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Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat 2008: Day #3

This year we are primarily focused on re-visioning the Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat; so after two days of following our tradition retreat from at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II (Birkenau), we began our re-visioning process on Wednesday. After our early morning small council groups and breakfast, our group of thirty, past retreat staff and invited guests from Israel, Palestine and Rwanda, gathered in a large meeting room at the Center for Dialog and Prayer. I lead the group in a basic introduction to our Integral Peacemaker Training, which now forms the basis for our Bearing Witness Retreat Facilitator Training Program. The morning included basic mindfulness and meditation training, presencing, deep listening, lymbic re-patterning, and an introduction the the Drama Triangle and our Above The Line/Below The Line model of shifting from denial and blame to ownership and relationship. Then in the afternoon we began our re-visioning process using the Open Space Technology process. Six different groups were convened working on: how to involved more young people in the retreat, bringing the retreat to Rwanda, how to better market the bearing witness retreats, bringing opinion makers/leaders from Palestine and Israel to the Auschwitz retreat next year seeding the possibility of a special Auschwitz retreat for Israeli-Palestinian dialog and conflict transformation; providing a container in the retreat for even deeper grieving process for the participants, incorporating more body and breath work into the retreat, and creating workshops in parallel with the retreat in dream work, acting, music, creative writing, etc. The groups worked all afternoon with a lot of cross pollination from bumble bees and butterflies (people moving from group to group and others who just float around) and then reported out their progress before dinner. After dinner, we enjoyed an evening of traditional and modern African dancing lead by our friends from Rwanda. An incredibly rich day. Tomorrow morning, instead of holding our small council groups, we plan to gather as one group before breakfast to bear witness and two of our Rwanda friends, survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, tell their stories.

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