October 25 2002
"Harvesting": the bountiful harvest of an intercultural meeting
25/10/2002 - Of what benefit is our work to our children and youths? Which aspects of my vast experience and the knowledge I have gained so far are of particular importance to my fellow colleagues of SOS-Kinderdorf International? These were the two leading questions that 20 English-speaking colleagues from Asia, Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe with a total of 303 years of SOS experience dealt with in the framework of our new programme called "Harvesting", which was held at the Hermann Gmeiner Academy.
"A smile on a face of a small kid means a lot, it could mean life to someone." (Participant in Harvesting)
Harvesting is a pilot project, which was initiated in the framework of the international human resources development programme. The project aims at harvesting the fruits of many years of work and at learning more, for instance through simple "narrating", about innovation, turning points, special successes, "best practices", moments of courage, "legacies" of executives. Together the participants discovered central factors that make their work become successful and satisfying. The aim of this is to initiate and enrich mutual exchange and in particular exchange amongst the different generations, which all people involved will take for granted.
Harvesting is a contribution to an exchange of experience and knowledge beyond borders, cultures, functions and hierarchic levels and thus a contribution to peace in the world. We were able to learn that these are not mere lip services, namely in particular during such moving moments at which, for instance, our colleagues from Israel and Palestine were facing each other, talking about the future of their work and both expressing the wish for peaceful relations which each other.
"Appreciation and respect to each other is the key to success." (participant)
The team of the Training Department of the Hermann Gmeiner Academy conceptualised and implemented Harvesting as a platform for exchange. By means of an affirmative approach from the field of organisational development and supported by lively and creative methods we accompanied the colleagues through these two weeks. As a training team we continued being amazed about the commitment our colleagues from all over the world show in their work. The values anchored in the leading principles of our organisation such as courage, commitment, trust and accountability became alive through this exchange and evident in many a story. There was one thing we all agreed upon: Being a constituent in a world-wide organisation means enjoying support and having the power to trust that even the most threatening situations will eventually lead to a positive result.
Below, we would like to quote some participants in Harvesting:
"In SOS we have to make any efforts - professional and personal, to fight for every single child and look for non-standard solutions."
"The most important factor in SOS is the building up of the relationship with the children and finding out how to help them achieve success in life. My personal life-giving factor is the feeling that I'm doing something worthwhile with my life and this makes me happy to get up every morning."
"...this incident gave me the hints that affirmative approach is the best way to solve our problems and it brings us very surprising positive results."
"Dreaming is a most useful tool and exercise to imagine your work more realistically."
The report of Harvesting will be available by the end of the year in order to make the "harvested crop" available to all our colleagues around the world.
SOS Children's Villages Hermann Gmeiner Academy
Tel.: +43 / 512 / 3316-0
Fax: +43 / 512 / 3316-686
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