During November 2015 Connected Wisdom of New York took the Circle Method to the IAC Mishelanu weekend retreat for Israeli American college students from the NE region of the U.S. The theme of the retreat was Zionism, and organizers presented workshops designed to connect Israeli American college students to Israel, as well as Israel to American Jews.
Connected Wisdom, whose specialty is enhancing connection amid diversity, demonstrated the application of the powerful Connection Circle to the theme of Zionism. The results were exceptionally impressive. Rather than highlighting the political aspects of Zionism, Connected Wisdom staff focused on the internal experience of Zionism as a unity between Jews resulting in the formation of a nation. Participants explored the internal realization of the role of Israel to be “as one man with one heart” and what it means to be a “ light to the nations.”
Forty-five Israeli-American college students from numerous schools in NY and the Northeastern U.S. attended the Saturday morning session conducted by a team of Connected Wisdom facilitators from NYC. After warming up through a series of connection games led by CW lecturer, Laurence Cohen, participants were arranged into circles of ten. Connected Wisdom facilitators Sarah Gluck and Lio Spiegler led the Circles through an in-depth look at the concept and method of the Connection Circle. Students considered such questions as, “Why the Circle?” “How to achieve connection using the Circle Method?” “What are the functions of the Rules of the Circle?” Participants then took the Circles Method and applied it to questions related to the session’s theme: “What is the nation of Israel?” and “What is Israel’s responsibility to the world?”
Although words are inadequate to describe the experience, both student participants and event organizers were completely lit-up by what they experienced. They were astonished and impressed by the depth of the insight achieved in the Circles using the Connected Wisdom Method. While students explored session themes using the Circle Method, event organizers looked on from outside the circles. Upon witnessing results of the Connection Circles in action, IAC Mishelanu organizers approached Connected Wisdom staff about the possibility of implementing the amazingly effective Circle Method in an additional session to be presented by the World Zionist Organization the following day. Connected Wisdom staff agreed.
Therefore, the next day the Connected Wisdom team took the content prepared by the World Zionist Organization on the topic of the Israeli Supreme Court and how it deals with divisive issues, and formated it for discussion using the Connected Wisdom Circle Method approach. When participants gathered, they viewed a short film on Israel’s Supreme Court and learned the Circle Rules in preparation for the one hour Connection Circle workshop to come. During this session IAC Mishlanu organizers sat with students in the Connection Circles. As one Connected Wisdom facilitator described the session, “They scrutinized what it means to be brothers and then imagined together what the world would look like if the Jewish nation were to value unity and connection above all else.”
Participants appreciated immediately the world-changing potential of applying the Circle Method to the most difficult and challenging obstacles faced by humanity. The experience left IAC Mishelanu organizers and students participants alike glowing with praise.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it! I couldn’t believe what was happening in my circle!” ~ IAC Mishelanu organizer
“If we could put all the world into circles there will be no wars and things will be better.”
~ Mishelanu student participant
“That’s what the Jewish nation is really about–the connection! We all are responsible for each other!”
~ Mishelanu student participant
“The connection was so intense that it was hard to believe that these students are first time in a circle.”
~ Connected Wisdom trainer
Introduction to Ambassador Training
In addition to the two Mishelanu sessions to which Connected Wisdom trainers applied the Circle Method, Connected Wisdom staff also presented a 45 minute Introduction to the Ambassador Training. The Introduction to the Ambassador Training presentation unveiled a training course in the Circle Method which will be held in 2016. The program will train students to apply the Circle Method to any topic and will provide instruction on how to facilitate a Connection Circle. Connected Wisdom staff speculated that perhaps 6 to 8 students would volunteer for further training in the Circle Method. They were astonished to have 27 of the participating college students volunteer for the upcoming Introduction to the Ambassador Training program.
When the professional association of Ellana Burlan, CW Outreach Director, and Tomer Joshua, IAC Mishelanu organizer, gave birth to the collaboration of Connected Wisdom and IAC Mishelanu for November’s Mishelanu retreat, the new doors of possibility that would open were unimagined. Sarah Gluck (CW NE Regional Director) and Ellana Burlan met with Tomer Joshua and provided an explaination and firsthand experience of the Connected Wisdom Circle Method. Working together, the small team envisioned the specifics of how best incorporate the gift that Connected Wisdom had to offer into the IAC Mishelanu retreat weekend. At the conclusion of the IAC Mishelanu event weekend, with the profound impression of actual experience in minds and hearts, interest was exponentially increased for future collaboration. Plans are unfolding for an Ambassador Training in the Circle Method in 2016 as well as for other events that will be enhanced through incorporation of the Circle Method.