| QAI - 4/89 - 1/90 - GATEs cooperation partner programme |
Retrospective by the Seminar Organizer
by Ulrich Schwarz.
GATE was planning a seminar for its cooperation partners. The participants were to include 21 partners from 21 countries, plus members of the GATE staff. The duration of the seminar was given as about 10 to 14 days. No definite topic was laid down, merely that it ought to be connected with "appropriate management". As regards time and place, the seminar was to be held in Autumn 1989 in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Early in 1989, armed with this information, I started planning a seminar which was to become the second meeting of all NGO partners of GATE. The first meeting of this kind took place in Berlin in September 1 985.
Initially, the main priorities were to fix the venue, invite the participants and prepare a programme for the seminar.
A suitable conference centre was soon found, in southern Germany. Compared to other conference centres the building in Bad Herrenalb, in the northern part of the Black Forest, has several advantages: it is set in magnificent landscape at the edge of a small town, yet only a few minutes' walk from the town centre. The quiet setting, the large number of conference rooms, and the very helpful and tolerant staff made an atmosphere possible which I have rarely experienced in other centres.
The invitation included a request to ail participants to prepare a poster illustrating and describing their organizations and to bring it along to the seminar as a "wall newspaper". In this way, all the partners invited to the seminar were able to introduce themselves in a different way. In addition, the wall newspapers made it possible to study the presentations individually and in detail.
In developing the programme I collaborated very closely with GATE and Burkhard Krupp, who acted as moderator of the seminar. In the planning team there were at first two conflicting opinions as to how the seminar should be designed. The one opinion was that the topics dealt with should be as concrete as possible, and well prepared. The other side wanted very little prestructuring of the contents, or none at all - as a means of allowing the participants more freedom to arrange things their own way. In the end the latter opinion was adopted, and it proved effective during the seminar. The participants were thus able to draw on their entire wealth of experience, as well as dealing with their individual concerns (see also the article by Burkhard Krupp, page 20.). It was decided that the central theme of the seminar would be " How to work with target groups " .
After another series of organizational details had been dealt with, the time finally came to welcome the first participant, from Papua New Guinea. He arrived in Frankfurt at 6.25 p.m. on 15 August. Many of the participants arrived in Frankfurt a few days before the seminar was due to start; the last just made it in -time for the welcoming dinner on the evening of the 17th.
For me, this period before the official start of the seminar was an ideal opportunity to get to know the individual participants.
Tolerance, motivation, willingness to cooperate
Even during the presentation of the posters brought along by the participants it became clear what remarkable and interesting personalities were gathered here, in terms of both tolerance and motivation.
And later on, as well, for the entire duration of the seminar, tolerance, motivation, willingness to cooperate and mutual trust were the driving forces that resulted in the seminar developing a completely unsuspected dynamic. Perhaps it can be described thus: the energy curve very quickly reached a climax, which was maintained up to the very last day of the seminar.
On the one hand a great deal of tireless work was done. (Some participants could sometimes even be found working in the seminar rooms at night, finalizing details.) On the other, the evenings were a popular time for singing, dancing and games. Surprisingly, however, all the participants were always full of energy the following morning, regardless of whether their night's rest had been long or short (some of them often had to manage on only 4 - 5 hours' sleep).
All in all, it may be said that not only were the topics covered; the partners also got to know each other much better. As regards building up an international network and increasing cooperation by promoting south-south dialogue this seminar was definitely a success.
Many of the participants then extended their stay in Europe and visited other development aid organizations and partners in the Federal Republic of Germany and other European countries.
This article describes the preparations for the seminar and how it subsequently turned out. Apart from the basic organization of the seminar the author also looks at other aspects, including, for example, how it was designed. The organizers decided that it should be only minimally prestructured, i.e., it should be "open". The group dynamics and the general atmosphere are also briefly described.
L'article procÃ¨de une Ã description des travaux prÃ©paratoires du sÃ©minaire ainsi que de leur dÃ©roulement. Outre celui relatif a l'organisation, bien d'autres aspects y vent abordes, ainsi - par exemple - celui de la conception du sÃ©minaire. La forme choisie a Ã©tÃ© celle du sÃ©minaire «ouvert», c'est-a-dire ne se conformant pas Ã un plan rigide etabli a l'avance. La dynamique de groupe ainsi que l'ambiance du sÃ©minaire vent Ã©galement briÃ¨vement Ã©voquÃ©es.
En el informe se describen los trabajos preparatorios del seminario y su desarrollo. Junto a la organizaciÃ³n se analizan tambiÃ©n otros aspectos, como, por ejemplo, el contenido del seminario. Se eligiÃ³ un contenido poco estructurado previamente, es decir, lo que puede llamarse un seminario abierto. Se expone brevemente tambiÃ©n la dinÃ¡mica de grupo y la atmÃ³sfera del seminario.