back from Porto Alegre

Yes, I did make it back from Porto Alegre! And I’m already fully emerged in life here at the seminary, particularly Hebrew – more of that in a moment.

But first to complete my reports from the WCC 9th Assembly. On the last day of the assembly, I sat in on some of the business sessions to observe the consensus decision-making process, introduced by members of the Uniting Church in Australia that has been using this method since 2000. The delegates each had a blue card and an orange card, blue indicing disagreement and orange agreement. At key points during a discussion, the moderator would ask for a show of cards and then invite those with blue cards to offer a different point of view. The delegrates then demonstrated, via the cards, their level of agreement with the dissenting voice. Gradually the assembly moved towards a point where changes had been made to statements or proposals to incorporate the various challenges, where accepted; the idea being to reach a consensus. It was fascinating to see the documents take shape or phrases being worked out in this fashion. While those willing to voice their disagreements publically tended to be of European origin, and predominantly men, the process did seem to offer a more collaborative and inclusive approach to decision making than a vote which often leaves the minority feeling ignored.

I really enjoyed the assembly - the people, workshops, resources, worship. It was fantastic being part of a global gathered community for the 10 days of the assembly. It was particularly great to spend time with old friends . Here’s me and Tamara on the peace march (as usual my eyes are closed!)

I had several close calls on the way back as everyone seemed to be heading to Uruguay for the weekend. One of the hotel waiters told me that the Brazilian rich don’t like carnival - they leave the country for those few days to the poor, returning when order has been restored.

Back in Buenos Aires, I’ve had a very busy week with my Hebrew course. I’m taking (as an optional extra) this intensive to consolidate and build on the work I did in the autumn through Birmingham University. This time though, it’s taught in Spanish and in four hour sessions three evenings a week. We are moving at a rapid pace, and I just hope I can keep up.

On Friday I had my initial panel interview to agree the shape of my first year here which was quite a different experience to what I imagine takes place in English universities. The head of each department was present at the meeting and each in turn asked me to describe my studies in their area and the gaps I had. There was a real sense of collective responsibility for my learning.

Outside of study, I’ve managed to get to some of the Buenos Aires Tango Festival

more next week.


Pam (Elam) Bradford said…
Great to see you and Tamara! Sounds like an interesting time -- cool that it coincided with the Carnival too! Keep the updates coming...