Thursday, September 10, 2015
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 Editor’s note: Every 3 to 4 years Initiatives of Change gathers for an Extended Global Assembly to build and renew friendships, and strengthen the network. The most recent one in July 2015 saw about 100 people from 35 countries gather in Caux, Switzerland. Delegates from Canada were Lorne Braun (Board  co-Chair,  Initiatives of Change Canada) and Tim Hall (Communications Assistant, Initiatives of Change Canada).

Caux, Switzerland-- "We will be weaving together a picture of the real world needs, and the ways we are addressing them."

With these opening remarks from Initiatives of Change International President, Dr. Omnia Marzouk, the 2015 Extended Global Assembly began. It was a time of reconnecting, relationship building and sharing in each others’ stories of building trust across the world’s divides.

A symbolic mural created by Camilla Nelson (member of the International Council) served as the stage backdrop. A tree growing solidly out of the core values of love, honesty, purity and selflessness welcomed birds from the five regions of the world. On the tree itself were pink blossoms representing Creators of Peace Circles, apples representing Farmers’ Dialogue and leaves representing Foundations for Freedom. Finally a nest of baby birds served as the Caux interns, while a wise owl represented the listening ears of the elders.

 

Over the course of the Assembly participants outlined the most urgent needs of the world and their underlying causes. In both the plenary session and in small groups members identified their own initiatives to create positive change – both current projects, and projects for the future.

Many of the initiatives centered on growing relationships and partnerships. In addition to time looking at external partnerships, members met in regional meetings.

Those representing the Middle East emerged with fresh ideas for newsletters and consultations. Meanwhile groups from the Asia-Pacific region celebrated their current programs for both youth, and for leaders in business or government.

In the Americas a strong desire was expressed to build partnerships between teams in South America and North America. The 2014 Encuentro of the Americas conference hosted in Colombia was recognized as the catalyst. With possibilities of further travel encounters floating around, members agreed to intentionally develop intercontinental relationships further.

By the end of the time together delegates left inspired, encouraged and ready to continue their grassroots initiatives.

Participants of the Extended Global Assembly listen during plenary sessions.

 

“I was challenged and touched by the way that our movement brings people together from various background and situations, but with a common bond,” said Lorne Braun, co-chair of Initiatives of Change Canada Board of Directors. "It was particularly moving to hear Iman Al Gafari speaking about her home; being both in Canada and in Syria and the support that people in Canada continue to provide for her as she experiences the daily horror of war.”

“I valued getting a chance to see and meet the breadth of the Initiatives of Change network, and the depth that each member carries.” said Tim Hall, a young representative with the Canadian delegation. “Future initiatives we take locally will benefit greatly from global relationships nurtured here in Caux.”

Author: Tim Hall, Surrey, BC

Photos: Yungfu Chang