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2018 Refresher Weekend Report

The following report was published by Rex Morgan as part of his 22 February 2018 NZ Update:

Over 40 eager participants gathered at El Rancho Christian Camp February 16-18 for another invigorating “Waikanae Weekend”.

Our guest speaker this year was Dr Franco Vaccarino, a senior lecturer at Massey University who is an expert in the field of intercultural communication, working with university groups in several countries, as well as serving as an Anglican minister in Palmerston North.

Franco led us on a fascinating journey of cultural discovery, starting with the intercultural encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, and the parable of the good Samaritan, from a culture so different to that of the Jews. He explained that our culture includes our whole way of looking at the world, our identity, how we think, feel and communicate. Each of us has an individual filter in our mind that always perceives everything from our personal viewpoint. In other words, as Franco tellingly stated, “We don’t see things the way they are, but the way we are.”

Franco’s style was warm and engaging, laced with humorous but practical examples, and constant interaction with the audience. The concepts covered were very helpful in encouraging us to reflect on our personal culture, the way it shapes us, and how to best interact with other cultures.

At least twenty members of our Masterton Filipino congregation made the effort to be there, despite their heavy workload in the busy part of the beekeeping season, when early rising and long hours are the norm. This provided a meeting point of two differing cultures, which was an ideal setting for discussion around understanding cultural differences. It was generally felt that the weekend formed another very helpful step forward in the integration of these two cultures in GCI NZ.

After a series of four workshops, it was “time for action”, with Franco splitting the gathering into small groups to consider steps GCI can take in the future to implement the principles covered. The results were then shared with the whole group and the session closed with everyone determined to change their lives by taking on board the insights gained at another fruitful weekend.

The weather was cloudy but mild throughout, and many enjoyed the customary walk to Waikanae Beach, viewing a delightful sunset over Kapiti Island. The meals were up to their usual sumptuous standard, and the afternoon teas and suppers put on by the Wellington ladies were, as usual, “to die for”!

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