Pang Khee Teik on IRR2019’s Unconference Sessions

Ever heard of UNCONFERENCE? Our very own Pang Khee Teik of the I4C-East Asia Hub talks about it here and shares his reflection from experiencing and managing this participatory process during the Inter-Regional Retreat in Bangkok.

PKT on Facebook: UNCONFERENCE! My first time running a full on Unconference. I did a small version of this half a year ago within The Commonwealth Equality Network retreat, and even that took some convincing. Which is understandable. It’s a format that scares organisers who prefer to plan everything to the last detail, but totally makes sense for all of us who believe that knowledge and decisions should be participatory and collective, right down to deciding what we want to discuss. This Inter-Regional Retreat of Innovation For Change, hosted in Bangkok by the East Asia hub, was the first time I’m part of a full Unconference and I’m here to tell you it works.

Together with the brilliant Philipp Reichm and Bistra Kumbaroska, we built the rough agenda, and then spent much of the time getting our colleagues to trust the process.

And trust we did. I watched in awe each day as the magical Macedonian Bistra facilitated, while the gentle German Philipp guided us to build the agenda every morning, based on the narrative themes that we helped to frame earlier: sustainability and resilience of members (Day 1), of hubs (day 2), of the network (Day 3). I love love how the whole team at Civicus, our Helper Hub, threw themselves into the format to ensure it works, working overtime on the phrasing of the guiding questions, the template for reporting, the locations of the breakout sessions (including deciding on which cute animals to use to help identify the spots), and most importantly, learning and adapting each day to make it work better. A lot of work and detail went behind the scenes into ensuring the format is free and participatory.

I love this team so much. Thank you Adi Mistry Frost, Mouna BenGarga, Chiedza, Gerardo, Derek, JD, Safia, as well as the East Asia Hub, what honour to work with them and learn from them. Can’t wait to share this methodology with everyone.