In addition we added two special topics: the Power of Goodness and Permaculture. Permaculture was of tremendous interest. Over 25 participants got up very early each morning to attend a permaculture group before the training sessions and undertake tasks. This required more work and attention than special topics usually took.
A mid-week heat wave became excruciating. Some of the participants – not used to the Indonesian climate – became dehydrated or got heat stroke adding an additional strain.
The critical mass of English speakers drew the group into a speed and ease of English speaking the group have not experienced before. Non-English-speaking facilitators would give instructions multiple times because the group was not listening to them. The interpreters gave up. Nadine noted to the group that when we spoke Indonesian first they waited for the English, but when we spoke in English first the group began talking and acting and did not wait for the Indonesian.
Last year, we had over 40 participants and all went very well: We interpreted into five languages with highly skilled simultaneous interpreters (English to Indonesian, Russian, Korean, Nepali and Hindi) with just three participants who spoke English only. This year half spoke Indonesian and half spoke English with nine English-only speakers.
Pointing out the dynamic usually is enough to correct it. But between the heat, increased activity, and single-language interpretation, for the first time the team was not able to maintain our multi-lingual commitment with ease and grace. The Indonesians increasingly relied on Nadine, who was just recovering from a concussion and an embolism. She became irritated in the last couple of days at the sense of disregard for the interpreter and the group. She called attention in terse ways that did not feel peaceful or respectful, when the group itself was tired and stretched thin. For this, Nadine deeply apologizes. We gained a new respect for the challenges of our commitment to multi-lingual-rich environments.
For the future, the team therefore agreed to:
- Require heat management at Peace Place before any future international trainings.
- Post multi-lingual group agreements during the logistics on the first day.
- Assign a companion to the interpreter(s) to speak up for the needs of the interpreters.
- Hold advanced and newcomers’- workshops rather than mixing the groups.
- Welcome a limited number of guests of other languages in mono-lingual workshops and limit English speakers to one quarter or less in multi-lingual workshops.
The stresses did not diminish the tremendous value of the incredible training in peace, nonviolence, storytelling and permaculture, however. The gracious sharing among amazing participants was life-changing! We went home invigorated to take on the new challenges posed by the global expansion of faith in peace and dedication to practice.