Listen, no I mean really listen
Encouraging, brave, insightful, exciting… to name just a few comments that we heard on the 5th of November at the Junushoff Theater. The participants agreed: the speakers were amazing women and the journeys were colourful. The event was valued 8,4 (on 10 point scale): a great score if you think that this was the first time VWI Symposium was organised in this way.
So what did you miss if you were not there?
This actually started upon arrival: at the door everyone received a warm welcome and was asked their date of birth to establish their Chinese zodiac sign. Why? Well, that was for later. And while enjoying the tasty vegetarian lunch served by Food of Cultures, you had the chance to catch up with old friends or make new connections. Then you had the opportunity to learn about some women initiatives posted on the poster wall and meet with the WUR Gender team and receive the book “Inspiring Women at WUR”.
When it was time to start everyone was ushered into the theatre hall and welcomed by very warm and witty Guity Mohebbi. She was the guide for this afternoon and she managed to get everyone involved!
After an insight in Guity’s world we were introduced to the lecture of Prof. Noelle Aarts, entitled ‘The Art of Dialogue’ (first speaker, Ama Koranteng-Kumi unfortunately had to cancel due to illness). Noelle explained that while we tend to talk a lot and with easiness, genuinely listening often remains a challenge. According to her research, we ‘download’ a lot: this means that we only hear things we already know, confirming our opinions and believes. However, in order to be more efficient, to make new connections and to broaden our horizon, we require the different listening styles ‘empathic listening’ and ‘object focused listening’ as well. The most effective dialogue would be the fourth style ‘generative listening’. This is a healthy mixture of ‘downloading’, ‘empathic listening’ and ‘object focused listening’. Noelle’s take home message was: ‘to invest in and improve our listening skills so we can bridge and embrace diversity and be able to make the difference.
Next speaker, Pauline van Tuyll (documentary maker), shared her way of telling stories. She uses her camera as a tool to reveal untold stories, when there is no other way to get them heard. Her work is all about bridging. During her talk, Pauline shared some of her work and talked about her experience with learning to listen without prejudice or expectations. Her approach results in genuine stories and heartfelt eye-opening images.
Lady Lynn, was our special guest, who was invited to share about the way the Chinese Zodiac signs are used in business and relations. She herself has Asian roots and grew up learning about the importance of Chi, (energy) and how this relates to the Zodiac signs and the relations to other signs. This was the time for the audience to check their sign and find out who their allies are to further converse during the break.
After the break we continued with Pamela Mercera who walked us through her life as a young woman with Antillean roots working her way up in the world of IT security land. She shared how she deals with the prejudice and the coping strategies she is using. Making sure she gives the men at work a proper response and never takes on ‘caring’ tasks at work to ensure that she will be treated equally. Brave and paving the way for other women in this area.
Fifth speaker, Lara de Brito, alderman in Wageningen municipality and GroenLinks leader, was born and spend her childhood in Mozambique. She observed the differences and inequalities between rich and poor and how people would cope with the inequalities between rich and poor. Lara is on a quest for economic system that measures things that really matter in life and emphasizes equality and sustainability.
Carolijn Brouwer, Olympic sailor and our last speaker, she swept us away with a clip of the reality of the 2015 Volvo Ocean race in which she competed with the all female Magenta team. She took us through the preparation and the hardship and the strategies the team used to beat the competition (read male teams), “we were the fittest as we could be” and “where the men had more power, we focussed on timing” were a few snippets of her lively and engaging story. Carolijn ended with a clip of how the team won, one of the nine legs (distances) AMAZING!
We ended with drinks and a bite, which gave everyone the chance to discuss the engaging stories or just catch up with each other.
Really it was a great event, you should have been there!
Have a look at more photo’s of this meeting in our VWI photo album.