Connecting local responses around the world
Global Learning Festival (GLF) was something I heard of during the World AI Conference in Ghent, Belgium in April 2012. It was through one of the very active delegates, Jan Somers by name, who was seen all over the place, clicking ace pictures of the activities and the delegates in the Conference. When I was introduced to him as a delegate from Chennai, India, Jan promptly said he was visiting Chennai later in the year for GLF. I thought little of it then as learning and festival were at contradiction to me then. Soon after I returned, I was introduced by email by a common friend (Kiran Kandade of Singapore) to a Rituu Nanda. Rituu took on from there to establish an active and sustained friendly relationship with me over email and skype. Rituu’s charming persistence and enthusiasm to educate me on the significance of GLF and her confidence that it was an event I would enjoy and learn from, is the reason I enrolled myself as a delegate for it. Today, I thank you, Rituu, for your persuasion.
GLF turned out to be a conglomerate of committed community facilitators and supporters, with life-inspiring stories of their experiences, reflections and insights. GLF also turned out to be just what it was called – a Festival, a celebration of the human life and its potentials. GLF was a learning opportunity as we shared our stories and worked together to build dreams that could work for communities and us. I have had many impressions from the five days I spent at the differently designed backdrop of the INDECO Resorts in Mahabalipuram. I got the biggest impact on my outlook, experience and learning from Jean Louis Lamboray. I shared this story at the GLF feedback session then, and am still awed by the impact of the realisation experienced. This is my story.
Fortunately for me, I was teamed up with the group that Jean Louis was leading to a SALT visit some distance away from Mahabalipuram. We took a break enroute near a village and near another bus-load of pilgrims. The pilgrims were in groups, resting. I started a conversation with one group and learnt about their pilgrimage, their customs and rites for it. Later, when I joined Jean Louis, he was interested in starting a conversation with another group of pilgrims. I was the interpreter for him and the pilgrims. Jean Louis asked several questions and I enjoyed my role as the interpreter. When Jean Louis asked me a specific question to which I knew the answer as I had gathered it from the earlier group, I volunteered the answer. Jean Louis insisted that I asked it to the pilgrims. I was puzzled at this and insisted that the response I provided was authentic. Jean Louis was persistent. Reluctantly, I posed the question to the pilgrims and they gave me the same response I had volunteered to Jean Louis. I translated the response to him, almost in a tone that said, ‘I told you!’. Jean Louis smiled and said with a nod of satisfaction. “Now, I am satisfied. I insisted on your asking them the question because what I was interested in, was not the answer. I wanted to convey my interest in them through the questions and if you had answered me without asking them, they would never have known it. It is not a matter of questions and answers and knowledge here. It is a matter of connecting with them and that is important in a SALT visit.” I was dumbstruck with the realisation of what he meant. This was the essence of a SALT visit too.
As a soft skills facilitator, boasting of communications as my niche expertise, this bit of realisation has impacted me greatly and I would qualify it as the biggest learning I took away from GLF.