DAY 76: The Ripple Effect
By Catherine Enane, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 20 October 2017
The Day of Learning (hereafter D.o.L.) is part of ‘Age of Wonderland’s 100 Days of Learning’; a global event that focuses on building a network of artists from a hundred different locations around the globe so that people can speak about what matters to them as citizens of the world and share how they feel on relevant matters and exchange energy. These artists can create a positive change, teach and learn from each other. As a starting point, we observe behaviour, offer feedback, allow interaction, share knowledge and exchange valuable experiences that are essential to us and could have the same effect on others through social interaction and learning. One such possible interaction is the Ripple Effect workshop as explained below; a moment in which fellow human beings are challenged to experience their neighbours and to see how important the presence of the other is. Learning through vulnerability.
The D.o.L. in Eindhoven was titled “The Ripple Effect” and my main afterthought is: What was the wisdom of the day?: Being an individual or in a group affects decision making. The wisdom of success in life and creation of greater relationships lies in the connection one creates, actions and the words used.
Conflicts are often a result of not sharing relevant information, prejudices, assumptions, unspoken expectations and lack of basic knowledge. Our lifepaths, educational backgrounds, ethnic groups and social status might not meet or match, but we have life time experiences that we all relate to as human beings.
Nine participants signed up, in addition we had Astrid, a systematic consultant to observe the exercise. She contributed to the link below:
https://truenorth.email-provider.nl/web/owbhvj2yxe/qua9uhcivk (webpage in Dutch)
The Ripple Effects’ key task was to explore the participants’ behavior based on seating arrangements; the chairs were arranged in groups of threes, twos and ones. It was observed that participants had the privilege of interacting with each other based on both their comfort and discomfort.
Participants were asked to share their perceptions on why they think the other participants chose to sit where they had sat. Their feedback ranged from personality types, familiarity with each other.
The Participants were asked to come up with a list of three things that were unique to them within thirty seconds; both at the individual level (ones) and group levels (the twos, threes). They were then asked to share them with the whole group.
Based on this exchange, the D.o.L. teacher then gave the whole group the freedom to change their seats and move to another group, to leave or join a group. Apart from two participants, the rest chose to remain in their initial position. There was a debrief around that choice of behaviour as well; comfort was cited as the main reason why the majority chose to remain in their initial seats and positivity, energy, connection and inspiration from what made others gravitate to each other was motivation for moving. Participants clarified that change was hard and uncomfortable, and therefore it was easier to stick with the known. The two participants who moved cited the perceived benefits to pitch themselves to new desired groups and explained to their group members why they were chose to move having their personalities as the key consideration.
It was from the two group interactions above, and the introductory remarks that different prejudices that were held within the learning setting were unleashed. There was prejudice around first impressions. The DoL teacher then introduced ‘prejudice’ as the theme of discussion, shared her own personal experience and then invited the participants to share their experiences of the same sort; as the victim or the perpetrator of prejudice.
Post-case Study: Astrid stated how for a long time she lived in fear based on the idea put in her head that the place she lived was unsafe. “For many evenings I would pass by the park and every time I saw two people in front of me I would be afraid of what they could do to me until, one day I said hello and realized they also felt the same about me.”
Another participant felt scared from being singled out from a minority group, an act she was not proud of however lived with so as to benefit from the privileges it came with.
“It’s painful when people individualise you out of a group that roots your identity.”
The discussion was engaging. As the participants shared their experiences and persecutions on prejudice, there was a general rise in awareness and sensitivity as participants realised the extent to which their perception of others was distorted. There was a sense of agreement with the impact and effect it has had on human behaviour, therefore deforming our intuition, honesty to one self and others around us. Too much knowledge has not freed us but fixed us in a container of fear and uncertainty leaving us to be prisoners of our own minds.
Chairs, pens, paper and a lot of conscious spirit.
In conclusion of the day the following quote could be applied to the goal of the session: ‘Understanding our environment further than only seeing it as the vegetation around us but also as the human energetic connections, the impact they have and how best we can cultivate them into productive worthwhile experiences.’
“If we all learnt from and shared our life experiences, then we would be our own self healers” — Catherine Enane.
Introductory talk at the Peoples’ Pavilion before the session (centre: D.o.L. — The Ripple Effect teacher Catherine Enane).
The group of participants after the session.
Day of Learning teacher: Catherine Enane
Day of Learning planning and execution: Catherine Enane
Observation: Astrid van Noort
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
When people are informed they do the right thing. It is when they are not informed that they become hostages to prejudice.