Dr. Ruth Weyermann and Dr. Josef Helbling facilitate training in Palestine

Deep Democracy Institute in Palestine  

A note from our colleagues Drs. Ruth Weyermann and Josef Helbling, published in a newsletter of the Research Institute for Process Work, Switzerland

The Deep Democracy Institute (DDI) was founded in 2006 by Process Workers Drs. Max and Ellen Schupbach, together with Dr. Stanford Siver, as a think tank and educational institute to research and teach Deep Democracy worldwide. Its special focus is on leadership, organizational change, and professional development, and their relationship to individual and personal growth.  

In this article, we (Drs. Ruth Weyermann and Josef Helbling), share a brief description of the seminar we facilitated in March 2011 in Jenin, as part of the DDI “Process-Oriented Leadership, Facilitation and Coaching Program, Palestine”.

Our seminar, following a sequence of over 20 DDI seminars in Palestine over the last 5 years (as part of the DDI 3 Year Leadership Certification Course) in collaboration with the Arab American University-Jenin, had over 60 attendees, men and women in about equal numbers. Participants came not only from the town of Jenin itself, but from the surrounding areas of Nablus, Ramallah and various villages in the West Bank.

The seminar theme, “Inner Empowerment”, is particularly close to our hearts, as we both share a deep interest in working on the interface between inner work and worldwork.  In accordance with the topic, we opened the seminar by working with participants on their inner resources for coping with everyday life, researching and facilitating those unique for everyday life in the West Bank.

In the subsequent two days we also explored the interaction between subjective experiences of inner life, social and political group life, and community life.  We discovered this information and made it tangible by "recycling" group gossip! Many participants were surprised at the rich potential of seemingly meaningless remarks that we all make here and there in private, but would never think to bring out in a larger group. For us, of course, as visiting outsiders and teachers, it was a very interesting and rare privilege to have the opportunity to share such intimate local confidences!

As in most seminars focusing on Worldwork, another important element was group process. The training group, as an ad-hoc community, chooses which themes, tensions and polarizations to focus on and dedicate group time and attention to. Our group brought up such themes as “The Facebook Revolution in Egypt”, as well as “How to Keep a Positive Attitude Towards Life”, and “Self-confidence vs Arrogance”. The burning theme that attracted most attention, and that we therefore processed with intense interaction between polarized roles and powerful emotion, was “Equal Employment Opportunities for Men and Women”.
       
The strikingly beautiful and typically barren land had been blessed in the weeks before our visit with unusually heavy rains, and was covered in bright green, providing a bold visual contrast to the steel blue sky and ubiquitous red poppies. The image of families that we passed on our return each day from the seminar to our accommodation, picnicking in fields, sitting on blankets under gnarled old olive trees, left a lasting impression: a palpable illustration of the importance of family and a deep connection to the land, which was often mentioned in the seminar.

We are grateful for the opportunity to share briefly here impressions of our work in this fascinating region and to bring attention to what we consider the important work of the Deep Democracy Institute in various hotspots of the world.

Drs. Ruth Weyermann and Josef Helbling

Monday, 23. May 2011

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