I was excited to attend the Caux conferences for the first time. The excitement escalated as I was riding a train up to Caux from Montreux on a very old railroad. The view of the Alps and Lake Geneva was breathtaking. I couldn’t put my camera down for a second. The conference centre was yet another stunningly beautiful sight with a magnificent view of the mountains, the lake and the towns below it. It was all spectacular! I kept clicking away with my camera, not knowing that soon, the most amazing experience that can only be captured with the heart and mind was just about to begin.
I’ve been to many places and conferences around the globe but my Caux experience this summer was unique, not only because of the calming serenity of the place but for many other reasons as well.
I met so many wonderful people, and my conversations with them had an unusual and different quality. We all came from different places, cultures, religions, races, ages and backgrounds, yet there was a visible oneness that overrode all the divides. Maybe it was the shared commitment to make the world a better place, maybe it was the like-heartedness of the people, maybe it was a combination of these, maybe it was other reasons, but there was a definite sense of unity in the diversity.
Conference participants take turns to serve and be served. Cooking in the kitchen, serving food at meal tables, washing dishes and even housekeeping – most of this work is done by volunteers. The sense of community is unlike any I’ve seen.
I attended the Global Assembly and the Global Communications Group Meeting representing IofC Canada. Both went well, each teaching me new things about IofC that I didn’t know before. I’ve been involved with IofC for two years now. I’ve been reading, and learning by asking - but sometimes, you just have to be there to understand it. The spirit at this place cannot be described or captured with a camera.
I learned the history of Caux Palace on a special tour of the site and from conversations I had with some elders. Even though the present and the future are the main focus, I also learned that the past is equally important for IofC.
I feel honored to have been able to represent the IofC Canada Board and Communications Committee. I plan to return and I will cherish my Caux experience and nurture my connection with the people I met there. This trip has been the highlight of my involvement with IofC.
Samrawit Arayamedhin Mersha, Ottawa
IofC Canada Board Member and Communications Committee Chair