Café and Open Space and the afternoon trainings at Workshops aim to foster cooperative learning communities of mutual respect, wholeness and inclusivity, based on the strength of human diversity.
The Participants and Interactions
The serene atmosphere of the Institute for Diplomacy and Foreign Relations ( IDFR) in Kuala Lumpur was a buzz of activity for the 3 1/2 days of the conference.
As in previous years, the 2011 conference was well attended with strong representation from the Southeast Asian region as well as bringing together representatives from distant places worldwide. All in all, 70 participants attended from 10 countries - Cambodia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Australia, the UK, Vietnam, the USA, the Philippines, India and Malaysia. It was a time of reflective learning and sharing for participants from various walks of civil society, educators, students as well as various NGO representatives, spread across age, gender and work experience, as well as nationalities and ethnicities that contributed much to the depth and understanding of the topics that emanated from the World Café, Open Space and the 6 Workshops. The discussions and interactions were insightful and productive, supporting further plans for IofC networking and action plans for the future.
A Summary of Events
Morning Events : Days 1, 2 & 3
Registration on the first day was followed by an introductory session of World Café. Facilitator Rob Lancaster took the participants through an energiser activity that enabled the first round of table interaction to convey the core message that participants are in a cooperative and level learning community.
At the subsequent formal Opening Plenary, IofC (Malaysia) Vice-Chairperson, Haridas, warmly welcomed everyone. David Curtis delivered the Keynote Address on Positive Change. It was about his personal journey with IofC over the past 30 years. This was succeeded by enthusiastic testimonies from 4 returning attendees from previous T4C conferences who spoke passionately, with gratitude, about the positive changes that occurred in their lives consequent to their participation and why they were coming back for more. Regina Morris who facilitated this section of the programme, presented some powerful short videos to reinforce personal stories of the power of ‘change within’. The first morning plenary ended with another session of World Café.
Days 2 and 3 were also based on the pattern of the earlier conference schedules with Quiet Time followed by breakfast and Small-group Check-ins with table facilitators who were present for clarifications and de-briefs. Morning Gatherings came after. On Day 2 it was themed ‘Change Within and Around Me’ - an Action for Life youth presentation about IofC. On Day 3 the case study on ‘Banking For Change’ focused on Mr Parthiban’s life story, showing how IofC core values impact the corporate world, bringing fair benefits to all. Open Space Technology was scheduled prior to lunch on all the days of the Conference. It was enthusiastically received by the participants who enjoyed the opportunity for relaxed interaction and a sense of fun. The large space in the hall allowed for the comical phrase “the law of two feet” and the more cryptic “bumblebee “ and “butterfly” to be actualised and practised.
Afternoon Events: Days 1, 2 & 3
The 3 afternoons were spent with trainers in Seeking Change/ Leading Change Workshops. These were entitled Negotiation Skills, Heart of Leadership, Positive Influence and Communication Strategies Across Cultures, Emotional Intelligence, Passion@Work, and Creators of Peace Circles. The 6 afternoon Workshops ran parallel over a total of 10 hours each.
Evening Events: Days 2 & 3
The second day ended on a light note with a cultural and musical presentation entitled Expressions by conference participants. The third night saw a sharing and dialogue on ‘Change Within’ through a Panel Discussion called the KL Lecture Series 3, facilitated by rights activist and researcher 3 Ms Suzanna George with guests Mr Steven Gan of Malaysiakini, Dato Ambiga Sreenevasan, former Chairperson of the Malaysian Bar Council and Mr Kiran Gandhi, a Human Resources Trainer from India.
Concluding Day 4
Day 4 made time for final workshop feedback, presentations and networking using the Open Space Technology concept both for individual and collective action. Certificates were collected post-lunch and brought another successful T4C conference to a close.
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.