iCRA Staff Retreat – 2021
iCRA was finally able to connect again as a whole team in a face-to-face environment at the end of September during an overnight stay at Woudschoten Hotel & Conference centre in Zeist, The Netherlands. It was 2 days’ worth of brainstorming iCRA’s new environmental policy, creating an intricate manifesto for iCRA Group members, learning about compassionate communication, as well as spending quality time, reconnecting on a human level.
As you already know, iCRA has spent the last 40 years dedicated to developing the skills of agribusiness experts, educators, and researchers in the most sustainable way, with the goal of improving livelihoods of those in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. iCRA’s focus on building skills and knowledge on agricultural development works towards greater food security and gender equity. Now, iCRA is excited to develop an effective environmental policy that will also interlace our activities and leave a positive global footprint. Combatting the negative effects of pollution, plastic usage, fossil-based transportation, and waste will be at the forefront of priorities for iCRA for the foreseeable future and we will encourage partners and stakeholders to do the same. Hopefully, together, we can create a greener and environmentally safer place for many generations to come.
iCRA Group members are vital to the ongoing connection we have to priority locations throughout the world. Not only have these group members been able to help iCRA in creating important relationships locally, but they have also added key expertise to the iCRA team and ensured a positive representation of iCRA abroad, especially during these times when travel has not been possible. During the retreat in Zeist, iCRA staff was able to reflect on what group members mean to our organization as well as how we can support them better. The ensuing iCRA group manifesto will guide our organization to guarantee mutually beneficial, sustainable, and transparent relationships with group members and partners, in line with ethical and progressive values.
Through EmpaTilya, Suzanne Nederlof facilitated a workshop for iCRA staff to practise compassionate (aka “nonviolent”) communication skills. This method helps to better communicate needs while staying connected with feelings on both sides of the discussion. This skill is critical to the dynamic and often fragile contexts where iCRA works and will hopefully enhance the results of our collaborations. Suzanne Nederlof succeeded in getting the iCRA team to lean on the softer side of our emotions, which stimulated some very interesting discussions!
In good ole’ iCRA fashion, we ended off both days with quality time, nice food and great company. Learning how to cook some traditional Dutch food in the “wild” was quite the bonding experience, as making food around the fire is something we all have in common, no matter where we come from around the world. Being able to have informal face-to-face time together, chatting about our cultures, lives back at home, and adventures during missions was among the highlights of this retreat. With iCRA staff coming from France, Italy, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Kingdom, our time together was enriched by these cross-cultural exchanges! We look forward to doing this again next year, hopefully with Juan there as well (as he was in Columbia at the time).
“I found it inspiring to focus together on how iCRA can act more consciously and concretely on the climate and environmental sustainability goals we are all thinking about.”
“For me it was a great experience to get to know my colleagues better, have fun together and learn more about each other on a personal level – and all face to face finally!!! And I also found inspiring the sessions we had on Compassionate communication and the ground work we laid down together for a Climate&Environment policy and iCRA’s group member manifesto. After the retreat I feel even more motivated and lucky to work at iCRA with you all.”
“For me I was really great to see all the curiosity towards each other, people sucking-up the interaction and the energy that can out of that.”