President's letter (5 March 2006) - "Why you should arrive Latina on Saturday 1st April"
From SI Exco News
Dear National Secretaries
Please make sure you plan your arrival for Saturday April 1, at Latina.
Your participation in all the activities of Day Zero (Sunday April 2) will greatly help you make the eGA effective.
Please read the following letter from the Askov participants. Please give them and this important preparation for your work at the eGA your support and attention.
We all look to greet you, individually, the evening of Saturday April 1 at the Park Hotel in Latina.
In peace and friendship
President – Servas International
5 March 2006
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Dear friends of Servas!
Last August 12 people from various European countries met at Askov in Denmark (the very place where Servas was founded in 1949!) to discuss the situation inside Servas. We all had a feeling that we would not, in any way, have ”another La Conreria”, as Servas could not bear that! One of our ideas was to offer to organise a Conflict Resolution session before the actual eGA, just to give the participants the possibility to reflect on the dynamics of conflicts and their resolution, with an "arm's length" view of the actual problems. This, we believe, will lead to a different, more positive atmosphere at the eGA, an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect, which will contribute to a more dignified assembly.
During the previous few weeks we have been planning for such a session. During this work, many good intentions have been put into comments and reactions. They were all given in order to improve and re-establish Servas as a peace organisation. From outside the Askov group, we will also mention Mary Jane Mikuriya and Gary Sealey who has given inputs and ideas. Development and mutual understanding of which direction to go, are of vital importance.
For this, we have asked Maj-Len Sundin and Siri Gunn Simonsen to lead/coach a Day Zero, before the eGA. For the eGA itself, Pat Patfoort, Julie Dotsch and Chris Jones will facilitate and conduct our work with the agenda, together with Chair and Agenda Working Group. Maj-Len is a highly respected and experienced manager and consultant in the fields of conflict resolution, and development and restructuring of organisations. Siri is a Norwegian Servas member who teaches these topics at a college.
Important to the thinking about the content of Day Zero has been that the processes of this day should not be too closely connected to the heavy subjects and motions on the eGA, but should concentrate on the preparation of conference participants in a much wider sense.
The actual eGA starts from Day 1, with various ways of handling the items: preparing in work-shops, discussing the main subjects, and then plenary sessions. There will be formal voting sessions. This has been taken care of by the Agenda Working Group. Everyone is asked to join a working group. Best results will come from the level of preparation done by the National Secretaries. Actions have been taken to simplify language and documents presented to the GA.
Day Zero partly came out of the Askov initiative. We realised that improvements could start with letting go of old misunderstanding. So we hope that the best result is not yet known, as we all get together on Day 0 to find something new! We do share the energy and enthusiasm for Servas, in the spirit of peace and open-minded curiosity, like all Servas relationships start.
Now we ask all participants, working group members and EXCO, to leave the coaching of Day Zero to Maj-Len. She will use her abilities and techniques to try and make her programme work. She will need our/your positive spirit and willingness to act out and take part in the activities, until late afternoon (approx. 5:30 pm). The details of the day will not as yet be described explicitly. But we will invite you just to join in and to be a co-creator of the development day! Most important is to meet to make the very best out of this Servas arrangement. When we meet, time is best spent to get to know each other and to share our visions and expectations, before we start the GA itself. To create new expectations, by means of neutral persons outside Servas, deserves this unreserved opening of the eGA, and that we have trust and confidence in this process.
Day 1 and the rest of the eGA has to be chaired and moderated by those responsible for this.
Pat Patfoort, moderator of the eGA, has expressed: “Too often, when we feel mistreated or abused, we only see two possible responses, either we behave aggressively ourselves, or we become completely passive. However, there is a third possibility: a way of acting without being either aggressive or passive. So there is not only the choice between dominating or being submissive; there is a way of being strong without trying to control someone else. To put this into practice, we first need to be conscious that this possibility exists, and most of all we need to know how to put into practice. This we can learn. The more people accomplish this transformation, the less violence, suffering and tragedy, and the more well-being, happiness and constructive energy there will be in the world.”
Now we ask for nothing more: take part in activities in Latina. Spread the trusting spirit to people inside and outside Servas. Be a peace-builder in every way!
In peace and friendship
The Askov Participants
Sus Thestrup and Jan Degrauwe (Denmark), Siri Simonsen and Dag Eirik Eikeland (Norway), Jan Simon and Jerry Lantz (Sweden), Hannu Huusko (Finland), Ewa Dzierzawska (Poland), Rita Dessauvage (Belgium), Eva Meggeneder (Austria), Jane Giffould and Jean Seymour (Britain)