Wednesday, July 10, 2019

People Craft Program, Crafting A Leader from the IofC Roots

“Life is not about finding yourself, Life is about creating yourself.” This beautiful quote from George Bernard Shaw is related to this pilot project, People Craft Program, created by IofC Australia. During this 9-week program, we delegates sharpened our skills, knowledge, and capacity exchange about IofC practices, processes, communication, organization, and program design. This program also increases cross cultural understanding and strengthens the IofC network as we came from different countries; Indonesia, India, and Zimbabwe.

I feel grateful that it also helps me to support my personal development and leadership skills. I can explore who I am, find my direction and my role as an individual, an IofC family member, and also as a professional worker.

After taking time for the selection and interview process, we met in Melbourne at the end of June. We are called partners because we became representatives from each country. We were involved with some programs that support a strong engagement for program goals. The partners stayed at the IofC centre with other boarders, cooked our own food and supported the running of Armagh like other residents. I have found a new family at Armagh. I love how everyone works together. We are not a family by blood, but we can create our own family in which we work together.

Living in a new environment and learning about how IofC Australia gain their friendships and organizations encouraged me to tackle the many challenges I have. I observed and understood how people are; their belief, assumption, way of living, style, common ethic, while slowly I was able to interact or communicate directly with the people. To keep on learning is one of the keys in the new environment. I believe, there should be one unique value in a culture that I should understand so that I know what they really mean by it.

During my time with IofC Australia, we worked with people who run the IofC programs. During my “working time” with IofC Australia I enjoyed the networking session. Rob Wood and David Vincent took us to so many IofC networks that help us to grow. We met wonderful people such as Shanaka Fernando, the founder of Lentil as Anything, a unique restaurant with a social enterprise concept, Carmel Guerra a director from Centre for Multicultural Youth, and a Mayor of Dandenong city, Youhorn Chea, and more. I got a lot of insights and inspiration from many people I met. IofC Australia has built a strong root of friendship and trust. I joined the weekly quiet time and the weekly Thursday group meeting before lunch. This gathering has been going on since the 1970s. This weekly gathering taught me about being consistent and having a commitment.

I also had a chance to share my knowledge and experience. As a Muslim person, I broke fast and collaborated with Tinotenda from Zimbabwe to create an Iftar dinner with a discussion session about Africa, “Envisioning Africa We Want”. We had an open discussion about our experiences and what the fasting month means for Muslim people. “We planned this for seven years and it just happened. I am so glad,” said one participant from IofC Australia. I created a discussion called Digital Talk. I shared about “How to Survive the Endless Disruption in Media”. Through this session a lot of thoughts and ideas came up from the participants.

The other special “gift” was having a personal mentor. The mentor is a safe space to raise concerns, ideas, and to give constructive advice. This is an opportunity for my personal development. My mentor was Mohan Bhagwandas. He joined IofC when he was in college and he is also a former International President of IofC International. I learnt a lot through his deep experience with IofC values and organization. I felt I got had the best of both worlds and felt challenged to grow.

I also had a great opportunity to have interstate travel. I stayed for a week with Andrew and Margareth Lancaster in Canberra. Rob Lancaster, one of Andrew Lancaster’s sons, picks us up from the bus station. He is an old friend as I have known him since I was involved with IofC; it felt like a little reunion. This family has shown me about gender equality and I had a chance to learn how they have been connected with IofC since they were teenagers and now, they are in their 70s and still involved with IofC. 

This program really reconnects my previous connections. It reminded me how I met Sashenka, a very good friend of mine whom I have not met for 8 years and now we reconnected. Also, I was staying with our honor ibu Barbara Lawler, “an amazing mother for the IofC Indonesia family”. I feel so grateful that we reconnected and did some activities with her. During interstate travels, I engaged with the wider IofC network and immersed myself in Australian home life and culture. During my interstate trip I learned a lot from community members.

We also developed a take home initiative to grow with our local team. I learn human-centred-design and used my time to identify a need of their local community or IofC team and to work to design and develop a project. For my first project, I am excited to make a ‘stories of change’ book. This will include people from many cultures, challenges, or maybe countries, who can share their ‘change’ stories to create a sense of engagement for all IofC communities and society.

Reported by Dahlia Rera O.