Marwa & the Fellas week in Petershagen

Marwa & the Fellas week in Petershagen

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Towards the upper most region of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, we decided to travel all the way from Bonn to approximately 10 kilometres northeast of Minden and precisely to the little town of Petershagen on the banks of the River Weser.

The trip from Bonn to Petershagen lasted for around 6 hours, the journey started with an hour train ride from Bonn to Cologne where we changed trains and again travelled further for another 4 hours up to Minden, all free of charge using our student semester ID/ticket 😀 and this when you will realise how far your student ID can take you and how big is the state we live in.

We reached our final destination in Petershagen using a chartered bus from Minden central station in a trip that lasted ca.30 minutes.

All packed & ready to go
Extra Comfort
Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right direction 🙂
Some beautiful views along the way
Finally in Petershagen
Our home for the week we spent in Petershagen
and beautiful natural surroundings
A renovated old palace

So, the reason behind our trip to Petershagen was to take part in ZEF’s annual seminar on Leadership skills and empowering change agents with coach Dr Holgar Nauheimer of Orangecpm. This seminar is the concluding (at least for me) among a series of seminars on topics related to intercultural competence, research ethics and organizational leadership that ZEF organizes for its doctoral candidates as part of their training in International Development.

Leadership Skills Seminar
Course timings
Our recap groups
Our seminar agenda
What is leadership?
Changes in leadership
Our wonderful coach
The group
The seminar manual
Using metaphors in describing our leader peers
What does it take to be a good leader?
During one of our seminar sessions

I have been to many seminars until now; however, this one -in particular- was very enriching to me, in not only an academic but also rather a very personal way. The principles of the seminar were based on self-direction and learning through experience and reflection. Our coach encouraged us to engage in the seminar with an open mind, heart and body aiming to create experiences, self-reflections, dialogues and to change perspectives. The seminar contained many activities that urged the participants to leave their comfort zones and to engage in a multi-perceptivity mode instead of arguing in an either– or mode. We also were encouraged to bring in our expertise and share the responsibility of running this course. The seminar also helped as link real life, work practices by bringing our own situations to the classroom, and finally yet importantly, peer-to-peer playing was the essence of this seminar. It is important to focus on team playing and peer-to-peer roles because and for the past few years I had limited peer interactions and that is often the case with most PhD scholars who are usually in charge of an independent project that they run on their own.

Principles of our course
Leave your comfort zone

As part of the emotional intelligence training, we were given the chance to reflect on our current situation, how we landed here and where do we think it might lead us to by sculpting our own Lego models, explaining them to our peers and then shifting roles. By discussing your own sculpture and describing it to your peers, you develop more awareness of yourself and by listening to your peers talk about their own sculptures; you develop more awareness of the other. This later led on to a very interesting discussion on emotional intelligence and everything surrounding our own self-awareness as well as our ability to recognize others emotions. According to our coach, being emotional isn’t a bad thing, in fact its good when you are able to recognize and contain your emotions by channeling them into the right direction. A huge part of an individual’s emotional intelligence lies in his empathy meaning his ability to recognize other people’s emotions and reactions.

There is not much room to write about everything we discussed and experienced or otherwise I would be typing in until tomorrow and you would be reading until day after tomorrow. However, briefly, I returned home with a lot to reflect on, what makes a good leader? Productivity, efficiency, empathy? Inclusiveness? Can we even divide leadership into good and bad? Where do ethics stand from leadership?Are we born leaders? or is it something we can learn and acquire in a day, a month, a year or a lifetime? What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

Lego modelling
My own sculpture, Marwa together with her farm animals 🙂
Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
What is an organization?
Organizational Culture
The Johari Window
The three inner voices

We even found sometime to explore downtown Petershagen and we came across many old buildings as well as some beautiful sculptures scattered along the main street. I personally find it always amusing whenever we are given the chance to visit a museum or a historical site and in Petershagen, we found a very old Jewish synagogue that was built in the 1800s to cater for a Jewish minority that settled in this town in the 1500s.

Regardless of our very tight schedule, we had time to enjoy the natural and beautiful surrounding scenery, even when it rained; I still went for an evening stroll. We played football and had our own BBQ dinner and many cakes. As part of our seminar workshop, we were offered two movie nights, the movie I attended is The Legend of Beggar Vance, a journey within towards finding a balance between expectations vs. realities, triumphs vs defeats. Coming from a person who goes very hard on herself when she fails at something, this movie is a must-see.

By the end of the seminar, we were all very happy yet so drained and it kept on raining. As soon as I arrived in my hood, I realised how much I missed my own bed 🙂

Last but not least:

Dear Coach Holgar, thank you very much for the great seminar and for sharing all of your expertise with us.

Maike Retat-Amin our chaperon and organizer for your extreme devotion and all the positive energy you brought in.

Bibi my roommate during the trip, thank you for the wonderful bedtime talks. Anis for the informing and enlightening long train chats.

And to the DAAD for funding our participation in this seminar.

Our Bundesliga
Must be the eye of the tiger?!
Petershagen Nostalgic Sunsets
Our BBQ Dinner
A networking chance outside the seminar room
Who would mind some Kasekuchen?
Movie night
Movie night
Downtown Petershagen
Downtown Petershagen
Downtown Petershagen
Downtown Petershagen
Downtown Petershagen
The Jewish Synagogue
Inside the Jewish Synagogue
Inside the Jewish Synagogue
Did I tell you how much I love it when it rains?
Poor Anis 🙂
Back in the hood 😀 oh how I missed my bed!

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