News: 95th Orientation Course brings out the best

Bruce Farquharson contributes some of his expertise
Our 95th Orientation Course was held at a new time (September/October) and a new venue (North Parramatta Uniting Centre), included new sessions and new staff and was, for the first time, integrated into our Solidarity Awards function.

This was also the first group of volunteers prepared under the title “Solidarity Volunteers”.

Even with the new directions, which show Palms’ willingness to adapt our formula to meet changing needs, there was still much which would be familiar to participants from earlier courses. The expert facilitators facilitating deep thought on issues of culture, personality, development, health, security and skill exchange; the enhanced learning resulting from the interaction between participants, each of whom brought their own experience and expertise; the camaraderie between participants, staff, facilitators and guests; and the fun and interactive nature of Palms’ course which makes it a worthwhile experience even for those who decide not to volunteer just yet.

Seven participants completed the course, receiving their certificates at our 2nd Solidarity Awards, and are now preparing for engagements in Timor-Leste, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and South Africa.

The feedback from participants about the course was remarkably positive, as was the feedback from staff and Solidarity Awards guests about the calibre of this year’s recruits.  We can’t wait to get you into the field so you can put into practice the unique approach of Solidarity Volunteers.

“Thank you for an absolutely magnificent week. To have spent it with such a group of beautiful, enthusiastic, committed, passionate, happy people was far beyond my expectation of the week. I can not remember a course ever providing such pleasure and having everyone come together so closely. Of course it was partly the course and mostly the people. I am not a good journal writer but wrote about you all on the plane home. Just got home and am still smiling broadly, both remembering the past 9 days and looking forward to next year.
Please take this with the excess that was intended. I am not one prone to write statements like this. The measured, stabiliser Bruce is the situation normal.
To see the other Palms people today relating as a Palms family provides the hope that the years ahead for us will include the closeness that we witnessed today.”
-Bruce Farquharson

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As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. - Pope Francis (Joy of the Gospel 202)