By Hieu-Tri Nguyen (participant of team 10)
Good morning, everyone! This is Hieu, and I am a member of Knowmads Hanoi Team 10. I hope your Monday is starting as good as mine. I'm sitting in my room with a cup of honey Chamomile tea, brilliant warm sunshine, and Michael Bublé stripped playing in the background!
Three months ago, I was very fortunate to relish four weekends at The Learning Hub with Knowmads friends. And today, I feel blissful to walk down the memory lane and share some moments and stories of impact with you all (in no chronological order). I am a firm believer of the pay-it-forward initiative, therefore read on if you are game!
Disclaimer: Organizing Team, if you are reading this, don’t be surprised that you are
associated with a nickname. ;)
1. Something beautiful, done a bit differently, in an unexpected way.
I can just say it does not take long before the joy of living simply arrives. Guess what, it all began with a smile. Before the program officially started, the organizing team hosted a Welcome Party for us. Team 10 participants were warmly welcomed by, honestly
confessing, the longest clap ever (maybe an almost 5-minute one). It feels surreal when people are cheering for you for that long! On the night, I was a bit overwhelmed for seeing so many new faces at once. I had this moment when I sat on a sofa and unintentionally looked at a group of people who were chitchatting in front of me. Ellie (the smiley bunny) suddenly turned around, saw my face, and smiled at me. It inspires me and reminds me of the power we each hold within us to create something magical. At least, Ellie showed me there is one simple way to deal with awkwardness in crowded places – smile as it is free and can light up a person’s day.
2. It’s the community.
At Knowmads, we have so routines, rituals, principles, and cultures. Actually, in whatever way I name it, it all leads to the value of community. Everything we do here, we are invited to speak with intention and listen with attention. And from that, we learn to care for others with a touch of mindfulness. We always start and end the day with at least one reflective question or something creatively new. On our first day, Johanne (the red-faced girl who ponders) spent a while to introduce us to the circle practice. It is like a hub of the wheel led by a talking piece that brings us together with a shared question/purpose. The talking piece ensures everyone is heard. In the circle, there is a harvester who captures all the learnings; and a guardian with a bell who keeps us on the right track. Johanne warmed the day up with a poem of Shel Silverstein called 'The Voice'.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
"I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong".
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What's right for you - just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
From that moment, I realized that while I was in the circle, I felt safe, connected, and energized with many sharings from others. At Knowmads, we talk about an approach to daily conversations, which is non-violent communication. And somehow, we unconsciously practiced this method from our first day. At any moments during the day, we had this quick session called Village News. It is simply your space to keep everyone on the ball – an open space for you to share anything cool or just a simple reminder to go for lunch at 12:30 and get back at 1:30. In the afternoon, we started this session called World Café. I am not going to spill the beans with this one (just have to leave something and encourage you to experience it with your own eyes, ears, and heart, right?). But if there are two words to talk about it, they are cross collaboration and collective intelligence. We then ceased the day with this really cool thingy named Personal Practice. If you want to host any activity that you feel is greatly beneficial to your personal life, the stage is yours to share with others. I did get the opportunity to try three personal practices, namely check-in, space and beauty, and harvester.
For all of this, I truly feel the sense of community during my time with Knowmads.
3. There are questions for everything.
People say there is a solution to everything. But here at Knowmads, it is the questions that count - another culture of Knowmads that makes me feel grateful. We had a session on Personal Values. Understanding your values, and your priorities, will help you understand what you are not willing to sacrifice and what brings you the most fulfilment and ease. The facilitator for this session is Hoàng (the “richest” Hanoian you will ever
meet). He gave us questions that helped us figure out our values.
“Do I feel energized/pressure when I think about it?”
“Is it only important to me? Or do I also do it for others” ...are some of them. If you want to practice critical thinking or to be challenged, come to Knowmads and get ready to receive a bunch of questions. That is just the way we roll.
4. Paperclip Challenge.
I just have to jump straight on this one – it’s one of the coolest things I have done to learn about leadership. From a paperclip, our team got a pen, a comb and a q-tip, an ancient Japanese coin, an oil paiting, and a nicely-framed artwork of Hanoi. I will keep this short because really, no words can suffice to describe this challenge, you just have to experience it for yourself.
5. Sensing Walk.
Once you disconnect from the stuffs that surround you, you start to see how unnecessary most of it was. It was just crowding your space and forcing you to spend so much energy managing it. Each day I find myself searching for ways to simplify even more. Have you ever walked with a purpose? Well again, thanks to Knowmads, I got to experience another cool thing. “Where can I contribute change?” We got this question before the walk. With this question, I embarked on a 20-minute journey of self-discovery. Of course, as a foodie, I bought a burger and an ice cream to enjoy along the way. If you are curious about my sensing-walk story of Fanny Ice Cream, Tràng Tiền Plaza, and a blind street artist. Don’t hesitate to apply for Team 11 now! Come and we will talk it out.
6. My Life Journey.
We all have that one friend, who is not only an amazing person but has a crazily cool passion; whose goals never fit into mainstream boxes, and whose interests are ferociously abnormal. They adore what they do but maybe, they need a boost - a tiny bit of confidence aka a nudge - to pursue their dreams. Do you have that one friend? If not, you might find one at Knowmads. For me, I am thankful to have Johanne and Tuyến to
listen to the story of my life. We sat down in a circle, each person took turn to be a story- teller, a harvester, and a witness. It was just a moment where everyone’s inner artist arose and it was fun gazing at other people’ masterpieces.
7. We learned about Design Thinking. We called for a project. And we
enthusiastically gave constructive feedback.
Design Thinking is one of many cool things that I learned in the program. Simply put, it is a way to do things and a no-one-solution, problem-solving approach. Eight of us stood up and called for a project to better our society. Together, we turned our burning ideas into reality. I came up with a No Trace Tourism initiative and was lucky enough to receive amazing feedback from other groups. That is when I realize you may not start the next national holiday, but you can bring to the table your generosity, kindness, vision and most importantly, your heart to create a better future. Once again, it is a community after all. If you are keen, see our outcomes here. And thanks Linh (the tattooed yet fun-looking guy) who bought us lots of fun while we discovered about collaboration in the process.
8. Oscar’s note.
Lord, Oscar (the cool mate) already returned to The Netherlands but his impacts stay. This guy has a super wicked shirt collection and an effortlessly natural way when hosting a session. FYI, he took charge of the paper clip challenge (thanks, Oscar!). And for me personally, he gave me this note that sparked my way of thinking: “As a former cook, I love to see the way you approach the world to be of service. Love, Oscar”. When I called for a project, I first thought about hospitality education. But somehow, I went with a project that aims to raise awareness about the connection between nature and responsible traveling. But then, the universe figures out its way. Oscar handed me a huge challenge and yet the finish line is definitely not in sight.
Just a side note for this one. Lots of people came to Knowmads quitting their jobs and left starting a brand new exciting journey. And with Oscar’s note, I am just one of them - cannot wait to see what 2019 has in store
8+1. The space / the location
We have got some of the learnings. Now, let’s balance it out with a fun moment of reminiscence. If you have read until now, do you remember that I prepped myself with a burger and an ice cream for the sensing walk? Wondering why? It is because The Learning Hub is literally located at the most ideal place ever – easy access to so many eateries haha. Come and find yourself another home of trees, colors, and amazing foodies
I think everyone has a soul ‘home’. Some were born there, and others, for whatever reasons, had to go on a journey to find it. If you are open to it, use it from a position of power and intent to evolve any aspect of your life (or all of it), and willing to make the sacrifices for it, you will find it and you will just know when you do. It is the perfect vibe for learning, growing, and dreaming. I am feeling so inspired and ready to take on the world. Thank you, Knowmads Hanoi and The Learning Hub!
And thanks to you, my readers! Have a wonderful week and I look forward to meeting
you in the flesh - Team 11 is calling your name.
Love & Rock ‘n’ Roll,