Destination: Seggau 2012
One of my favourite writers, Leo Tolstoy, once said, “True life is lived not at moments of grand crisis but at countless ordinary and prosaic moments, which human beings usually do not notice.”
You are probably wondering what I am talking about. What does this quotation by Leo Tolstoy have to do with the two weeks spent at the International Summer School Seggau 2012? The answer to this question is quite simple, though. And I am going to explain to you why.
These two weeks, which are gradually more or less going to turn into a bunch of memories, are in fact totally true. It is not a dream; it is simply life that happened to 78 lucky young people from 26 different countries all over the world. Having the chance to experience Seggau Castle in Austria with all its luxury, listening to lectures delivered by international experts and taking part in discussions and afternoon seminars is something that should be valued. And I am sure that nobody will ever forget the unique atmosphere that would be undoubtedly considered prosaic in Tolstoy’s words.
Seggau Castle (one of the views)
But let’s put it straight. I can still hear the words of Jenny, one of the characters in the “Fame” musical: “There are some things success is not. It’s certainly not fame. It’s neither money, nor power...
Success is waking up in the morning so excited about what you have to do that you literally fly out of the door. It’s getting to work with people you love. Success is connecting with the World and making people feel. It’s finding a way to bind together people who have nothing in common but a dream. It’s falling asleep at night knowing you did the best job you could.
Success is joy and freedom and friendship. And success is love.”
And that is exactly why the International Summer School Seggau 2012 is one of the best moments one can experience in their life. The above mentioned things make it successful.
Are you still doubting? Ok, I will explain you why.
When “F” Means Found, Not Failed
Expressing myself clearly, there are “4 Fs” that make the whole event especially unforgettable. These “F-features” are Freedom, Focus, Friendship and Fun. These four “Fs” represent in fact the core of the summer school, something that the happening was all about. It would be useless trying to mention and summarize everything that we came through during these two special weeks. One just has to try their luck, come and see by themselves. I can only tell you why it is all more than worth it.
First Things First: Freedom
Atmosphere during one of our lectures
The first special “F” that is in my opinion the most important thing is freedom. And I do not mean only the personal freedom I acquired after the arrival here. Yes, it is true that I got rid of all my duties, little siblings, dirty dishes and a demanding summer job – well, at least for two weeks.
However, what I meant was slightly different. These two weeks at Seggau represent for me rather the freedom of ideas. Freedom of the mind that we were expected to show to others and deal with it in return... the diversity of opinions that eventually originated as a result of the independence of thoughts of all the participants. I must admit, it is less difficult to simply say what is on your mind than to defend your idea in the face of so many diverse opinions.
Nevertheless, we were supported to do so during all the lectures and the following discussions. And this is something I have never experienced before. Having the chance to speak my mind and confront my ideas with so many diverse options that the others came up with is something that never happened in my university studies. I was taught to “dig through” the theory, and not deal with the practice. These two weeks at Seggau enabled me to seek broader perspectives, to search for wider contexts than those I already know. The lectures provided me with so much information and so many things to think about... One of the last things I had to let go of was no doubt my fear to find out who I truly want to be.
F No. 1,5: Finding Oneself
Time to meditate
The right word for this need was meditation. Almost every morning our group of the “high-spirited” met with Michael Kuhn and while listening to his words and watching the beauties of nature, we were trying to discover the truth about ourselves. Trying to find my own peace was something that I was truly looking for. And no doubt it helped me a lot. I am still not an expert, but now I at least know how to start and what to do. I would probably never forget the words of Mahathma Gandhi: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall.”
And that is true. Because in the end, it is the true freedom and diversity of thoughts that ruled and won this year‘s summer school.
The Silver Medal: Focus
What do I mean by the word focus? During the summer school, we were invited to maintain a critical approach. And that is also the difference between Susegg and my home university studies. Not having to fear because you have a different view than your teacher is an unforgettable feeling. I am sure everybody will agree on the fact that the focus of the summer school was to bring together different nationalities and to broaden their horizons by simply showing them how different they are. Focusing on a number of diverse ideas, from the current crisis to spiritual leaders and modern media, we were first and foremost focused on the strength of character, development of humanity and respect for the diversity.
Although the main topic of the Summer School was Leadership and Education, what I will always remember is the approach of each one of the professors rather than the content of their lectures... I will never forget their views, how they presented them and the way they dealt with us rather than the specific year or explanation of the scholarly terms I did not understand. However, it is their open-minded attitudes and strong morals that speak for themselves. They taught me how to be a better human being... how to be focused on who I am and what I am capable of becoming rather than what the world wants me to become. It is all about the approach... It does make the difference, believe me.
No. 3: Friendship
To put it in a nutshell, everybody knows that summer school is not only about seminars and books, readings and discussions on serious topics. Susegg was for me something special. It was rather about people and interaction. Having the chance to meet so many different people with so many diverse backgrounds does not happen often. Some people do not meet in a lifetime as many different citizens as we had the chance to “observe” here.
I must admit, I was a bit afraid before the summer school. What if it goes all wrong? What if they do not like me? What will I do? Now I know that I needn’t have been afraid. I know that the people I met here, in Seggau, will stay my friends no matter what happens. We experienced so many different things together! Lectures, seminars, evenings in a café or in the pool, walking and dancing, chilling out, a trip to Graz, Venice and Vienna… I will never forget our small talks and big laughs.
When do you have the chance to make friends from Poland, China, Namibia and Great Britain all at the same time? It is this castle that connects us, that makes us all united. And friendship is the “F” that makes the event even more important, at least in my view.
F of all Fs: Fun
Chilling out – our beloved ice cream
Finally, we had a lot of fun this year as well! You would never believe how often I laughed. Playing games, swimming, eating together and chilling out – these are the things that really connect people. However, I think that what really brought us all together was ice cream. It should be in my opinion declared the official summer school mascot. My friend Mirna brought about the funniest moment of the whole summer school when she said in Graz: “I wanna be in a relationship with this ice cream”. There is probably no need to say that almost all of us present nearly suffocated with laughter.
F No. 5: Susegg Forever
What to conclude this report with… Probably with just a wish that would make all the effort worth it: Let’s act the rest. Let’s be sensitive towards those who are less lucky than we are. Let’s live our beliefs and make people realize what this world should be all about. Let’s never forget who we are first and foremost: humans. And there is no difference between a black girl from Botswana and a white guy from Finland. Let’s live the values we have been introduced to. Because that is what makes the difference. And that is also what the summer school taught me. You have to start from yourself.
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