Last month I travelled to Bonn for ICASSI 2018, (learn a little more about ICASSI here.)
I got this opportunity after applying for one of a limited number of places on an Erasmus programme offered by my employers. I had been hoping, like a real live blogger, to post some updates while in Bonn but my internet connection didn’t live up to my expectations. I’m home almost a month and I’ve been unable to concentrate long enough to pen my thoughts because I’ve been paying and still am paying the price in CFS/FIBRO currency for the huge amount of energy I expended during the wonderful yet demanding week at ICASSI but I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, thanks to insights from Adlerian Psychology, one of which is having the courage to be imperfect I can accept that a post just over a month later is not perfect but is instead perfectly imperfect. It is good enough, I am good enough and I hope you find it good enough and if not, well that’s ok with me too!
I travelled alone to Bonn, and I didn’t know anybody there except one of the faculty, Karen. I found it a little intimidating heading into the registration area on the evening I arrived. Everybody appeared to know each other, there was an exciting buzz that was upbeat and friendly, yet I felt like an outsider.
As soon as I had my name badge on and a cup of tea in my hand I mingled about. I knew I just had to call upon my courage and do my best to connect with others.
I soon discovered that so many people, from all over the world, have either been to Ireland or are curious about Ireland. I sat down beside a young Asian lady, who was on her own. It turned out that it was her first time at ICASSI also. She came looking for me at tea break a day or two later, asking to take a selfie together and thanking me for talking to her that first evening as she had been feeling lonely and apprehensive in her new surroundings. Reaching out to encourage others takes courage too but it’s definitely worth the effort.
If you were energetic and wanted to partake in an exercise programme, then your day began at 7am. If not you could start your day at 9am, like me, with a Plenary session which was a one and a half hour presentation with power point delivered in English and translated into German or vice versa.
Tea break was from 10.30 until 11am and morning classes started promptly at 11am until 1pm. Lunch was available on site if you wished.
I usually walked back to my hotel to grab a quick siesta following my lunch. This helped recharge my battery for the afternoon classes which started promptly at 2pm until 4pm.
When afternoon class ended there was then the option to attend short presentations from 4.45 to 6pm at which time dinner was served. There was a vast canteen area and plenty of outdoor seating which was so welcoming in the warmth of the evenings and provided ample opportunities to talk to lots of interesting and like-minded people. Coping with the heat was challenging as it ranged from 31 degrees on Monday to 40 degrees celcius on Wednesday. Thankfully a thunder storm and lots of rain on Thursday saw temperatures drop back around the early 30’s which dare I say felt managable! Bear in mind 25 degrees is considered a scorcher of a summer’s day in Ireland and quite rare!
There was ample opportunity for socialising every evening and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday an evening programme of entertainment started at 7pm and included a German Night, a talent show and a closing ceremony. There was a lovely bar where we gathered to relax over a drink or two and there was always someone happy to sing or play a guitar!
There were many different courses to choose from and I decided to participate in two short courses, instead of one long programme. I chose Cooperative Problem Solving and Encouragement in Stressful Situations. These courses were delivered using an Adlerian approach which is based on respect and social interest. Working in small groups was a great way to get to know some of the participants better.
I’ve come away from my first ICASSI with so many beautiful memories which include lots of conversations, laughter, fun, cultural insights from participants from 35 countries, renewed awareness of the importance of community, lots of new friends and promises of e-mails, a fantastic approach to cooperative problem solving and strategies from BASIC PH to encourage myself and others through stressful situations. Looking back now it really was A New Book…a beautiful one!
Thank you for reading and sharing in this experience with me!
I’d love to hear your comments or answer any questions you have.