The end of July was time for the most awaited event of LEAP: the onsite Mid-Term Meeting. This year’s meeting took place in a mountainside village of Churwalden in East of Switzerland where participants and volunteers gathered for the event from 24 to 31 July. As usual, the volunteers’ preparation meeting also took place from 22 to 24 July. For many, the favourite part of the program, once more, the mid-term meeting brought oikees students from different countries and backgrounds together united in values and goals of growing into conscious leaders of tomorrow.
We wanted to guarantee these days together would be a deeply restorative journey for everyone. For the volunteers preparation meeting, the goal was to create space for individuals to arrive at easy, for the team to bond and to become equipped with capacity and confidence to host participants in the following days. The mid-term meeting is as much of a journey for volunteers as it is for the participants. Activities as embodiment practices, solo reflection walk in nature, collective artwork creation, brave space circle and group dialogue exercises, were carefully carried together with sessions to build intention, prepare logistics and finalize the program’s agenda. Those activities allowed them to focus on 5 main grow zones in hosting and facilitation:
- Softening for quality of presence
- Learning to prepare, trust and let go
- Learning to work with diversity
- Exploring connectivity with self, team, nature and for the program’s agenda.
- Self-discovery and development
Once the volunteer team was ready, it was time for our beloved participants to arrive! Over the course of the week, our LEAPers explored each of the five dimensions of the Inner Development Goals – Being, Thinking, Relating, Collaborating and Acting. The program provided opportunities for everyone to ground, have space to reflect on themselves and to connect with others and nature, building key conditions for conscious leadership to flourish. Through the carefully picked agenda, the volunteers created a platform for participants exploring deep questions that might go overlooked in our day-to-day lives; to contemplate about past, present and future path in life; as well as to reflect about the roles and relationships they are currently involved with; to connect to their purpose with insights into ways of using talents and gifts to make a positive impact in the world; all while learning about and expanding interpersonal relationships.
The first and last days were fully dedicated for arrival and settling in & for celebrating and preparing for leaving.
For the Being day they experienced a spaceful time to develop a deep level of presence, with embodiment exercises, time in nature for connecting to self, games to get to know others in a fun way and creative reflection activity to build the intentions for the week. Yet, there was still time for exploration of topics for self-awareness as diving into our personal beliefs to the different aspects of life using the Wheel of Life exercise.
For the Thinking day, we had sessions to connect to your why and to build a long term vision for the future, and to explore complexity and perspective taking with multi stakeholder roleplay games.
On Relating day, our connection to nature was at spot. We reflected about our current development paradigm and worldviews in connection to our relationship to nature and experienced the outdoors with different eyes through exercises such as forest bathing in pairs and hiking using special intentional cards to foster contemplation and dialogue.
During the Collaborating days, some important activities were the Warm Data Lab around trust; exploring embodied communication; being creative and taking the lead with setting your own activities with the Open Space Technology and coming together to co-create the LEAP Summit, an event intended of being a giving back experience where participants bring back to their communities their learnings with the different Inner Development Goals at LEAP.
The Acting day was the final time to reflect, integrate and step up to how to bring all the LEAP experiences and learnings forward, exploring what we want to commit to and presenting the LEAP Summit ideas.
Still, in all the days there was enough free space for morning well-being activities, to spend quality time together along with delicious vegetarian meals and for evenings together sharing cultural or games nights, dancing or gathering for a look at the night sky and stars. Talking about the sky, as always, the outdoor element had great value in shaping the activities. For the most part of the days, we were blessed with sunny and warm weather that allowed us to realize the program’s agenda mostly in our terrace and green areas, which highlighted the incredible setting for this year’s meeting. Sitting on a gentle slope between towering mountains, we had the soundtrack of silence, the singing of birds and of a river water running. With enough free time allocated, participants would enjoy nature playing any of the few sports at hand, sitting down for contemplation or talks or going for walks exploring the beautiful surroundings.
With so many soul-food elements, the Midterm Meeting has a special place at the heart of every cohort. The in person element allows one to have time and space to explore themself on such a deep level, connect with peers and share personal stories and experiences, creating strong bonds between participants. As LEAP Meetings are very touching, a fundamental piece of it is creating a safe space for flow of trust and confidence and where everyone can feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, sharing emotions and feeling empowered to count on peers for support.
Connected to that, we want to first thank our volunteers! The meeting was an incredibly valuable experience, which would not have been possible without this amazing team who dedicated time and effort, taking part in creating and carrying out all the sessions and being role models, guaranteeing that the LEAP safe space atmosphere and culture was always omnipresent throughout the meeting. Their shared inputs, insights, experience and feelings provided unique guidance, encouragement and support to participants!
We also wanna thank our lovely participants for having had the courage to step in to work on themselves and to create a strong community and group spirit allowing a deep sense of belonging and connection to emerge! You all truly shined in that regard.
Here we share with you some of the participants perspectives and stories from the LEAP Midterm Meeting:
THE DAY BEGINS
We wake up early in the morning.
When the sun is still hiding behind the mountain.
When the clouds are hanging low covering the valley.
We step on the wet grass.
We let the fresh cold air touch our sleepy warm bodies.
We take a little hike up the hill.
We find ourselves surrounded by trees, rocks, a creek running through.
We take off our clothes. Embrace the chill.
And then we dip. Our feet. Our hands. Our full bodies. On the THREE. Into an ice-cold water. Feeling the power of the water falling creating tiny waterfalls.
Feeling our body parts sting. Blood rushing through our veins.
That’s how the day begins.
The sun shines over the top on the mountain.
It sprinkles the glitter over the water, tiny drops on our bodies.
Warms up our numb fingers.
The sky clears up.
The day begins.
“We kept calling our space PLAYGROUND. We were free to open our minds for all the possibilities, explore ourselves, our thoughts, learn about other people and nature. The moment in the mountain that teaches life lessons. Empowers to crave for deep experiences. Makes us fall in love with ourselves. Inspires to commit to our dreams. Shows how different and special each of us are. Sparks the hope for the bright future.
We talked about how we wished that every person has gone through LEAP experience at least once in their life. The world would be a different place – full of kindness, openness, support, and freedom. But until then, we can plant the seeds in our communities and create little LEAP moments every day”.
“This week was one of my best weeks in my entire life!! Being with the other participants in this beautiful place in Switzerland was just magical! It made me feel so well, so peaceful, so connected, so grateful and so much more and definitely helped me to become a better leader and person as a whole :)”
– Antonia, participant
“It’s been a beautiful learning journey & honour to be with you, witnessing myself and the group as we’ve been tinkering around with our comfort zones. The leap is part of my life for about 6 years now and this year would have rendered the first without my proactive involvement wouldn’t you have invited me to hold you in the process. This dedicated role allowed me to host from my essence, to be more myself than rarely before in my work. Boundaries blurring, and you allowed me to be ok or even embrace that. To trust that there’s a rosebush, not only the wondrous smell of a flower or the spikeyness of thorns. it’s been a real honour to meet everyone of you, see you grow and to share a little more of who I am becoming. I cannot wait to see where we will meet again, may it be at next year’s leap, in the virtual office or just a call away. I count on your adventurous spirits to think of me in the right moment – and I hold so much trust, compassion and love for all of you”.
-Sophie, oikos International team member and LEAP volunteer