Gaia Education’s Training of Trainers

Af Olha Simon

Quite unexpectedly, last year I got an opportunity, which I hadn’t even dreamt of. It seemed so unattainable and far away from where I was at that time, literally and metaphorically. Thanks to LØS’s support, in September 2022 it became possible for me to attend the Training of Trainers. The ToT is a 5-day course that aims at educating on how to teach and train people by enabling collaboration and participation.
The course took place in Damanhur, known as one of the most famous and oldest ecovillages in the world. I am passionate about intentional communities, so it was a big luck for me to visit it and to explore its heart — the Temples of Humankind, created by Damanhurians. Not only because of the venue was I so excited about joining the training — our ToT was led by an experienced facilitator and a powerful person, Macaco Tamerice. It was an honour for me to meet her and learn from her.

And most importantly, I was highly motivated to go through this course because a ToT is one of the steps towards becoming a certified Gaia Education trainer, which was and still continues to be one of my priorities. I chose this as my goal because I would like to promote sustainability by giving an opportunity to learn about conscious lifestyles to many people in any place where I can offer my service or assistance. One of my true passions now is to facilitate Ecovillage Design Education courses, which are certified by Gaia Education. The EDE that I completed in 2020 transformed the way I saw the world, and since then I have wanted to provide others with such an experience.

Frankly, the ToT 2022 was an intense training for me, with hardly any time to rest during the day. I had a strong feeling that Macaco had so much knowledge to pass to us, but there were so few days for that. Most of the sessions were engaging and valuable, insightful to me. I made many detailed notes. I noticed that Macaco not just taught us about active participation, but also stimulated it all the time, offering various individual, pair and group activities or tasks. At the end of the course, we also were asked to facilitate mini-sessions to show what we’ve learned.
As for my takeaways from the training, I promised myself to practice feeling the state and the needs of the group I facilitate with more attention and curiosity because I realised how much it matters to observe the group dynamics. Furthermore, the state of the facilitator also makes a difference, so it is crucial to stay mindful of your own energy and flow of thoughts while facilitating.

My engagement in this ToT strongly influenced my facilitation skills. And I already use them very actively. Right after the ToT I became the coordinator of the Soft Skills training programs in Ukraine. Having proved myself as a promising young facilitator, I was asked to facilitate some sessions and help with the coordination of the Health, Happiness and Green Living course (including the EDE curriculum) in Avnø Oasis ecovillage which is a member of LØS. And here I am now, one of 2 main facilitators, very happy and grateful to share this amazing journey with all my teammates and students. Only half a year has passed since my ToT, and I already see gigantic outcomes at the same time feeling excited and hopeful about even more ripples on the water.