In March 2013 the German magazine Oya put out a call to hear from self-directed learning centres. Carola von Szemerey from Tribe 6 got in touch. In edition 40 that came out earlier this month the magazine features a follow-up article on what Carola is doing now and the value of her time at Knowmads. For those happy German speakers among us, here is the original. For the rest….a translation.
…Carola von Szemerey? In issue 19 of Oya, published in March 2013, we were looking for places where lively and self-directed learning takes place. Carola reported on her experience at ‘Knowmads’, an international experimental school for social entrepreneurship in Amsterdam.
‘We are a tribe that learns together,’ Carola wrote to clarify that her studies at Knowmads were not only about gaining knowledge, but also about the community process. Communication within the tribe, dealing with emotions and experiences in the group played an important role. Entrepreneurial tools were mainly put into practice by working on concrete assignments and projects.
At the time of writing the article Carola had just given her half-year presentation, in which all students share their insights on their personal learning process. This was a very emotional moment for her as the intensity of the processes that the Knowmads accompany each other on became clearly visible. She spoke of the backpack of norms and limitations that everyone carries round, tied up with the chains of society. When you start shaking them off, you are very vulnerable at first.
Today Carola tells me what has happened since then. She tells how she first traveled with friends through Brazil to visit different educational organisations and make a documentary about them. The film project is now nearly done. There were many other projects too. ‘At the end of each project I was completely shattered,’ she regrets, ‘I didn’t take good care of my strengths. We never had enough people and still wanted to get everything done.’
Becoming aware of this was a turning point for her, she realised that she could make a fundamental change. Despite the social orientation shared by the dedicated people around her, she experienced the usual phenomena of a dog-eat-dog society, such as egotism and pressure to perform. This engendered the desire in her to work directly with ‘people as they are’ and bring change there.
Today she is still in Brazil, living in Piracanga ecovillage and following a two-year training course in body work, ‘Osho Rebalancing’, a form of deep-tissue massage, which simultaneously addresses the physical, energetic and emotional levels. It’s about letting go of the things that prevent us from living the life we want 100%. A large part of the training consists of self-awareness and meditation practice.
Carola feels that what she is doing now is a continuation of the path that began at Knowmads. ‘We received and learned a high sensitivity for group processes there, to observe without judging.’ These skills are a real benefit to her in community life at Piracanga. ‘Without my experience at Knowmads, I would not have survived everything that has come at me in Brazil.’ She reiterates. ‘We got a foundation there to be able to find our way anywhere in the world’.
Body work will be her focus in the future. ‘Would there still be war in the world, if people were better connected to their bodies?’ she wonders. She is still interested in pioneering learning places. She would like to find a balance between her therapeutic work and her commitment to social projects. Even the entrepreneurial knowledge that she acquired at Knowmads can be incorporated in her practice by connecting her body work with advising organisations. ‘If people are more connected to themselves, they may not make such a mess,’ she says, laughing. The next two or three years will be spent learning and traveling and then setting something up of her own.
At Piracanga she lives by the sea and so surfing has become a life motto for her: ‘You can’t take every wave, you have to wait for the right one. But even the wait is beautiful because every moment in nature is to be enjoyed.’ Nora Baumann
copyright Knowmads 2020