Monday, December 14, 2009

FOBV Retreat

Last week Greta and I had the opportunity to take a two-day retreat to Granada for some relaxation, planning, and reflection. We had an incredibly rich experience, getting away from the bustle and noise of Managua and finding a peaceful space to do some long-term thinking for FOBV. We talked about our role as accompaniment at the Center, discussed ways to strengthen our relationships with VMM, FOB, and the CCBN, reflected the challenges we’ve experienced in the first five months of our program, and planned for our spiritual life, the blog, and next year’s English class. In the midst of all that we made time for some sweet chocolate pancakes and walked around picturesque Granada, enjoying the colonial architecture and people-watching.

One of the most interesting conversations we had was about how we see our task of “accompaniment.” While a lot of different definitions may exist, we envision accompaniment as a role that involves asking key questions (especially “why?”), working on collaboration by connecting key project members, keeping the project moving, and encouraging a group to focus on their reality. I’m not sure what I thought accompaniment would look like when I first got here, but now I feel strongly about how important it is to keep our role sustainable by being “accompaniers” instead of “leaders” or “organizers.” If Greta and I left tomorrow, the projects we are involved in would continue just fine without us. While our role in them is important, the projects do not revolve around our ideas and actions; rather, we support and encourage the projects as they grow out of the initiatives of CCBN staff.

In terms of the blog, we discussed our goals and what kind of a voice we want it to have. We feel that as two volunteers living and working in a Nicaraguan context, we can share our personal experience on the blog as a way to give our friends and family in the U.S. insight into Nicaraguan life without presuming to represent the entire country and people. Our major goal is to cause our readers to think “Oh, I didn’t realize that...I wonder why that is?” So please, let us know if you react like this!

After all the reflection on our first five months at CCBN, we returned to Managua Wednesday afternoon feeling refreshed and excited about the next stage of our term here. We really are part of an exciting and dynamic program and are learning tons. In fact, one of our main problems is that time is flying too fast to enjoy it all!

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