This is the first of a series of articles about my personal experiences of how an NVC International Intensive Training (IIT) comes together. If you would like to find out more about what an IIT is, click HERE
I will be writing specifically about the IIT we are hosting in Romania from 20-29th October 2015 and my hope is this will be of interest and support to participants and organisers of past, present and future IITs. Find out about our Romanian IIT HERE.
The Seeds of a Dream
The IIT is still 6 months away but the journey started years ago for me in 2002 as a participant at an IIT in Hungary. I had first heard NVC at a conference a year earlier where Marshall Rosenberg was one of the keynote speakers. Right from that first contact I felt deep inside that learning NVC was a path I wanted to follow and immediately set about discovering all I could about it.
In those days I was living in Poland and working as a business trainer. NVC was not well known at the time but I managed to find a few people who were organising trainers from abroad to come and run workshops.
Signing up to go to the IIT in Budapest was a big step both in terms of time and money but I had no hesitation when I discovered there was this possibility virtually on my doorstep. It was a truly amazing and deep experience learning directly from Marshall and a team of trainers who were, for me, role models in living and teaching NVC.
I remember dreaming that one day I might have integrated NVC to the extent that I could be part of a trainer team in some distant, imagined future.
I attended a second IIT in 2005, this time much closer to home just outside Warsaw and again the experience was very powerful and rekindled my dream to be part of an IIT from the inside. 9 years later the dream finally came true and I was invited to the trainer team for the IIT in Germany which happened in 2014.
In the meantime, I met Monica Reu as part of the growing community of people in the region committed to learning and spreading NVC. One thing led to another and I fell in love (I think she did too), moved to Romania and then got married and started a family (Emma, aged 5).
Mona (who is now also a Certified Trainer) had organised Marshall to come to Romania some years ago for workshops and TV interviews to coincide with the launch of his book here. She had also attended an IIT which had sparked a dream in her to organise one here in Romania.
Are We Ready?
When CNVC requested input from the trainer network in July 2013, Mona and I asked ourselves if we were ready to host an IIT.
First thing to consider – would enough people want to come to make it feasible?
In Romania we’ve been active over the last years building awareness about NVC through conferences, social media, mass media and running workshops. As a start, three people we know of had been to IITs in other countries and we have a handful people working with us with an intention to teach NVC themselves. Our best guess was that we knew around 12 to 15 people who would want to come and probably a few others we didn’t know about. This gave us some comfort.
In Europe especially, Romania has been the subject of a lot of negative publicity, especially in the popular press. First things that spring to mind for many people in relation to Romania are tragic orphanages, beggars, poverty, horsemeat scandal, dictatorship, corruption and the Transylvania of Dracula folklore. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21550768
For myself, I saw an IIT here as a chance to make a small difference in changing this perception and show the beauty of the country and warmth and hospitality of the people. I had huge faith in those attracted to NVC to want to see beyond the negative stereotypes and see a lesser visited country as it really is.
Second thing to consider was the organisation.
Over the years I had got some glimpses into what might be involved in hosting an IIT. As a participant it was clear to me there is a lot to organise for 40 to 60 people and trainers and support team to come together in one place for 9 days. Could we find a venue that would give us the possibility and care we knew was needed for such an undertaking?
We also recognised these 40 to 60 people are not just any people. They are learning NVC and learning to speak up when some needs are not getting met (and not simply shut up and smile politely). While this is indeed a powerful manifestation of NVC, for an organiser of a retreat this represents a big challenge. Were we ready to take on this challenge and do our best to keep everyone happy and attend to the needs of all?
And finally – were we personally ready?
Our idea was that Mona would be the main organiser and I would be on the trainer team. Knowing each other quite well, we recognised our willingness to offer each other support and care by jumping in and giving advice to each other. Perhaps not the best strategy, but in daily life we manage. Taking on a project of this scale might well stretch our relationship and bring unwanted tension. We shared how this might be for us and got some reassurance that, even if some tension does result, we have the strength of connection, awareness and skills to deal with it.
Looking at all these factors, our conclusion was that we felt ready to take the leap so I contacted CNVC in July 2013 to express our wish to have an IIT in Romania sometime in 2015.
The Ball Starts Rolling
And so it began with an early response from CNVC to my contact and we started to develop a relationship with Elin Searfoss as the CNVC person who would be taking care of us.
My first impressions were quite different from what I had expected – in a very positive way.
My expectations were based on my 2 IITs as participant and another IIT in Poland where I knew the organisers very well and heard frequent updates (complaints!) on how the experience was for them.
The picture I had in my mind was that we were to expect a long list of very precise requests that would be held more as demands (‘we know what we’re doing and we’ve been doing it for years so follow our detailed instructions about how an IIT should be run’). I expected little or no adaptation for local conditions and I was prepared for a detailed programme and curriculum to be presented to us.
In reality I found the complete opposite of this.
I heard from Elin a few suggestions about things we might want to consider when for a venue (for example, distance from airports, room arrangements, preparing for fights over food). I heard lots of questions and interest in how we saw things, what we wanted from an IIT and how she could support us. And it was all offered with humility, a smile, a desire to support and a huge amount of flexibility. The best way I can describe the relationship is one of mutual support and partnership.
Looking back I guess things changed (and still change) when Marshall stopped running IITs a few years ago.
Back then Marshall was travelling extensively, living out of a suitcase and going to places with hugely varying conditions. I can imagine how important it was to have his basic needs taken care of and provide a certain level of comfort to help him sustain his energy and passion for this work.
Back then the support trainers kind of turned up and, as I understand, had little opportunity to prepare together but rather fit in around Marshall’s structure for the IIT. I guess this gave efficiency, stability and consistency when Marshall was the common link and lead trainer on all IITs.
It seemed to work. And now it also seems to work but with a very difference approach.
After these initial conversations and with our excitement growing we started to get ourselves ready, think about possible locations and continue our day to day work of spreading NVC. I was also invited, as part of our preparation, to join the trainer team for the IIT in Germany in May 2014.
Board approval came in October 2014 for an IIT in Romania one year later – in October 2015. So after over a year of building a relationship with CNVC and preparing ourselves we had 12 months to plan, mobilise, organise and make it happen.
The next steps were to decide the venue and get a trainer team together.
Next Article : Romanian Love Affair
Welcome! I'm Ian Peatey and this site is one way I share Nonviolent Communication (NVC) by writing articles and sharing information about NVC materials, news and people. I hope you'll be a frequent visitor.
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