My Pilgrims Memories
Adam Borowski, Poland
Adam Borowski studies at the English Teacher Training College of the University of Warsaw, Poland. He is in his second year. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have observed a rather curious phenomenon of ‘extremism,’ as I dubbed it. The phenomenon of ‘extremism’ is very simple and has nothing to do with what just occurred to you (well, most of you anyway) : you reminisce about a place you visited, people you interacted with, and it is either ‘jolly good’ or ‘a total waste of time and money.’ I, however, tend to be more relaxed when it comes to passing judgment on others (both individually and collectively) as it is obvious that nothing is perfect as well as nothing is a total disaster. For one thing, from each experience there is something to be learned. Furthermore, let us always remember about the perspective of others and how many things can crop up whenever dealing with a massive operation like Pilgrims. I attended NLP for teachers. I want to present a balanced view of my experiences, a ‘golden mean’ of sorts, as I do not think that anyone would benefit from an encomium or bemoaning in any way nor do I think that the course I attended was on the extreme. Instead, I want to highlight what I think was done properly in terms of the course and the operation of Pilgrims in general, and what could use some ‘sprucing up", I will divide my short ‘memoir’ into segments.
I would like to begin with my arrival. It was a pleasant experience as I am accustomed to traveling back and forth. I like it, as I am an open-minded person (or so I think),I do not consider foreigners ‘Alien entities from outer space,’ as some people(sadly) are inclined to do. Warsaw is relatively close to London, so it is not a problem in today’s globalized world. Canterbury is easily accessible as well – transportation in England is efficient. Lo and behold, I met some people who were about to attend the same course on a bus to Canterbury from Victoria Station. It immediately struck me that they were not exactly ‘my’ age; I was rather young by comparison. Upon arrival, I, literally, got lost. The other members of the ‘expedition’ did not seem to know anything about the location we were seeking as well – but I decided to follow them nonetheless (must have been that age thing). Unfortunately, I was not very successful. And so I was stuck all by myself to find my room. Everyone found their locum beforehand. I do not consider myself as suffering from "directionlessness". Fortunately I talked to some students on campus and it saved both my time and legs. Then there was the ‘key guy’ as I call him. Again, I had to walk around to find him and I apparently caught one of the trainers by surprise while she was applying make-up in her car. I am known for appearing like a bolt out of the blue and scaring people to death – but she was nice nonetheless and helped me with locating my target – the reception. There, I managed to communicate with the ‘key guy’ and he gave me the key mumbling something along the way to another building. I just nodded along. I managed to learn about the meeting and I found Lizzie along the way. She was very formal and to-the-point, which was fine by me. Overall, I experienced some ‘glitches’ in the organizational system…but I think they could be fixed if minor refurbishments are applied. I think that more signs around the campus would be a good idea. I enjoyed the first meeting – people in charge seemed very involved and this is important when running an ‘operation’ like Pilgrims.
It is time to proceed to the next stage – the course itself.
I must admit that I came with a certain presupposition ingrained within my mind prior to the course - I just had this NLP image already in my mind. My instructor, Bonnie, seemed stern at first, but maybe it is just the glasses - I associate them with a certain "archetype". I always play this inner game with myself when I try to guess who is who that I meet, especially an instructor. I usually go for an accent first, if it is an English-speaking person. It is a linguistic interest as within the accent one can find out a lot about a person. The reason I mention all this is that Bonnie had this ‘perfect sync’ to me - her accent corresponded with her appearance that I found - I do not know why - typically American. I am not trying to imply anything negative, it just proved to me how strong my own ‘cultural bias’ was. Anyway, the course itself resembled psychotherapy to me - and I found it both interesting and naïve. For instance, the former dealt with issues that concerned me, like perception of reality and some exercises where one had to face himself using different perspectives - and I must confess that I thought it would be a pointless exercise but then I realized actually how powerful it really was if done thoroughly. The need for precision, as well; it is absolutely impossible for me to be imprecise in thought when it comes to key situations - this is why I enjoyed this premise as well. Why was the course a little bit ‘naïve,’ then? Well, Bonnie was a very meticulous instructor and I admired her patience and insightfulness (I could feel that she actually enjoyed what she was doing) - but she ‘fell’ into the same pitfall like the rest of the course’s participants from time to time. There is nothing wrong with that, but it only proves how powerful certain thought patterns are in people - when they assume someone else’s point without investigation which - no doubt - can be a very slippery slope. Nonetheless, Bonnie was a skilled instructor, no dithering here, and she appeared to be a profound person able to see ‘who is who’ just by looking at them.
I can be a rather difficult individual from time to time, as I like testing people using my own ways. I do not know why this is so, but other participants of the course seemed to notice it and played along - which was fine because they did not feel offended. Granted, people might view such behavior as callous at best, but in my humble opinion it is a fallacy because they do not understand the thought processes behind a person. Another pitfall that NLP utilizes - even if it is your "forte" watch out. The concept of "fish" was very interesting - something trivial, you might think, but the way some people formed their opinions about me could not have been more succinct and "spot-on". This proved to me, once again, that the other participants of the course saw more than I could tell they could. Again, to sum it up, the course taught me what I already knew –the only difference beforehand was that I did not call ‘a spade a spade’ prior to the course itself. Now, when I find myself in a state of agitation, for example, or deep in thought, I perform ‘Why,’ ‘How’ analysis, which helps me to understand my actions, the actions of others and how the two interact and ‘feed off’ of each other. The course cannot change the world around me but it can change the way I interpret the world around me so as to make it more ‘palatable.’
There were some workshops as well. Out of an array of workshops, I attended three of them. Two were very practical and I have some positive connotations accompanying them. (When I see them in my mind they make me feel better, that is, just like NLP taught me). The third one - a little bit less practical and a lecturer would be advised to conduct a ‘reality check’(you know who you are). Different individuals, different personalities, it reminded me of life in general. A strange leap, I know, but it occurred to me that every single person was looking at me through a different prism – one lecturer was interested in my accent and grammar skills, the other did not pay attention to me and seemed to be constantly ‘on edge’(or it was just a pretence, I do not know), the other one was extremely interested in my opinion about education and some of its intricacies – and her interpersonal skills were impressive as I did not expect that someone could establish rapport with a total stranger so fast. There were some people I met along the way, from the Pilgrims staff, very helpful and considerate.
I am a connoisseur of food (at least I think so) so I have to point it that apart from being a little monotonous, it was fine. There were some alternatives involved – but the crowd of ‘savages’ seemed to devour everything very quickly so there was nothing else for the rest of the savages to eat. All in all, though, I would be too picky to complain. You cannot expect ‘food-miracles’ in England can you?
I think that Pilgrims possess a very good base for a wide array of courses – the base that they utilize quite well. However, it very much depends on who you are, whether your objectives regarding a course are clear (mine were not, which made it more difficult for me to adapt and to convince myself that it was the course for me) , what your group is like , what your trainer is like. If you know what you want and ‘stumble upon’ a reasonable group plus a reasonable trainer – you should be more than content with the outcome. Your experience does not solely depend on what Pilgrims have to offer – it also depends on your priorities in anticipation of the course itself.
Please check the NLP for Teachers course at Pilgrims website.