The three days were packed with activities and energized by the enthusiasm of about 60 participants. The conference followed the pattern of the previous meetings. Mornings started with a ‘quiet time’ for personal reflection, followed by small group check-ins. There were morning plenary sessions, afternoon workshops, and concluding ‘networks for action’. Sessions were facilitated using World Café and Open Space Technology methods. The opening address was delivered by Vijitha Yapa, a leading publisher and journalist from Sri Lanka.
The afternoon workshop facilitators hailed from Denmark, Malaysia, and India. The KL Lecture Series on the theme Education: Today’s Realities, Tomorrow’s Expectations was presented by three speakers - Tijak Chopil from the Orang Asli (indigenous) community, Ansalam Doraisingam who works in theater, and Melissa Norman from the job placement company Kelly Services. The panel discussion was moderated with humour and grace by Malar Ramalingam. There was also an Expression Night for performing arts talent and a Marketplace for the sales of books and crafts.
The plenary titled ‘Initiative of Change’ examined the process of bringing ‘change within’ to the employees of BESCOM, a massive public sector electricity supply company in Bangalore, India. Dilip Patel, one of the prime movers of this initiative, outlined details of this programme and the resulting change that flowed through the organization. The practice of daily ‘quiet times’, a space for inner reflection, was the key that enabled the ‘change within’ to happen in peoples’ lives. (Read more about the BESCOM initiative.)
Unforgettable was Rohini de Mel from Sri Lanka who at 87 years young got on stage to do a rap song with her workshop group. It was also the first time there was a Cambodian landmine survivor at the conference. It would be no exaggeration to say that many cross-cultural/national friendships were forged. Two radio interviews – one before the conference (Bernama Radio 24) and one after at (BFM 89.9) – captured the outreach into Malaysian society. Some comments from participants:
- Eni from Indonesia: ‘Learned much … listening, sharing and connecting with others to make your dreams come true – to make change happen!”
- Cheat from Cambodia: ‘Very exciting… exposed to different people… learned many life-skills.’
- Amutha from Malaysia: ‘Want to bring my father next time for “out-of-the-box” thinking … very enjoyable too’
The organizing committee under the leadership of Dr Robert Chen worked hard to put this initiative together and much gratitude remains for all those who made this possible.
report by Padmini Solomon