I want to take the opportunity to express my gratitude and send a BIG THANK YOU to each and everyone who took part in turning the first Integr8 program to reality. It took a massive effort to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and they were MANY!
The 9 participants continued to come to the program week after week filled with curiosity and enthusiasm. Below are some quotes that captures the impact of the training on them:
Integr8 is a community development project that helps refugees and asylum seekers integrate into their host community and start creating a positive life experience in South Devon.
We see a world that is enriched by the diverse experiences and unique gifts that refugees carry, and we aim to see everyone feeling respected, included and able to embrace their differences and celebrate their identities.
To turn this vision to reality we launched our first program in July 2016. Between participants, volunteers and facilitators, we had 40 people from England, Somalia, Eritrea, India, Sudan, Congo, Poland, China, Puerto Rico, Iraq, Wales, Lebanon and Syria who took part in this ambitious project.
In collaboration with other local refugee support agencies, the program was delivered in two main parts:
1) Passion4Change Training
This is a 4-day personal development training delivered by Saif Ali, personal growth coach and group facilitator. The training aims to help refugees and asylum seekers unlock their true potential, re-ignite their ultimate life vision and feel empowered to start making a positive difference in their life and the world, beyond their life limitations.
Thanks to Cassie Roberts CEO and co-founder of Open Doors International Language School for offering their wonderful venue to deliver the training. And special thanks to Dawn Utku who made us feel welcome throughout the whole recruiting and delivery time.
“ I liked everything about the training; It is informative, easy to understand, great exercises, powerful training, interesting topics. I learned that I can live a better life feeling happier and more confident. I also learned that I have the power and faith to change my life. It made my personality stronger and smarter. I am now more clear about my goals, strengths, limits and solutions to achieve my goals easier. I enjoyed the lunch and our conversations. I like the exercises we did to know about our values and personal strengths and how we can understand our personality and discover our talents. I liked the new way of understanding our self, the creative thinking exercises and the team work. I learned about the difference between the limitations and excuses, how I can ask questions and find solutions, how to understand my situation and how to draw a road or make a clear plan or vision.
I am completely confidant and I CAN MAKE THE CHANGE.”
“I learned to be positive in life and never give up no matter what. I met new friends and I enjoyed the class because it was helpful. I learned that I can live a better life and be a better version of myself and be useful to society. I feel great!”
“This training was a very useful and understandable. It has a lot of impact on my personality. It shaped the way I deal with my daily life. I learned that I have passion for educating of women in my country and elsewhere. I know my self a bit more now and I have a clear vision of my future. Everything on this training was brilliant because everything was useful to me. I like the feeling that I’m learning something new. I learned how to find a solution for my problems and how to rise my voice to protect my thoughts and my beliefs.
I have more positive thoughts and bout life. I know now that I’m stronger than I believe and I can change my life to the way I want”
I have created a facebook page where I post personal development related videos, infographics and short articles to empower ethnic minorities, including refugees and asylum seekers, to lead a fulfilling life in the UK beyond their life and personal challenges. Please connect with and share it with people who may be interested.
2) Intercultural Training & Retreat
The same participants who finished the Passion4Change training have attended a 2-day residential training and retreat at White House - Dartington with other UK residents.
We run this in collaboration with our partner Dartington Hall Trust. Thanks to Steve Bradford and Sonja Hughes who did an exceptional job in turning White House into a welcoming place for everyone, and coordinating the retreat activities and food.
The main aim from this residential was to create a unique opportunity where people build cultural and social bridges and overcome cultural barriers.
On the first day people attended an intercultural training. Delivered by Jane Silver, language and intercultural trainer, the training helped people build personal and intercultural communication skills and to relate to the world in a new way, understand their own culture and British culture and adapt to living and working in the UK.
By the end of the day, people learned about:
- How culture affects the way we see the world
- The visible and invisible aspects of culture which can lead to misunderstanding
(body language-including greetings, eye contact, perceptions of time, space and values)
- Cultural communication styles in the UK and around the world
- How to avoid and manage misunderstandings in the UK
There will be an ongoing process of online education on our Integr8 facebook page with topics that help people integrate and learn about cultural sensitivities and communication styles in the UK and around the world. Please connect with and share it with people who maybe interested:
The day ended by sharing a delicious potluck dinner while listening to a wonderful live music by the talented Michael De Koning and Tess from Schumacher College.
Potluck food was kindly prepared and donated by the generous people in Totnes to show welcome and love to participants.
The second day consisted of different retreat activities at Dartington estate. The retreat format helped people step out from a stressful lifestyle to be able to relax, connect deeper with people and explore their learning from the first day. Activities included:
- Nature walk at Dartington Gardens: Lead by Paul Mukerji, this walk gave people a great chance to connect with each other and with South Devon’s land. People had the opportunity to have deeper conversations and form stronger connections. Paul Mukerji, you are a star!
- Pottery workshop: This workshop helped people connect with Devon’s earth, learn more about the land and have a relaxing and fun time. Thank you Lou Rainbow and Michael Martin for facilitating it so wonderfully! People have absolutely LOVED it.
- Sharing delicious food at Schumacher College: Thanks to Julia Ponsonby, Voirrey and the Schumacher volunteers for the most beautiful lunches.
- Self-discovery workshop: This helped people form a stronger connection with themselves and have the chance to explore their purpose, strengths and share that with others. This, again, gave people the opportunity to learn about each other’s dreams and hopes for the future. This gave everyone the chance to connect with the human behind the cultural curtain and discover that we are all similar on that level. Thank you Inez Aponte for the unique skills, you were inspirational.
- Visiting Dartington farm: The aim of this visit was to introduce people to a new aspect of the life in the UK, particularly in South Devon. Dartington Dairy Farm is an ethical organic farm. The owners of the farm have inherited and maintained a 600 year old farming culture. That visit has enriched people experience over the weekend. Thank you Jon and Lynne Perkins for the tour and delicious ice cream.
Below is a few quotes from the participants:
“Meeting people from different cultures and learning about the reality of refugees and asylum seekers. An opportunity to reach outside of the bubble”
“I enjoyed sharing meals and discovering the similarities that we have between us.”
“Kindness, friendship, respect, love and unity”
"I thought there is no more sympathy left in the world. But today I met many people who showed us love and compassion"