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Building on one’s strengths and passions

Kjersti Franzon, from Borlänge, Sweden, was one of those from the Nordic countries who participated in the UTSAV gathering at Asia Plateau, India, in January.

I embarked on my journey to Utsav, Panchgani with great excitement, as the focus of the event was initially on creativity, something that has always been close to my heart. As someone who has been applying theater and arts practices to reconciliation work since I was a teenager, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work specifically on this aspect of the conference. However, the focus of the event later shifted to finding IofC's path forward in the world, which led me to realize that I always end up in this position, trying to find my own path within the context of my family's legacy in IofC.

Despite this change in focus, I arrived at the conference with an open mind and a curiosity about why and how IofC is still so active in Asia. The event got off to a wonderful and intense start, and I found myself once again in the middle of wanting to give my point of view and perspective from the fourth generation my perspective of the once young person who never got the reins, still thinking I deserve it and finally realizing another generation has passed and I'm not the young person anymore and I don't even have the reins to hand over.

Eventually, I reached my limit and became overwhelmed and uninspired. At this point, I remembered my goal for the conference: to find peace with myself, my history, and to always come back to what is my strength. I can do many things in IofC, but I needed to focus on my true strengths and passions, the things that give me serenity and energy

During one of the days of open space, I felt so overwhelmed that I didn't know if I could continue or even perform as requested. However, I decided to push through and do my creative thing with the few who showed up. This decision brought me so much joy and energy, and I realized that my contribution should be in the artistic realm. I also felt that the conversation around creativity in IofC needs to be brought to the forefront, rather than being relegated to the background.

I had a conversation with others who felt the same way, and we decided to explore how we could offer artistic services in a way that groups, countries, and efforts of various kinds could have easier access to including artists in the inception of creating programs. We also vowed to not make it another check-in group or same-interest group. We don't yet know how we will achieve our goals, but we will throw the idea up in the air and see where it lands. Our first meeting on this topic is scheduled for this Thursday.

In addition to this exciting development, I had the opportunity to practice my own personal boundaries and focus on what is truly right for me. I also had some valuable conversations with others who have struggled with their IofC journeys, which made me realize that conflicts within teams are worldwide and generational. Finally, I took on the whole experience from the perspective of my clown, which allowed me to process the collective stuckness and disagreements on how to move forward in a beautiful and comedic way. I received positive feedback from people on all sides of the conflicting topics, who told me that my clown performance explained exactly how they felt.

Overall, my journey to Utsav, Panchgani was a valuable and transformative experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to have contributed to the conversation around creativity in IofC and to have learned more about myself and my strengths. I look forward to seeing where this new initiative takes us and continuing to find my path within the context of my family's legacy in IofC