Learning Journeys: Experiencing a system through the lens of people within it


Learning journeys are a way of experiencing
a system through the lens of the many people and groups that compose it. They involve travelling to places and meeting
people in their day-to-day reality, with the aim of gaining a fuller picture of
a place and the issues it faces. Hi, I’m Medina Olalekan from Synergos,
a global organization that helps solve complex issues around the world by advancing leadership
which builds trust and collective action. We call it “bridging leadership.” Synergos organizes learning journeys to help
bridging leaders gain understanding of a particular place and situation. Learning Journeys build relationships- among
journey participants and the groups they meet. Learning journeys can help people hone their
bridging leadership skills. How? By breaking old patterns of seeing and listening,
and by taking a systems perspective. We call this systems thinking. Learning journeys include not only meetings
with leaders and experts, but also with people who may lack” voice”
within a system. These are often the people who are most affected
by the issue. These trips are about more than collecting
facts as we might on a site visit- they focus on empathy, deep listening, and
dialogue to gather both data and human insights. So as a learning journey participant, what
can you do to make the most of your experience? Before and during your journey, learn about
the historical context and the current situation of the place you’ll visit. Also learn about the leaders, communities,
and initiatives you’ll encounter. Also consider:
What questions do you and other journey participants want to explore? What assumptions do you hold? What do you expect to learn and see? During the event, pay special attention to
power differences, both within the context that you visit and
also between visitors and hosts. Who is in the room? Who is talking? Who is not? What are your expectations? What are the groups you’re visiting expecting
from your visit? What are the local customs for dialogue, dress,
photography, and respect? Who is hurt by the current system? Who has an incentive to keep the system as
it is? Synergos will help you with these issues and
questions as you prepare for the journey. There are a few more things you can do throughout
the experience to learn the most you can from it. First, be aware of your own voices of judgment,
cynicism and fear. Get curious and ask questions. One of the best things you can do? Listen. During a learning journey you will listen
in several ways. You will listen to the people you meet. Pay attention to things that challenge your
assumptions. Practice what we call empathic listening – striving
to see the world through the eyes of another. You’ll also listen to what is emerging within
you. After listening to so many voices- a deeper
understanding will emerge. This is called creative listening. Avoid the urge to prescribe solutions right
away. Listen deeply, absorb and let ideas emerge. It’s easy to want to act right away, especially
when you’ve observed an injustice. But experience tells us that the” drop-in”
style of social change almost never works. Solutions have the best chance of success
when they’re locally led and owned Reflection is key. Synergos will schedule time for reflective
practices into the trip. We’ll journal, spend time in nature, and have
conversations. We encourage you to continue reflecting in
the weeks and months after your trip. We hope you’ll end your journey
with a sense of appreciation, wonder, and purpose.




Comments
  1. Wow this is a great perspective of learning… I can even apply this to my work life and daily life. Thank you for sharing this.

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