Govardhana Ecovillage, Mumbai, Sept 28 – Oct 9 – The first group of participants to GBC College for Leadership Development completed the second residential session, thirteen days of training and association.
The GBC has been reviewing the zonal configuration of the world and has identified and ratified more than 150 zones (and more are coming, as the bigger zones get gradually subdivided into more manageable sizes). At present the GBC College course focuses on preparing Zonal Supervisors to populate those zones. The devotees who answer the call to service go through a one year curriculum that includes a number of online courses, the Action Learning Project and two residential sessions of a couple of weeks each.
The first day, Sept 27, it was the Disappearance Day of Srila Haridas Thakura, and the devotees took the opportunity to reflect and share on their relation with the holy name, their practice of japa and kirtan. Later HH Bhakti Charu Maharaja spoke about the importance of purity and the essential role of the institution within the sankirtan mission.
HH Bhakti Vijnana Maharaja taught about the subtle effects of offenses, quoting the works of the acaryas and linking the topic specifically to the role of leadership.
HG Laxmimoni Prabhu shared various observations and realization from her forty-eight years of experience in ISKCON, sharing her motherly concern for the spiritual health of the movement and the devotees.
HG Praharana Prabhu, Srila Prabhupada disciple from Canada and head of the GBC Executive Secretariat, introduced the issue of sexual misconduct by leaders, exploring its legal and social ramifications and how to prevent such problems.
HG Anuttama Prabhu, ISKCON Minister for Communications, taught for two days on how to productively relate with key audiences in the media, government, interfaith, etc. The course included on-camera training.
HG Gopal Bhatta Prabhu introduced a number of topics relevant to leadership: From the eight steps for creating change to strategic planning; from spiritual marketing to system thinking; from time management techniques to branding; from how to improve organizational culture to ISKCON’s online outreach. For the internet section he was joined by HG Pancharatna Prabhu, another disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a main driving force behind www.iskcononline.com; where devotees can learn how to increase their impact on the web.
HG Prana Prabhu, experienced professional educationist, introduced the Seven Thinking Hats, the Community of Inquiry and Restorative Justice.
HG Kaunteya Prabhu taught a variety of topics: From how to better chair meetings to how to avoid common pitfalls in PowerPoint. In an experiential setting, he taught the art of reflective listening and other foundational skills for counseling devotees. He also had them challenge their assumptions in a series of “games” designed to promote thinking out-of-the-box and taking a fresh look at ideas and assumptions. Finally, he discussed the topic of samanvaya, or how to reconcile apparently contradictory statements by Srila Prabhupada without sliding into fanatical conflict.
Over various days the participants gave fifteen-minute presentations on their ALP (Action Learning Project), their “home-work” over the last six months, in which they applied approaches and techniques learned at the GBC College. The twenty or so projects – from a Youth Program in Bolivia, to Devotee Care in Ukraine; from a Bhakta Program in Czech Republic to Bhakti-sastri education in West Africa; from fund raising in Myanmar to outreach through yoga in California and so on – the presentations informed and inspired and opened windows on the efforts of devotees worldwide.
Paramatma Prabhu from Guyana wrote: “In my entire Krsna conscious life this one year with the College will be remembered as my most blissful, fruitful and fulfilling experience.” And, Radha Krishna Prabhu, in his email exchange with the GBC College President wrote: “In Hungary we could, and are, using a lot of tools and teachings I got from the GBC College. …The materials provided are so good and effective and changes people’s lives and helps spreading Srila Prabhupada’s movement… I’m in bliss :)))… Practical, useful…I like each and every minute of it.”