1 Peter 4:8-10
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
Just over two weeks ago we hosted our third IseeU Connect Event. This blog tells the story of a beautiful morning spent connecting with our friends and partners. A while back we blogged about “The Power of Connectedness” and our annual Connect Event is the practical outflow of this foundational IseeU value.
The 18th of August was a bright sunny day and the venue, generously donated by The Vineyard Hotel, looked stunning. This year we decided against the traditional conference style floor plan. Instead we opted for a more intimate lounge set up to compliment the theme of “Connecting through Story-telling”. Renea and her team exquisitely interpreted our vision for the morning.They created a warm and welcoming space, which set the scene for a morning of rich interaction.
Our on-the-couch guest and keynote speaker, Lusanda Mashua graciously shared aspects of her story. Her enthusiasm was infectious; her expressiveness captivating. With candidness and clarity Lusanda communicated the importance of knowing and sharing your story; having a purpose bigger than yourself; and connecting with your community. The message was clear – your story is a powerful tool in building bridges across divided communities.
The rest of the morning was skilfully facilitated by our partners from Outliers.We attended Outliers’ storytelling workshop last year and our mentors were trained by Laura earlier this year. Having experienced the effectiveness of this particular tool – especially in establishing trust between mentors and mentees, we were eager to share it with our friends and partners. The morning was marked by thoughtful reflection, meaningful conversation and enthusiastic participation; which according to our facilitator are the necessary ingredients for a successful workshop of this nature.
Feedback from our guests confirmed the need for mornings like these, where we gather people from diverse backgrounds to engage with each other around a common goal or interest, and in this way encourage connections across community divides. This is the heartbeat of IseeU – to connect communities and build bridges.
A common feature of guests’ comments as we engaged with them during and after our morning together, was their appreciation of a designated space for self-reflection, meaningful engagement with others, and mutual growth through exposure to others’ stories. We are so excited to see our mentees, friends and partners being inspired by each other. Especially since our passion is to encourage a culture of connectedness.
Our mentees did us proud as they took on the challenge of putting into practice their communication skills they have learnt in their weekly sessions. For some, this was their first ever event of this nature and they understandably were quite nervous. But without fail, they conducted themselves delightfully and many of our guests commented on their confidence and levels of engagement. Here is one guest’s feedback that warmed our hearts in the office:
“I am amazed at how they speak with such self-awareness about who they are, where they have come from and what is important to them. These are lessons and reflections that I only became aware of much later in life. I marvel at how these young ladies are consciously riding this journey of lessons and are curious to ask such relevant questions, right now in this stage of their lives, through the exemplary efforts of your work.”
The truth is that we could not do our work without the help of our partners, many of whom attended our Connect Event. We believe that the collective effort of a community of engaged individuals, each operating in their unique purpose, will result in the transformation of the marginalised communities we work in. Something we all so deeply desire.
We salute our partners and friends for the work they do. We salute our mentees for the work they are doing. We Work. Together. Towards Transformation.
Outliers is an NPO that supports organisations working in the education sector. Outliers’ mission is to increase access to free, quality education through after-school programs by helping start new after-school programs and supporting ones that already exist. Visit their website at outliers.org.za