At this point today, in 2004, I have spent the past 7 years in Russia (Moscow primarily, but also the North Caucasus) conducting conflict resolution workshops as part of the Alternatives to Violence Project and working with NGO's.
In 1998, I was trained in Future Search by Marv and Sandra. I haven't yet had the opportunity to use this form of work, but hope to some day.
In 2001, while living in Moscow and not having many dimes to my name, I learned from Lena Marchuk (with whom I had co-presented on Future Search in Novosibirsk the year before as part of a series of workshops for trainers/consultants offered by the professional organization of NGO trainers and consultants in the CIS, Intertraining. Lena, I had met, incidently, through Marina Tyasto. Marina I met at a Conflict Resolution Conference held in St. Petersburg in 1997) about Birgitt Williams's OST workshop scheduled in Novosibirsk. I ran, did not walk, to the closest ticket window selling train (!) tickets to Novosibirsk. I took the mind-numbingly boring two day train ride (which doesn't even take you half the way across Russia) to Novosibirsk. Lena graciously put me up. And the rest is history.
I continue to be hypnotized by OST, slowly moving from a doubting, skeptical but nevertheless a cool-headed fanatic (if there is such a thing) to a true believer.
Some of the places I have used OST:
-developing a tolerance training program for Moscow -with Chechen refugee women in a tent camp in Ingushetia -Chechen refugees who are Alternatives to Violence Project trainers -strategic planning with an international NGO in Ingushetia, for their peacebuilding trainer network -with a kids organization in Moscow -strategic planning with a Moscow organization that works with substance abusing youth
I intend on participating also in an Arnie Mindell workshop in Moscow this May. I hope this may catalyze me using Open Forums also in my toolkit. We'll see.
I am slowly making a conscious foray into professional consulting both for NGO's and the business sector.
And I do not cease to be incredibly grateful for all those who intentionally (or not ) brought me on this path (and that includes my parents and Spirit!) and support me in myriad ways!
I can be reached at email@example.com
With light, Raffi Aftandelian