This journey did not end at the Future Forum

“It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Zlatka: @ghizlane,[themify_icon icon=”fa-heart-o” link=”http://”]: How was the time leading up to the Future Forum for you? How did it feel coming back from the NOW Encounter and starting your own project?

Ghizlane: Wow! It was really challenging for me! The NOW Encounter had a great impact on me. I learned so much, I just loved the changemaker lifestyle:the whole NOW values, support and passion for change. I was empowered and so excited to make things happen in my local community.
Once there, I was so lost. I did not know what to do or where to start. My motivation started to drop and I could see that I had such high expectation without a realistic plan. Luckily, my peer to peer group did a good job sticking together and supporting each other! Also, my lovely coach and the NOW team were always there to give a hand.
All in all, the online phase was full of ups and downs, and that what makes it really interesting when I look back. The Future Forum was something I was really looking forward to, I wanted to reconnect with everyone but also to share what we have all learned. @zlatka: How was it the other side around? As a coach could you see us, participants grow and learn from the Journey? How was it like to be a facilitator of this program?

Zlatka: For me coming back from the Encounter was like waking up from a deep sleep. I know it might seem cheesy to put it that way, but when as a member of an incredible team you spend months of planning and thinking about how it will be and then you see it really happening… I was really overwhelming it the best sense of the word. Amongst all the joy and relief that we made it 🙂 . I also had a strong sense of responsibility for the next phase, for my coachees and to support participants to make their projects happen. While all of these online activities started rolling out, I was also looking for a new job, a new professional challenge… You can imagine that at times balancing the responsibility for NOW and for myself wasn’t easy. However, the experience of being part of NOW has made me stronger than I ever been before. Seeing NOWers chasing their dreams, making sacrifices, dedicating times to projects that might or might not succeed made me bolder and a little less scared of making mistakes. I think that’s something we all learned together: participants and facilitators: we all make mistakes and can learn from them. So letting go of my somewhat unrealistic perfectionist self,scared of not succeeding, was one of the first things that happened to me during the online phase.
You asked about the coaching. Being a coach was one of the most rewarding experiences I had so far in my life. Every time my incredible coachees thanked me for listening and leading them, I thanked them right back for getting there, where they wanted to be, by themselves. I was humbled by their wisdom and experiences they shared with me, the closeness and openness we have been able to achieve online. I waited with baited breath for the Future Forum to come.

Ghizlane: I know what you mean regarding the coaching.  It happened to me as well, I could not imagine I would have the strong close relation with my coach since I only know  her online. That is what makes the NOW program so special: We all learn from each other, and it is an ongoing process.

Zlatka:  How did it feel for you arriving to Belgrade in deep Balkan winter and seeing everybody again? What were you most excited about?

Ghizlane: As soon as I saw the NOW team members at the hotel we stayed at in Belgrade, I felt accomplished! I was so proud that I made it to the Future Forum. I had put some goals to achieve before this date and I worked hard on my project. So it was really rewarding to finally be there.
At the same time I was saddened by the fact that not everyone could make it (both participants and team members). After long six months, it felt so good to see the cute faces I missed. We had too much to share and talk about, we could not believe it at first. Even if we were all pretty tired in these last days of the year, the vibes of the Encounter started to come back and there was a big amount of positive energy.
Sweet @zlatka: How was it for you to be at the Future Forum after your long preparation?

Zlatka: Oh, coming to Belgrade I was very excited. I haven’t been to the city before and we have only seen our location on pictures, so I think the whole team was very curious to see how the plans come into reality. Our team member Johanna has done a great job communicating with the hotel (we became known on the first day as the vegan group 🙂 ) and also the logistics team had done an amazing job accommodating so many different schedules and needs.
And then there we were suddenly again, all of us together in Belgrade and seeing everybody again was great, but also not really a big deal. It felt like we just left each other a couple of days before! I just wish everyone could’ve been there. However, from the side of the team, the choice of who would come to the Future Forum was also linked to our values as an organization. This meant, for example, to be mindful about the environment and not to travel by plane long distances for 4 days of Future Forum.
My biggest highlight of the Future Forum were you, NOWers, sharing what you have learned, sharing your projects at the Project Fair or talking about what your dreams for the future during the closing session. So NOW, I am very curious to hear dear @ghizlane: What were your highlights during the Future Forum and why?

Ghizlane: Actually, I had lots of highlights. I wasn’t expecting to learn so much from such a short period of time! The NOW Project Fair was definitely on my list. Listening to other participants share their projects and key learnings from the program was really inspiring!
Another session that just got me, was “Learning from failures”. We live in a society where we just appreciate the big results and the successes. But really, it is not about being right or wrong, it is about following your passion and enjoying what you do in life. It might be disappointing and hurtful but nobody has it all figured out, it is completely fine to fail. We should just take enough time to reflect so we can learn from it precious lessons, we raise again and we continue stronger than before.During this Journey I learned to never give up on myself and on my goals. It is important to continue, to keep going whatever the situation is.
I also enjoyed the small things: the hang-outs in the lobby, the gift exchange, writing cards for NOWers that could not make it, the curious discussions we had during the breaks and the care we showed to each other.I was grateful for a lots of things, the big efforts the hotel put in to prepare vegan food while allowing us to try the local cuisine. I appreciated the NOW team for putting lots of time and energy and love into this program. I appreciated the chance to tour Belgrade, relax and enjoy the moment, look around and be attentive to what people do and how they react in their city.
There was also a very challenging moment for me in the Future Forum. The so-called “Feed-forward” session. Looking back, t is probably the most rewarding of all. In this session, we all gave each other suggestions on areas we could improve in. I could not understand it at first, but I knew I needed to work on most of the things NOWers pointed out. I know it will take effort, time and persistence, but in that moment it was just too much.Looking back, I am grateful for every NOWer that tried to help me in that session. I can see clearly that that activity had a deep goal behind it, which is to help each and everyone of us become the best version of themselves. Everyone who wrote a card cared about me, and gave me priceless advice that I should appreciate and be grateful for.
Everyone faces challenges, and we have two options, either giving it all up or continuing when almost everyone does not. Going back home, I promised myself to keep learning and growing, I promised myself to invest my key learning in my local community, I promised myself to keep my eyes open, continue reflecting on everything around me and stay open to change. It means that this Journey did not end at the Future Forum, but it is ongoing, it is a long, enjoyable process we are going through.

May I ask what is next for you my dear @zlatka?

Zlatka: Wow, thank you for sharing these highlights @ghizlane! Looking back allows us not only to remember the moments we enjoyed and, as you are writing, the moments that challenged us – it also gives us the power and new motivation to move forward. So how does the next year look like for me? After three weeks of evaluating we are ready to start the next NOW Journey 2017 and I am really excited for that. I very much look forward to meet the new participants and design the sessions, as my facilitation skills are something I want to work on during the upcoming year. As I am realizing more and more how in the era of Trump, Brexit and the rise of the right wings movements all over Europe a grassroots dialogue and political empowerment of young people is more important than ever. So my 2017 is going to be full of NOW. On a personal note, I hope to spend more time with my family and loved ones in person and I hope to go on couple of traveling adventures as well. What does 2017 hold for you dear @ghizlane?

Ghizlane: How interesting! I am also excited for the new participants that will talk part of the next Journey, we can’t highlight this enough: #ThisWorldNeedsMoreNOWers!
To be honest, I have no idea what 2017 holds for me. All I know is that I will surely continue developing my NOW project, be active in my local community and work on my personal goals. I am so ready for new opportunities and challenges.
And thanks for the great NOW talk @zlatka, it has been a pleasure to look back on our magical Journey with you!

Zlatka: Thank you awesome @ghizlane to take the time to reflect with me on our first Future Forum! It has been great talking to you.

Written by Ghizlane, NOW Journey alumni and Zlatka, NOW team and board member.