Two weeks to go…

…and the draft schedule for the course is in place. Course director Andy has been wrestling with the logistical conundrum of slotting in the various contributors, and it’s quite a task. These are busy people. Some are presenting papers in person, others are going to be our virtual guests, hooking up with the Talk Together participants over Skype.

I’m looking forward to the Model United Nations session where the participants will be using what they learn about Western Sahara, flexing their newly developed negotiation skills, and debating the situation at hand. They’ll be challenged to argue positions that they do not agree with. Difficult in one’s mother tongue and even more tricky in a second or third language.

The film crew will of course be poised to capture what happens. The full team’s now  in place and the plans for technical set up are forming. The crew will be on site a couple of days before the participants so they can familiarise themselves with the site, and walk through their plans with the course facilitator.

Meanwhile the Talk Together team’s been working with an organisation called Achordus, which is generously providing a fully supported online discussion space for Talk Together. In the interests of encouraging engagement, from Monday the Talk Together participants will be able to communicate with each other for the first time.

They’ll share their hopes and expectations about the course and begin to establish the understanding on which the course will be based. The dialogue will continue after the participants have returned home. They will report back on how their new ideas and experiences have been received by their families and friends, and work together to determine the best way forward.

And from the infrastructure underpinning the fundamental principles of the course, to the tricky little details of funding considerations. I’ve been checking out the obligations we have in order to secure our full 40,000 euro grant under the EU Youth In Action programme.

We have to provide evidence the course has taken place as proposed. Alongside the comprehensive reports and feedback, we need to hand over the flight boarding cards of all those travelling by air to the UK. Making sure all those important little bits of cardboard survive the excitement of the journey and end up in a neat pile in Oxford is a real test of leadership for the Talk Together team. It’s not only the participants’ communication that’s being developed this summer.

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