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Anasayfa » Madrasa Retreat

Madrasa Retreat

The journey to get to Sirince was one of great learning, because we had to find an alternative way to acquire funds to get there. Our kickstarter had 131 backers and raised 6,776 USD in the end, which was a great sum of money to literally kickstart our project. We also had generous support of the Women’s Resource Center of Armenia through their Swedish donor as well as support from Amargi in Turkey. 

Prior to our first gathering in Sirince, we had been working on collecting oral stories from the women around us with the support of our friends in Armenia and Turkey who gave us short workshops on the oral history method so we could be better prepared for this process. As we had agreed in our initial Yerevan meeting in the winter of 2013, we had gathered stories around the theme of sexuality in order to be able to use these stories during our in-person gathering in Sirince for building trust among one another.

And that is what we did once we were together in the beautiful olive-tree infused landscape of Sirince in Turkey. We spent ten days together and each day we met to move together, facilitate and take part in workshops to prepare our bodies, our voices and our hearts for performing the stories we had collected, as well as to get to know each other better in the process. We were 10 women in total and we truly didn’t know each other very well, so the process of living and creating together was one of great learning.

One of the key methods we put to use and truly benefited from while in Sirince was to prioritize the process of what we were doing above any expected outcome or product we imagined we should have. This was a method that we decided would be at the root of how we relate to one another and to ourselves, to our work and to our process of living together throughout the entire duration of the project. This is the method we continue to use now as we do the work of reflecting with three of the group members in order to create this digital publication for people to learn more about who we are and what we did together.

And it is a simple method: we let the process guide us, we remain open to the day and whatever it will bring us, we prioritize care, rest and healing over productivity, and we don’t force anything to take shape that doesn’t want to be shaped in that moment.

A brief example for how we put this method to practice was when one of the participants approached the group on the morning of the day we had planned our final performance in Sirince and expressed that they were feeling doubtful about the group dynamic because of something that was said the previous night. In reality, many of the participants were worried about how the performance would go, there was a general feeling in the group that we needed to practice and rehearse more in order to feel more prepared, but once the group realized that something did not sit well with one of the group members, everyone agreed that discussing the issue was a priority and that rehearsing for the performance could wait. We were even ready to not have a performance if the issue was so complex that it couldn’t be resolved before the time we had set for people to arrive to watch our performance.

And we did get together to discuss, listen to and understand each other. It was a great moment of continuing to get to know each other, to clarify misunderstandings, to open our hearts and learn to trust one another’s intentions, experiences and worldviews based on those experiences. This is how we built the solidarity and trust we truly yearned for as a group. The fact that we gathered again in 2014 with an even bigger group is a testament to this.