Continuing the “Forum Culture”

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I have recently returned from the Aspiring Leaders Forum on faith and values in Wellington, New Zealand. ALF is a sister program to our National Student Leadership Forum in Canberra. It was such a fantastic time and really significant in my life. I feel like so many pennies really dropped in my heart and head whilst away and was such an amazing experience.

I think before I left for the Forum, I knew in theory what it was, but I did not at all expect it to be as remarkable. I think one of the most significant things that I learned was the significance of stories. The forum creates this amazing space for stories to be told, shared, heard and valued. It was amazing in our small group to watch someone tell their story for the first time and have seven other people sit there and be amazed by it. Such a remarkable way of loving someone as they see the value in themselves and their journey.

Another thing that I thought was amazing was the prevalence of love in all the stories shared by the speakers and people in my group. The majority of the most impacting times in people’s lives seemed to be all surrounding this idea of love – whether it be someone unconditionally loving them, believing in them, belonging, abandonment, rejection, acceptance, loss. It is all so closely linked to love. I’ve never been apart of something where love has been so freely talked about with those that do not necessarily have a faith. It was amazing. The Forum is a stage for parables of love to be told in quite a vulnerable way and deep truths to be illuminated. In my group, there was a Maori guy and every time we were talking about theoretical concepts in the small group, he would tell a parable of his ancestors to articulate a truth. It was interesting to see how these parables quite closely linked to the stories we were sharing of our own lives.

On return, I was so completely energised and buzzing to keep Foruming. I think that space of meeting people and having challenging conversations is such an energising thing. Like they said at Forum, “talking about the heart nourishes the soul”. On that Sunday after being back, I was wishing that the Forum would go on for a whole year. I realised that it isn’t a “Forum thing” but a culture thing, that can be implemented in all our relationships. Anyway, something just connected in me and I realised that I can have this “Forum” perspective when I meet anyone, anywhere. This idea of allowing someone to see the value in themselves through the telling of their story and asking questions of why is such a tangible way of loving someone. There has definitely been a shift in my thinking towards the people that I am not as close and connected with. I have met up with a few people since coming back just with that new perspective and it has been really encouraging. Title: Continuing the “Forum Culture”
Author: Past Delegate
Format: Blog Post
Published: 2012
Publisher: NSLF
Access: NSLF Online Library

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