April 1-3, 2016
Hoog Soeren, the Netherlands
The Home Country Module for the Dutch EPIL team was held in the first weekend of April. A beautiful spring weekend, in which we convened in Assel, at the Don Bosco- centre. This is a small roman-catholic community, with accommodation for youth groups, surrounded by nature. This proved to be a great location to meet each other and work on themes such as leadership and dialogue.
In our module the group used three methods.
The first is the EPIL method of convivencia, living together. Cooking, eating, walking, relaxing and sleeping together. We experienced similarities and differences across the group, in doing the dishes, sleeping arrangements and the need for the occassional smoking break. The programme contained a lot of space for conversations and informal meetings. Each morning we started with a meditative walk.
The second method was peer group reflection or intervision. Intervision is a dialogue procedure to enlighten a question or a problem of one of the participants, and to offer help in solving the problem. It is often used in teams or among colleagues.
Not only the contents are important, but especially the owner of the question. By interviewing this person, she will not only get insight into a possible solution, but also gets insight into the way in which her own attitude and strategies are involved. Intensive interaction is even more important than getting an answer to a question.
Throughout the whole weekend each member of the group presented a dilemma or personal learning question, connected to the theme of religious identity. The group engaged in the reflection process and helped the owner of the question to get more insight. This method was very helpful and was much valued by the group.
The group discovered some common themes, such as the difficulty in the internal dialogue with people of one’s own faith, who hold a different, often more orthodox, view on religion.
It is not easy to hold your ground in such discussions, especially when you feel condemned or judged, and the other person seems not really interested in mutual understanding.
In the reflection process we talked about learning to stand up for your own beliefs. Suggested strategies were finding allies and learning to speak about your values . Also several other themes were discussed, for instance: opinions about truth, learning to explain your life choices, dealing with dilemmas with regard to professional work and authenticity.
The third method used in this weekend were dialogue-exercises. In one of the exercises the group discussed texts from the Quran and the Bible. The chosen texts dealt with the theme of female leadership. The group did a hermeneutical reflection on this exercise, based on the articles on Hermeneutics in Dialogue from the EPIL-book.
Another exercise was led by one of the students, and it concerned a narrative approach to dialogue. In pairs the participants interviewed each other, in order to share stories.
Looking back, this module meant an important contribution to the group dynamics of the Duth EPIL team, as well as to the personal learning processes of each member.
We were blessed with a great working environment, with a lot of peace and quiet and beautiful surroundings.
Adfa Horreh, Lisanne Kalverdijk, Linda van Klink, Rita van Nierop, Joanne Vrijhof, Stella van de Wetering, Geertje de Vries (report).