International Development Committee Report, GASi AGM Nov 2016
The main activity of the International Development Committee was the 3rd International Summer School in Group Analysis, held in cooperation with IGA Athens in Athens from 13-17th July. With this 3rd summer school, the pilot phase of the GASI summer schools came to an end
After all the inevitable worry about numbers attending, in the end, there were 79 participants from 10 nations – 43 from Greece, UK 11, Serbia 7, Slovenia 6, Germany 5, Israel 2, Republika Srpska 1, Spain 1, Switzerland 1, Finland 1 and Russia 1. With this number of participants, the summer school advanced from 34 persons in Belgrade, 51 in Prague and now 79. The size of 80 participants plus staff seems to us a model scale for the future format of the school. Letting it grow bigger, which it certainly could, would change its character.
Additionally, it has to be mentioned that – as already in Prague and to a lesser extent in Belgrade – the nationalities on the passports didn’t reflect the affiliations, because many participants came from mixed backgrounds and/or were second generation immigrants. GA seems especially attractive to those people who are looking for a place to belong. At least 20 persons came for a second or third time and this signals the fact that a tradition has already taken root. The age range was well distributed from 18 till 65+ – a mix of older and younger people with different experiences enriched the overall matrix. Staff Members of the organizing team were: International: Denisa Schuckova, David Glyn and Regine Scholz; Greek: Bessy Karagianni, Michalis Athitakis, Giorgos Youkakis and Nicholas Cassimatis. During the summer school Angelika Golz, Tiziana Baisini, Yael Doron, Joan Coll as well as Francesca Basicalla, Amalia Delicatessen and Dimitris Livas joined the team. In the end it was an excellent team – united in the wish to make the school a success.
To ease the process of teambuilding the first meeting in Oct. 2015 in Athens was vital, further deepened by a meeting of those staff members who were present at the Foulkes Lecture in London in May 2016. Building up personal relations on which the work can be built only by skype is incredibly hard.
Basically we kept the program structure that was developed for Belgrade, used in a slightly modified form in Prague and adapted again for the necessities of the venue in Athens. We had small groups, a large group, lectures, discussions and supervision. We began on Wednesday evening with the president, Robi Friedman’s opening lecture on “Hate, Love and Becoming Polyphonic” followed by the first large group, convened by Regine and Michalis. The following days had a recurring structure, starting with small groups every morning. These were followed by the lectures (Thursday Bessy Karagianni on “Supervision”, Friday Tiziana Baisini on the “balance of dissonance and harmony in groups”, Saturday Ioannis Tsegos spoke about “visible and invisible psychotherapy”) and discussions. On two days (Thursday and Saturday) participants had an opportunity after lunch to present group situations for supervision; each day closed with a large group. Friday afternoon was free for private activities. So we had 4 lectures, 5 large groups, 4 small groups and 2 supervision sessions. The discussion groups that worked well in Belgrade in a more intimate situation (34 participants), had not done so in Prague (51 participants) and therefore were dropped in Athens – there was instead a short possibility for discussion in the lecture plenary. There is an ongoing discussion about whether the program should be more academic or more oriented towards experiential learning; we think we found a good balance between these poles.
The main change in program was for the staff: After unsatisfactory experiences with the staff meetings held at lunch time, in Belgrade and Prague, we reserved 1½ extra hours every day after the program for the participants had finished, for the supervision of the staff. David Glyn convened these meetings. This helped us as staff members to integrate as a team and to understand better the dynamics of the school as a whole, thus strengthening our joint efforts.
Besides the usual media (mail shots from the GASI office and the Greek office to all members and to all affiliated organizations, flyers, publication on the gasi-forum and the g-p list) we were using for the first time a dedicated website. This was a very important instrument, enabling a very professional administration. Julia, who already was burdened with the preparation of the Foulkes Lecture was relieved of most of the work associated with the summer school.
The papers from Athens together with reports and pictures will go to the December issue of Contexts, i.e. to the website. In Berlin next year a Bridging Event for summer school participants of all three summer schools and other interested people is planned
This summer school was the third, and last of the pilot phase. This old idea originally brought to life by Robi and Marina, carried through by ourselves (Regine and David), supported by Tija Despotovic (Belgrade, Prague) and Denisa Schuckova (Prague, Athens) – to name just some of the colleagues involved – grew very well. Meanwhile our Czech colleagues adopted the format and held a “Czech Summer School” in Czech Republic in their own language in June 2016, which is planned to be repeated in 2017. As laid down in the statement of purpose the summer school made Group Analysis more attractive in different countries and attracted new people – participants as well as lecturers – thus enriching the whole society, engaging in a mutual learning process. As this was the last summer school for the two of us, the task will be to ensure the transition, so that those who inherit responsibility for this venture can carry on and build on the achievements, finding their own new ways to keep the summer school vital and vivid.
Regine Scholz and David Glyn, 3rd October 2016