‘SAYING GOODBYE’, BY CAROLINA SURANSKY

August 14, 2015 

The 12th annual summer school on Pluralism, Development and Social Change ended on Thursday the 13th of August 2015. On Friday the 14th most of us left. The summer school gives not only the participants much appreciated inspiration in their jobs as academics and/or activists, but also the staff. Every year, it is such a joy to spend approximately 3 weeks together and discuss all kinds of contemporary issues as well as developments in our working – and personal lives. 

I believe that the friendship among the staff is an important component for the success of the summer school. Each staff member has his/her own strengths and weaknesses, we relate to the objectives and topics of the summer school and to its participants in our own ways, we support and question each other. It is something which I have come to cherish deeply.

There is something very special about sharing knowledge in a learning environment in which personal relationships become central. As international summer school coordinator, I am time and time again convinced that learning in an affective environment goes so much deeper than in learning environments which are primarily instrumental for individuals to accumulate knowledge. People generally do not change only because of what they know, but because of what they feel. The summer school pedagogy is strongly based on the idea that knowing and feeling/experiencing can reinforce each other and help to make a difference. Every year there are participants who declare that the experience of summer school has profoundly challenged and changed them, put them on a new path, professionally and in their personal lives.

Saying goodbye was not so easy for some. But I know that many of you will stay in touch, through Facebook and other means of communication. The staff sincerely hopes that you will continue to communicate with each other, share your professional challenges in the realms of pluralism, development and social change and  keep learning from each other and be open to different points of view, traditions, political beliefs and personalities.

All summer school participants are required to design and carry out a workshop on one of the themes of the summer school in their own work- or study environment or in their community. They have started to plan their workshops during summer school. This way, we want to create a ripple effect and encourage participants to share what they have learned with others.

A special thank you goes to the staff of Pusad-Paramadina (Jakarta) and the Centre for Religious and Cross Cultural Studies of Gadjah Mada University (Yogyakarta), who did an amazing job in terms of managing the day to day challenges of summer school. There is so much visible and invisible work that needs to be done to make the summer school a success. Being in Puncak was such a pleasure, thanks to all your efforts, thank you! Thank you to all who were part of the 2015 summer school!

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Carolina Suransky, international coordinator