It is a well-known fact that nowadays soft skills are getting more and more important in the context of professional and daily life. It is essential to understand what key competencies we have and how to use them properly, what emotional intelligence and empathy are, how to build an effective group and maintain team spirit, how to manage conflicts and stress and struggle with our rooted stereotypes and prejudices.
These are the reasons why we decided to organize and conduct an extremely special course for 11 incredible motivated participants from a Polish university of the Third Age (Uniwersytet III Wieku w Zawierciu). Our two weeks were full of new knowledge, a bunch of practice, deep conversations and discussions, emotions, fun, smiles and of course unique Sicilian culture which we explored at full!
The first week was dedicated to the following topics: Key Competences and Soft Skills, Emotional Intelligence and Empathy, Group Dynamics and Team Building, Leadership and Assertiveness. We caught theoretical concepts of the previously mentioned points and did many practical exercises to deepen our understanding. Participants were creating a lot of flipcharts with the key soft skills they consider essential for their organization, with a portrait of a real leader and empathy map. We also tried to put ourselves into others’ shoes and discuss truly happened situations from other points of view and feelings. During the Group Dynamics workshop participants learned how to manage the group effectively during the competition for the highest paper tower built. We’ve also understood how it feels to be excluded, learnt leadership styles: which, where and how to use them and how to say NO in a respectful, but firm way. It was a really productive and awesome experience!
On the second week we were discovering the world of Stress and Conflict Management, Stereotypes, Prejudicies and Discrimination, Culture and Indentity and finally Formal and Non-formal Education. Participants were exploring the notion of stress, behavioral and cognitive strategies with their own examples and writing positive affirmations and gratitudes. It was extremely useful as the level of stress in a modern world is high. We’ve also studied Conflict, its positive and negative sides, conflict management strategies and ways of communication. The last days were about Stereotypes, national and gender ones, we were providing our examples and discussing their causes. Moreover we’ve initiated an interesting debate on What does it mean to be a European and Polish in particular. Many new thoughts and ideas were stimulated during that discussion.
It is worth mentioning that we were not only studying, but also managed to visit and see magical chaotic Sicily and explore Palermo and its surroundings. Participants visited historical sites in Palermo, botanical garden, port and tasted many traditional dishes and street food. Likewise, they visited Mondello beach, magnificent Monreale cathedral with its huge golden mosaics known worldwide and Arab-Norman masterpiece Cefalu with its cozy romantic atmosphere and seaside. Some of them even climbed the Etna Volcano! Such an adventure!
Moreover, every day participants had the opportunity to learn more about Sicilan culture as they were provided with interactive activities on Sicilian cuisine, symbols, history, sights, the Italian language, gestures and Italian songs. It was just unforgettable how much everyone was excited and captivated! We appreciate it a lot!