REAP Canada’s four international interns recently joined 13 other interns at the Falls Brook Centre in Knowlesville, northern New Brunswick for a 4-day intercultural effectiveness course and training on sustainable development and the environment.
The formal 3-day Center for Intercultural Learning (CIL) course focused largely on how subconscious cultural biases can have an effect on effectiveness overseas and on coping mechanisms for the cultural stresses that will inevitably occur.
The course facilitator, Kelly Eastlake, provided the guidance and atmosphere for valuable group participation – it was both impressive and useful to hear of the experiences and perspectives of fellow interns and to interact both inside and outside the conference room.
Aside from the challenge of trying to come to a consensus on the national identity of Canada (!), the most difficult task for REAP’s interns was undoubtedly having to sing a different song for each of the four emotional stages of an internship: honeymoon, cultural shock/despair,
recovery, and adjustment.
Needless to say no recording contracts were, nor ever will be, offered! The Falls Brook Centre (www.fallsbrookcentre.ca) is a community education and demonstration centre working with organic agriculture, appropriate technologies, community development and forest stewardship. Several of their buildings are “off the grid,” using solar and wind power for lighting and electrical needs. It provided an ideal setting for the training as one only needed to walk around to see many of the principles of an ecological system working for the community. The organic food provided by the Falls Brook chef was incredible and nearly worth the trip on its own. But the hospitality of the Falls Brook staff was also extended into the evenings with a bonfire, barn dance and movie night that really brought everyone together.
It was during the movie night that the REAP interns had the opportunity to show off the Mayon Turbo Stove, providing two batches of popcorn and a whole lot of hot chocolate before the wood stove could even warm up! The other appropriate technology interns, in particular, were impressed with the blue, smokeless flame and ease of use that this simple device provided. And none of the popcorn got burnt!
All in all, the pre-departure training at the Falls Brook Centre was a synergy of a beautiful location, unique facilities, experienced mentors and enthusiastic peers. Well worth repeating!