Where change can happen
Impressions from the Emergent Future conference at Asia Plateau, India - Part 119/04/2023
Have you ever travelled to a foreign country and realised that this has changed your life forever? In January 2023, Sebastian Hasse from Germany took part in Emergent Future: Rethinking our World Together (22 Jan - 1 Feb 2023) at the Indian IofC centre in Asia Plateau. His time there had a major impact on his understanding of Initiatives of Change.
Sebastian is the coordinator of the IofC Hub, a platform which offers activities and gatherings for the wider IofC team, and he also supports the IofC Switzerland team.
It took me two flights and a sleepless night to get from Paris to Mumbai. By the time I arrived, I was so tired that I slept through most of the six-hour drive to the IofC centre, Asia Plateau, located 250 km south of Mumbai. I was even too tired to worry about the Indian way of driving and the many bumps on the road.
But as soon as I arrived, all was forgotten. Asia Plateau is located in the hills, 1,300 meters above sea level and surrounded by beautiful, lush gardens. I was fascinated by this green oasis, with monkeys in the trees, and felt immediately welcomed by the people running the centre.
On 28 January, the conference Emergent Future: Rethinking our World Together started and from the very beginning until the end the organisers delivered an amazing event, full of energy and surprises that made people forget the struggles of their daily lives.
We had a packed programme filled with inspiring sessions on peacebuilding and educational work mixed with sharing groups and amazing music performances.
We also had the opportunity to meet with the Grampari team, a programme of IofC India, which has managed to build a successful model of sustainable long-term development through behavioural change, watershed management, livelihood programmes and other innovative projects. Their work has transformed the economic and environmental conditions of the villages surrounding Asia Plateau and the IofC practice of listening to your inner voice when taking decisions is at the very core of their mission. So far, Grampari has impacted 158 villages and 30,000 people. I was impressed to see the impact that IofC and its grassroot work have made on the people living close by.
Even though I had been involved in IofC for several years before my trip to India, my time in Asia Plateau was the first time that I took part in what I would call the ‘quintessential IofC experience’ where inner change can really happen. You can feel it in the discussions at lunch or dinner where participants are either so enthusiastic that they cannot stop talking or are so overwhelmed by what they have experienced or heard that they suddenly become very quiet. I felt very inspired, met amazing new people and discovered new emerging personal callings.
I think it was the first time I truly understood the essence of what IofC is about.
I realised that at the end of the day, it all boils down to slowing down and to listening to what your inner voice is trying to tell you about when, where, and how to act. This may sound very easy on paper, but it requires training, like everything in life. If you want to deeply listen to others or to yourself, you need to practice it every day.
At the end of the conference I stayed on at the IofC centre for the second part of my journey. I was organising a team-building retreat for the IofC Hub team, who had also taken part in the Emergent Future conference.
Although we had planned the Hub retreat before we arrived in India, we realised that we had to change our programme and adapt to the ways of Asia Plateau. We decided to allocate more time to inspirational sessions and story-sharing and it turned out to be the right decision. I feel honoured to have heard so many life stories and experiences from my fellow team members and to have learnt from them.
Although organising the event required a lot of effort and focus on the different tasks, I believe that not many networks can create the amazing atmosphere I experienced with IofC in Asia Plateau.
My trip to India and the IofC centre in Asia Plateau was the experience of a lifetime. I am truly fascinated by this amazing country, of which I have seen so little so far. But, I promise to return one day.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to slowing down and to listening to what your inner voice is trying to tell you.
Asia Plateau is the education centre for Initiatives of Change India. Since its inauguration, the centre has conducted more than 2,000 programmes on campus and offered a refuge for transformation and an incubator for inspired, collective and inclusive actions and personal and global change.
The conference Emergent Future: Rethinking our World Together reached out to social and thought leaders in an attempt to make sense of our ever-increasing complex world. It offered panel discussions and keynote speakers and provided space for questions, reflection and inspiration to seek direction for the future.
You would like to discover more impressions from the Emergent Future conference in Asia Plateau? Read Morenike Onajobi's inspiring story A sense of peace.