Last week I attended an unconference. Well. Not really. My husband was invited and me and my son tagged along. So far, apart from saying unconference, that’s really a common occurrence. If you are like me, we have been to our fair share of conferences, trainings, conventions, either as a primary attendee, a trainer or as a participant. So why is this worthy of a blog?
I was just going to soak on sun and sand as a treat to the upcoming chilly winter that is threatening to arrive. But right from the start things were different. Not only were things very well organized. Try having almost 400 tired travelers from ALL OVER THE WORLD arrive to their rooms and basically no long lines, no registrations, no tired speeches or never ended opening presentations.
I was given a name tag with my first name in bold CATALINA and only my last name, no organizations or titles. I was green (family) and the main attendees were blue. My 3 year old had his name tag. He counted, he was a person. Guess what was his favorite toy and source of pride during the week?
Everyone was pretty much dressed in a combination of swim suit, bermudas and flop flops and everyone, everyone was talking and connecting to each other. At the bus, I met a women coder from Ghana, an IT expert who literally crossed the world to attend this gathering. Once I perused through the directory I realized that those informally dressed individuals were investors, NGO leaders, seasoned journalists.
At the beach I made friends with amazing women who lead economic local projects with indigenous women in Mexico. Remember, I’m not even on the official roster of attendees and I am already developing great connections.
At the trapeze site of the resort (yes! trapeze) I talked with one of the leaders of the environmental movement in the world (no, Im not kidding). And no, by the time I mustered the courage to climb on the trapeze, they changed from beginners to advanced and I had no chance.
The power of deconstructing and encounter like this is that people have a chance to build connections based on who they are. People are not as protected by their egos and titles and ipads, people are just sitting by the pool and maybe this is where great ideas emerge. In almost all conferences, the best dialogue occurs at the coffee/tea break. From on outside eye, this conference seemed designed to be the most dynamic, productive yet relaxed coffee break ever.
I never felt that people with the green ID were less than. There were many parents (dads and mums) taking care of their children, and the assumption was that we all have value, we all have something to tell. I dont know about you, but I think this is so cool.
I hope to make it next year and I hope to be able to be a participant and continue fostering such rich and honest dialogue with well, people, not egos, or titles or mountains to climb, just plain people passionate to participate in social change. That’s what peace is all about.