Check out this wonderful reflection written by Kate Johnston on her experience with our JUMP! Team at this year’s Into the Wild Conference in Germany!
On the 23rd of November 2019 a group of 12 Jumpers! left Thailand en route for Germany. We had been invited to the Into The Wild Conference near Dresden to participate in a week full of lectures and workshops all centered on the theme of the “Unheard of in Facilitation”.
We arrived a day earlier than the conference start date so that we could meet other members from the EDUCO family. For those who don’t know, JUMP! and EDUCO are one and the same thing: We are a part of the EDUCO network which extends across the globe and have had tight ties with the EDUCO family since JUMP’s inception. The pre-conference workshop was an opportunity for us to sit down and get to know EDUCO South Africa, Canada, Germany, and soon-to-be EDUCO Nepal. We were the representatives of JUMP! Thailand, but in reality to reduce us to one country is simply impossible for we as a team represent a mere snapshot of how international JUMP! truly is. We had people on the team who came from Thailand, China, Indonesia, America, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, and the UK. The pre-conference was a brief opportunity for us to share what each organization does in their respective country and to build connections that will keep the international alliance moving forward.
The conference started on Monday evening with an opening ceremony that involved silent eye contact. We made new connections through movement with interpretive dance led by Choreographer, Josef Eder, around the bonfire – a great way to break the ice, figuratively and literally because boy was it cold!
The subsequent days of the conference involved talks from various individuals on the “unheard of” in experiential learning, from: “Listening and wondering – the Unheard of and faded in the history of experiential education” and “Listening for what is not said: recognizing tacit learning” to “The Digital Experience”. The latter was by far one of my favourite lectures, perhaps because it was so controversial – the idea of incorporating the digital experience into experiential learning is practically unheard of since we spend most of our time trying to get students to disconnect from digital devices. Despite the controversy it was a thought provoking and fun lecture to attend because it got us up and running around playing “digital” games in the “analogue” world.
Another aspect of the conference was the workshops hosted by various attendees. Each EDUCO organization hosted their own workshop on a specific topic ranging from JUMP! Thailand’s examination of the Sustainable Development Goals and how can improve they way we impact them through our work to EDUCO South Africa’s deep dive into identity and community. The workshops offered people to chance to bend gender lines, start fires with numerous new methods, or connect deeply with nature through nothing but your body. There were so many I wish I could have attended to expand my toolkit as a human, and as a facilitator, it was such a shame there wasn’t more time.
It’s always great to be at a conference where you have the opportunity to learn so much from others in your field of work, but the most important moments, in my opinion, aren’t always the lectures or workshops. Rather, it’s the small moments stolen in between organised content where you strike up a conversation with someone over the coffee machine, or sit down next to a stranger at lunch and share your stories. These are the best moments, where you get a chance to learn about another person’s life, another person’s methods and reasons for doing what they do. These moments allow for you to make connections that can lead towards building something in the future. It’s these “un-conference” moments that are equally as valuable as the conference itself. Don’t take these small opportunities for granted.
The last thing I’d like to say about this experience in Germany was that it was interesting to be in a room where there was so much interest in the fact that we were the “International attendees.” People were so curious about our experiences and what we did in the countries we lived and worked in. It made me realise how much I take for granted and how lucky I am to work with such an international team of people who represent such diverse knowledge and skill sets. We are constantly presented with opportunities to learn new things from our international community and that is something I will always cherish. If everyone is an expert in their own experiences, then JUMP! is lucky to have experts from all over the world.