In modern China, the dominant stories are of individual achievement and the pursuit of material and economic success. Against this backdrop, some Chinese young people are asking if there is another way, if there could be a different story of collaboration and sustainability. A group of these young people have been asking for new ways of working together, asking whether it would be possible to host an Art of Hosting training in China.
The Chaordic Stepping Stones which is providing a framework for thinking about what wants to emerge begins with discerning need. Is there a perceived need for more collaboration and for training to support this way of working? The Core Group chose to examine this question by hosting a collective harvest of stories of collaboration and positive change.
With only about 3 weeks of preparation, the Collective Story Harvest was hosted on Saturday afternoon. Six stories ranging from organization of an arts and culture event to an environmental student organization to rural environmental protection were shared with nearly 40 participants. The event began with a welcome from Xiaojing Fei, the Caller of the event. This was followed by a nonverbal experience of collaboration through “the ropes game”. The Collective Story Harvest process was then described by the Hosting Team of Xiaojing, Narayan Silva and myself. Each of the six conversations were hosted by aspiring young hosts with lots of enthusiasm and a few hours of basic training in hosting conversations. Three of the stories were told in English and three were in Chinese.
Participants listened to the stories through seven arcs:
– pivotal moments,
– overcoming barriers,
– common ground, and
Following the stories and the sharing of perceptions and insights, the group self organized (including caring for members who did not speak the same language) and explored the implications of the learnings from these stories for collaboration.
A rich harvest ensued with learnings that were shared back to the large group including:
– the importance of self awareness and emotional intelligence,
– need to work with rural community members,
– paying attention to relationships and communication,
– genuineness and passion, and
– a belief that there can be a “different way” of working.
The energy was positive and many people expressed their appreciation for a different kind of conversation and the hope that this would be the beginning of new collaborations. Given the conversations afterward and the networking taking place, there is every reason to think that many seeds of collaboration have been planted.
This event has also provided many lessons for the hosting team and the core team. The level of logistical challenges was not fully appreciated prior to this event and no one fully understood how much time and effort it takes to host in two languages when everything needs to be translated. Within this one very busy day, many people got to experience for the first time what hosting of conversations really means and what more can become possible from meaningful conversation.
Many seeds of collaboration, friendship and conversation have been planted in this fertile Chinese soil with the hope of abundant future harvests.