Wednesday, the Wi’am staff joined with Sarah from Cambridge, England, for a very creative morning. The workshop began with an artistic exercise. Staff and volunteers each drew a tree on a sheet of paper using crayons, pens, and colored pencils. Each part of their tree represented a part of their experience; the roots were our principles, the trunks were our abilities, the branches were our aspirations, the leaves were our influential people, the fruits were the blessings those people bring, and the flowers were the gifts we offer in return. The trees became a starting platform for discussion about growing as people and how we become a ‘forest’ of people together.
The final component of the tree activity was for staff to use post-it-notes to make constructive comments on each other’s trees. After this, the group went back to their seats and Sarah facilitated a brain-storming session. We discussed the challenges that arise from our lives and how those are encountered and managed, individually and collectively. As the discussion continued, staff become increasingly vocal as they shared about their context and personal experiences.
The session was extremely enriching, even though the exercise itself was hard to explain in hindsight. Conversations continued long after the activities concluded. At times, it requires an artistic exercise to bring together themes that are difficult to tie together with just language. Making a tree helped everyone to map their experiences without necessarily having to explain them eloquently. It revealed relationships between phenomena in our lives and allowed our minds to focus on sharing our experiences.
Wi’am is thankful for its friends around the world who help bring forth the very best from its staff and to the staff for their openness to new ideas.