We didn’t go to Zaježova because we wanted to share rooms and bathrooms with people we barely knew. We went to learn.
Where is Zajezova?
In the middle of nowhere.
Cows, deer, grass, a pond, a meadow, and a learning center.
But there are learning centers in Bratislava. Why drive for 2.5 hours?
How long did it take to reboot?
What do you mean by “rebooting”?
We disconnected from our daily lives and connected to ourselves and the people who were there with us. We were enjoying the nature and the peace that was literally present there. Some were lucky to find a cellular signal, but others were blissfully totally disconnected from the world.
So what were you doing the whole time? Just chilling?
Our days were packed with mental work. The main topic was coaching/mentoring and we had several workshops every day challenging us to be deeply introspective and to get out of our individual comfort zones. Our fearless leaders, Mike and Andrea, guided us through the rough seas of self-reflection and self-development, and the practical application of the skills we learnt in our daily teaching life. We boosted our creativity in cooperation with other teachers and in a safe space, we were supporting each other as we explored our values, goals and hopes.
This sounds nice, but could you be more specific about the workshops you had?
After getting to know each other, Mike and Andrea led us through exercises that began with a discussion and definition of who a mentor is and what they do. We covered mentor competencies and compared them to the ones of a teacher. They encouraged us to reflect on our current situations, for example: What’s working fine? What needs rebooting? What do you want to stop/start/activate this week? What will help you most in your development? We talked about past and future stepping stones (significant events in our lives) and analyzed them with a partner. A day was dedicated to emotional intelligence and awareness activities, and we also spent time thinking about and discussing our core values. We wrapped up the week by writing a letter to future workshop participants. For some, this letter was more difficult than expected, as the week was so intense and full of emotions that we needed to process. Sitting in a circle and reading the feedback from others put a smile on our faces and it was actually the very first time during the entire week that we kept quiet. That felt really heart-warming.
What, in fact, did you activate?
One of us got really motivated to move forward with things she has been procrastinating about and became more confident about showing herself through her poetry. The other one of us is significantly more introverted and doesn’t want to be as specific, but she definitely did learn and grow during the week. We both left Zaježová with renewed energy and more tools in our toolbox for teaching, mentoring, and life.
This can happen only in an atmosphere of trust. Did you know the other people before?
Not really. A few of us work for the Bridge, but most of the participants came from across Slovakia. Despite not knowing most of our peers at the beginning of the week, the chemistry of the group worked straight away. Everyone was enthusiastic, supportive, and ready to share. There was a very nice flow in the group and it often happened that we just forgot the time, totally focusing on the things we were doing. Besides the workshops, we spent a lot of time together.
That sounds extremely intense. Did you have any time off to relax?
Every morning we practiced yoga outside in the garden, so everyone who was willing to get up pretty early had a chance to start the day with a very positive vibe. After lunch, we had a two-hour siesta during which we could hide in the tea room, hike to the meadow or the surrounding hills, go on a trip to nearby towns or just take a nap. In the evenings, we enjoyed activities like a pub quiz or a book swap, or simply sat around the campfire, listening to music and talking the night away.
What was the food like?
The diet was vegetarian or vegan, which was nice and more or less rebooted our digestive systems. Some of us were craving more cake, ice cream, fruit, bread or coffee. With so much brain work, more sugar was simply necessary. One evening, we were treated by one of our mentors, Rakesh, who cooked a delicious Indian dinner for us.
Would you go back next year? YES!
Written by Alison Orton and Kamila Jančíková