European National Directors meet in Malaga

Sunshine and Picasso

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In the Spanish countryside near the town of Malaga, Spain, 28 European National Directors of EFIL’s Member Organisations met in an extra ordinary setting with a cosy atmosphere, excellent facilities, and great Spanish cuisine for their Heads of Office retreat, the first one of this kind since the retreat in the French Provence in 2010. The quality time spent together was enjoyed by all in the inviting, informal and relaxing environment of the beautiful Hotel Molino de Santilan. While getting to know each other better was high on the agenda (with daily, highly appreciated interactive fun exercises), the group also had an appealing working agenda, focusing on the theme of “Leadership in Times of Change”. Caroline Steyaert, National Director of AFS Belgium Flanders, facilitated a much appreciated day-long interactive session on the topic of innovation and change management, based on the book “My Organisation is a Jungle” by Jef Staes. Day two of the retreat was built around “Change – Impact – Solutions”, introduced briefly by a number of short presentations referring to fields of change at different levels, narrowing down the scope from global society, the AFS global network, Europe and EFIL, to local changes in a number of selected EFIL members (Egypt, Tunisia, Bosnia-Herzegovina). On day three most of the working agenda was taking up by an “Open Space with a Difference” session, focusing on best practices in incorporating the ICL approach, increasing the level of satisfaction of host families, measuring performances, motivation of volunteers, development of school relations, etc. An excursion to the city of Malaga on Wednesday afternoon, including a visit to the Picasso museum, was enjoyed by all. At the closing session of the meeting, special attention was given to AFS Austria’s National Director Johanna Nemeth’s retirement at the end of this year. As a token of appreciation for her commitment and dedication to EFIL over the past decades, on behalf of all the Member Organisations, EFIL Secretary-General Paul Claes presented a gift to Johanna. A big thank you goes to Marcel Krause of AFS Spain who was the perfect host of the event and did an excellent job taking care of the logistics and bribing the weatherman to make sure we had bright sunshine throughout our stay. It was hard for all of us to leave behind the Spanish sun, the lunch time siestas and the relaxed setting in Malaga, and return to our desks, the e-mails, the host family search and the daily routine of our offices… For more: paul.claes@afs.org

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