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CONTATTI

Navigating your inner compass

Antwerp 6-12 November 2017

Organizer: Connected Elephant, Antwerp, Belgium

Participants’ Countries: Belgium, Sweden, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, Austria, Spain, Ireland, Malta, Greece

 

Before leaving for Antwerp for “Navigate Your Inner Compass”, I was never really able to explain to my friends what I was going to do there. I knew I was interested in the topics we were going to address during the training: sexuality and identity. I knew there would be other twenty people coming from ten different countries. I knew we would share one week together.

 

But little I knew about the inner journey we were about to experience.

In fact we did not only share skills, ideas and tools on sexual education. Nor we just compared how sexuality is seen in different countries and cultures. We also addressed topics only partially related to sexuality, but deeply related to personal identity and inner leadership.

Thanks to a non-formal educational approach, the rules were few but simple: you chose to be here, you are responsible for your own learning, it is up to you and your needs how you want to live this experience.

You are responsible for yourself: it is liberating just as much as scary. But that was the challenge.

Day by day we created a safe space within the group, not only during our activities but also in our free time. We learned how to trust each other, listen to our emotions, follow our needs, accept our vulnerability, being accountable for our actions. And we learned how to share and how to be empathic, how to use compassionate talk and how to deal with unpleasant feelings. We took time and space for ourselves, and we gave our time and space to others.  We laughed, we fought, we cried, we supported each other.

And then, just as we arrived from different ways, we went back to our lives, taking with us all the new enriching experiences we developed during those days.

To me, it was an occasion to learn more about sexuality-related social work, to meet people from different realities, share our experiences and, of course, improve my English as well. But it has also been an opportunity to learn how to work in a team addressing very delicate matters, gaining practical and theoretical techniques, and growing on a more personal level. It allowed me to reflect with others on how complex and important sexual identity is, and how much it is connected to norms, power structures, traditions and personal experiences. And it gave me new ideas and inspiration for further developing the subjects of gender, sexuality, body and identity in my work and personal research.

Sometimes, it takes a plane, an unknown city and a group of strangers to (start to) learn how to navigate your inner compass.

Anna Merenda Somma.

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