CRC Appreciative Learning Training Programme in Athens: 4D Cycle by Aisha Khan

I recently went to Athens to participate in Appreciative learning training programme. I met some amazing people, who are involved in some incredible work. As a recent graduate, I feel like this training has helped me to gain clarity about what I would like to do in the future and has given me the confidence and skills to develop my own project.

The programme was based on the 4D Cycle (Discover, Dream, Design & Destiny) methodology of Appreciative Inquiry.  The first day was centred around Discovery, the first stage of the 4D cycle. After an introduction to the training programme and meeting fellow participants we were asked to split into pairs or three’s and discuss when we believe we had taken the lead and been most successful on a project. I was working with Triza and Devon, two remarkable individuals who both led people out of potential crisis. Triza selflessly taught members of her team at work a new system which helped them to avoid a potential council housing crisis and Devon empowered his community by organising and protesting the demolition of his estate and helped to create a space for local business thrive.

The second day was centre around the Dream stage of the cycle, in pairs we spoke about our ideal world and then a project that we would dream to lead. My partner was Tafia, we both had very big dreams, Tafia dreamed of an equal world and one with more female leaders. I dreamed of having a space that would include a community cafe, garden and performance space. These spaces would act as a social enterprise for Slough Refugee Support, the organisation I work for. They would be run by refugees, the food sold at our café would be food from different countries the refugees were from, the garden would be a space for them to grow food and the performance space would be a platform for people to showcase their talents. The space would be a hub for the community and we would offer difference language and skills classes as well as a range of social clubs.

On the third day we were introduced to the Design stage of the cycle, we looked at ways in which we could make our dreams a reality. This was the most difficult part of the process for me, as I felt very inexperienced. However, Tafia helped me overcome this anxiety, she supported me by sharing her experiences and sign posting me to funding bodies and organisations who could be of help to me. Suddenly my project became less daunting and more doable.

The final stage of the 4 D cycle is Destiny, I am currently working through this stage. When going through the design stage I decided that I would need to create smaller projects to get to my Dream. I decided to start developing a cookery project for refugees, the project would consist of a different person leading a class on a dish from their home cuisine. These sessions will also include training on catering skill, participants will get a city and guilds recognised qualification. I hope that this project will not only help refugees integrate but also gives them qualifications which can potentially help them when looking for a job.

I feel like I learnt a great deal not only from the training program but also from the participants, they were all so inspiring and supportive. Many offered me training and shadowing opportunities and others gave me advice about the field of work I want to get into. They have all made me feel more ready to begin a new chapter in my life and jump into the world of work, I am so grateful to them all for this and I would like to give them all a big thank you!

Roy Edgeworth