Since this is my personal reflection, which is meant for me, MYSELF, I am going to write this as the way my thought processes.
I choose to write because it gives me more time to think. When I speak into a camera, I am a bit self-conscious, and I don’t like it when there’s a silence, which means I probably just keep talking and talking. I don’t want to do that with this, I need time to fully process and think it through.
Let’s start at the beginning. Since grade 9 or 10, I always knew that I am going to join IFP and I always knew I am going to love the conference itself. I remember I used to sneak into the Peace One Day conference held in Singapore when I was gr 9 or 10 and absolutely love its atmosphere. To be honest, I still half-heartedly think that the training we had at the beginning of the year is a bit waste of time, but it’s worth putting the effort to go to so that you can get into one of the conferences because trust me, the conference is BEAUTIFUL!
But in terms of skills, I think I learnt a lot. Although, I always knew that I am good at public speaking or controlling the crowd. I used to run mini-workshops (skills based: leadership, collaboration…) or various activities for orientation in the past. However, most of them are usually light-hearted, and I always aim it so that the audiences are having fun and at their highest energy. Through IFP, I learnt that there are of course different moods you can set in a conference, and it has as much of an impact if not more, to the audience. For example, a more down-time for reflection and a deeper, meaningful discussion (candle time…).
Most of the stuff I did before as I mentioned earlier is more light-hearted, hence this is my first “serious” conference I facilitated in. And I can see the differences and I’m learning a lot. We have a much clearer, more important goal that we want the delegates to get by the end of the conference.
Another interesting thing, maybe because of the confidence I have through past experiences, I thought that I can just wing the speeches sometimes. But during this trip, Sanjay asks us to create scripts, and it was planned to the smallest detail of it. I think our team shall thank him for that. Because after that, our team was working with the plans with more concrete checklists to check off like have we got a presentation, a script if we do then let’s run it through while timing it. (Although, my best speeches were unplanned 😉 )
However, what’s most important that I got out of this conference is that it got me thinking, reflecting A LOT. I cried because I realised that I miss this feeling so much. The pumping energy in me trying to make everyone feeling happy and comfortable, the me who gives the best to make everyone smile. And the happiness felt when all the delegates are happy, and all smiling. Because if they are happy, I am happy to the fullest.
In Singapore, there’s not much time I felt like this. But you can see the difference in me, during orientation, or when we go to our service partners, my energy runs through the roof, seeing them happy makes my day. But the feelings don’t last very long, as soon as we got back, everything is back to normal. I don’t know why before, but now that I think of it, maybe because people at our school, the students, the teachers, don’t need any of this, everyone still survives and thrive anyway without the energy in me.
I want to live in the IFP world, even though I and my friend used to talk that it’s a fake world. It’s too idealistic. It’s very sad, but it’s true to some extent. The past workshops I’ve done in the past was very beautiful, too, but as soon I am out of that world, I hit back to reality. Everyone goes on with their life just fine. We went back to our original lives worrying all about tests, colleges or family. To be honest, I’m afraid that IFP is going to be like this, too but seeing that we all still talking to each other on social media (like every day), I’m super glad. Now, I’m thinking of how we can bring the IFP world and share it with the outer world. And now I’m thinking of how I can make use of my own energy to benefit the world, how I can make everyone happy and hence myself happy to the fullest always.
IFP makes me think a lot. One of the delegates wrote me a letter saying that I have a potential to be a great community worker rather than a scientist and ask me to keep that in mind. And to be honest, it shocks me. I remember I used to tell people to do what makes you happy. And I’ve been thinking of what makes me happy, and I overlook the fact that helping people is what makes me happy the most. Now, I’m not too sure, I need to think more about my career path.
One of the many interesting conversations I had with the delegates. I think we somehow are defined of who we are by our pasts to some extent, especially matters like life and death. I remember talking to this delegate. I know him, at least the one at the conference, and that’s who he is, I think. Then, we got talking, and he told us that he has killed 2 people and he was also once shot, he fights a lot. I thought you know before that I would be so scared of anyone who has killed a person, A PERSON. But I realise my mind during that time was like, “Really? Oh my god. Tell me more.” And we got talking more and more. And I still see him as the way he is. I don’t know how to explain it, but during that time, we just listen to each other, advice each other, it really was a place without any judgements at all and if the world could just be like this.
During the passion speeches, I don’t know, I think in our real life, or maybe just me, I was always afraid to cry mostly about my own personal problems. Never shares it with anybody, because I always thought that everyone is just to busy to care. But again in here, when everyone has problems, instead of forcing that one person to man-up, be strong and face through it, and that it’s okay, and just pretend that it doesn’t happen; we encourage each other by being vulnerable altogether. People just want to be listened, and we did. And when you did so without any judgements, you can actually feel their pain. I say we embrace each other faults and passions. And only then, we all became one. It was very clear.
Before going to the conference itself, I was really afraid that what if they got out of the conference feeling that I shouldn’t have come here, what if they didn’t get anything out of it. And I have to say I WAS WRONG. But it’s also thanks to their open-mindedness as well. We, 17 years old, talking about violence, and they are a few years older, have done so much more to their community, have experienced real violence when we are only talking about the theory bits. But instead of judging us, they embrace us, they admire us, they open their mind and heart, getting as much as possible out of the conference itself.
Another, I thought I was on average a better listener than everybody else. The point is that when I listen to people, I look at them in the eye and listen. However, during this conference, at one point, during the candle group discussion, I was taken back when it’s my turn to speak, everyone leans in, their eyes focus on me, they just look so keen to listen. I was shocked, that the confidence when I look right into their eyes when they speak is gone. I just looked down at the candle and talked instead. It means a lot to me. These people are so real, so nice, so beautiful, they are going to do the world a big favour!
A few days ago, a delegate post on social media, “Best speech quote: Life without challenges is meaningless.”. I am soooooo glad that some of my words or my actions or ones from my mates, can have a slight, slight, slight inspiration and hope for some delegates. Because seriously in some cases, those slight hopes can save a person’s life.
The delegates said that we inspire them, but the truth is the delegates inspire me 100 times more than we inspire them. They know what they want and they do it. They have a burning torch of passion in them. They don’t care about where they are from, what they are capable of, literally, they are not afraid to make mistakes, they are truly brave people, they just do something to change what they want to see changes in.
Now, I want this IFP Maesot experiences to keep my life in check. I want to live with passion, with the energy to make others happy, without any judgements, to listen to problems and embracing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Because then, I can be happy, and peaceful within myself and hopefully it’ll have a domino knock-on effect by bringing peace to others too.
P.S: I MISS IFP and the DELEGATES!