Notes from NELSOZ

On this page you can get a sense of some of what we’re doing on the NELSOZ (NACAD Experiential Learning Sessions on Zoom) by reading some feedback and notes taken from various sessions.

NELSOZ with Eric Clark on April 1oth

Our group focused on a theme developed by Tony Robbins. He describes our Primary Human Needs as follows:

CERTAINTY – the need for control, predictability and security in daily life, and the ability to plan forward

UNCERTAINTY – changes in routine, surprises, adventure, unplanned new experiences all contribute to a full life

SIGNIFICANCE – this suggests the need to have a positive impact on others, on the planet and to be valued by others

CONNECTION – we have the drive to create social bonds in the family and community, with other human beings too

GROWTH – implies new learning, facing challenges, dealing with hardships and much more

CONTRIBUTION – we seem to need to do things beyond our own self-serving actions that serve the needs of others

As the participants took a moment for quiet reflection on each of the above words, we allowed ourselves to determine which emotions were elicited. We could also assess the importance of each theme for us personally. This brief exploration offered a focus for authentic dialogue with those present. It is anticipated that we will continue to include other members next time and spend more time noticing how specific attributes of authentic dialogue such as truthfulness, open heart, selflessness and inclusiveness might be enhanced.

As always, the unique contributions of each one of our diverse group of open-hearted members made this a special event.

NELSOZ of March 13th with Kim Smiley

During our last NELSOZ, Kim capably guided us in exploring the misunderstanding that sometime occur with people we care about (including our own family members) and that can lead to conflict.  These can be due to a variety of differences – in background and upbringing, perception (what I say is not what the other person hears), beliefs and values, education, semantics (use of language) and many more.  Sadly, such misunderstandings can have severe repercussions (people who were close not speaking to one another, sometimes for years) and no one is immune.  So what can be done?  Once again, we need to double down and focus on being authentic as we interact with others.  This is not easy work but with patience and perseverance, it might eventually help clear such misunderstandings.  As they say, charity begins at home – authentic dialogue can in time help mend serious conflict but perhaps a more immediate application is creating healing in our own immediate relationships!  Wishing all of us success as we take steps in this direction.      (summary written by Yaakov Schneid)

NELSOZ of Feb. 13th

At our last NELSOZ we had an in-depth discussion on a few related questions:

1. What is your vision of a world in harmony and unity where bridges are crossed and conflicts transcended?

2. How do you see your part in helping bring this vision to reality?

3. How can our NACAD community collaborate to manifest this vision?

 This led to a stirring conversation where we shared our personal visions and hopes.   At our previous NELSOZ, we were joined by Mohammad and Elad, a Palestinian and an Israeli who have become dear friends joined in the common pursuit of understanding.  Their story was moving for the rest of us and gave birth to the vision that Yaakov shared (just an example of our conversation) that one day, Mohammad’s and Elad’s children will play with each other as all kids do, without any thought as to who is who. 

 We will be carrying on with this conversation at out next NELSOZ on Feb. 27th.  The exploration continues. 

NELSOZ with Len Traubman and special guests Mohammed Fayyad and Elad Vazana:  Jan 30, 2018

Summary from Libby Traubman

The January 30th NELSOZ zoom gathering was facilitated by Len Traubman. The focus was based on two quotes, the inspiration of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955).  

 “Driven by the forces of love,  the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being.”


“The day will come when,  after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Based on the first quote, we pondered what we are doing globally in coming together. And responding to the second quote, we explored the personal, motivating fire within each of us.

To set the tone for the personal sharing, Elad, an Israeli Jew and Mohammed, a Palestinian from Gaza, shared their personal stories of change. They described their negative views of the “other” growing up and the specific experience that led each of them to begin to see the “other” as human and equal. Their stories are very powerful and real which helped to open the participants on the call to look more deeply into our own personal moments where we felt the fire within. Hearing Mohammed and Elad talk about life in Israel and Palestine also stirred a lot of interest in hearing more about these difficult relationships and more stories of change. They also suggested hearing more from Elad and Mohammed, wondering if they might facilitate a NELSOZ zoom call.

The 15 people on the call shared time nicely and clearly appreciated hearing from each other.

NELSOZ with Yerina Rock:  Jan 16, 2018

Summary from Yaakov Schneid

At our last NACAD NELSOZ session, Yerina very capably led us through an emotionally-stirring exploration of the sexual abuse and harassment of women by men (and occasionally of men as well).   Most of us could relate due to some history of abuse.  Our discussion highlighted that sexual harassment and worse are the most damaging and visible cases of abuse but there are also more subtle yet insidious instances – any kind of disparaging remarks, or becoming emotionally withdrawn and uncommunicative can be experienced as abusive.  Getting the perpetrator and the victim to sit down together is seldom possible because the victim’s wounds are deep and the abuser has a hard time facing the terrible wrong he has done and acknowledging wrongdoing.   When this abuse is seen through a wider lens, this dynamic that speaks to the great difficulty of dialogue between abuser and abused at least provides some explanation for why so much of the conflict we see seems so intractable.   The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a good case in point.  

 So what are we to do?  Victims have to find a way to move on and reclaim their dignity and strength and thus lessen their feeling of victimhood.  To be sure, this is very difficult to do and for some may mean a lifelong struggle.   Because apology or admission of wrongdoing from the perpetrator may not be forthcoming, the victim has to do the inner work needed to become free of the damage, as difficult as this is.  Much of the rallying against abuse and harassment has so far been led by women, with the #MeToo movement being a prime example.  It is now time for men to rise in support of women.    Support from men, in time, may even in small ways begin to even out the power differential between abuser and abused which has brought about abuse by men toward women and all sorts of other forms of the strong party asserting his will over the weaker one.  If men rise in support of women that this dynamic can begin to shift.   

NELSOZ with Leah Taylor Best:  Jan 2, 2018

Summary from Libby Traubman

Leah shared her deeply personal story of transformation, which is still in process, a good reminder that we are all working to become our best and most conscious selves.

Leah’s story begins with her move from Canada to Augusta, Georgia, USA into an environment of world views and social attitudes that differed from her own. Leah describes herself as being very liberal, having studied International Development and Global Inequities which helped shape her values along with exposure to the more diverse political and social values in Canada.

When Leah moved to Georgia in 2010, she experienced having her values challenged “on all fronts”. Her views on political issues such as health care, the environment, gender, and people of color and other religions were all challenged. It felt that many of the views were very black and white, all good or all bad and it took some time for Leah to realize her old agree-or-disagree way of relating did not work. This was very difficult because Leah was into a relationship with Jess, who became her wife, and many of these strong opposing views were experienced with Jess’s family.

So Leah began seeking a way of relating that would be beyond debate, beyond only facts. She remembered anthropology’s approach of curiosity — how did the culture get this way? And Leah realized that their views were as important to them as her own were to her. She decided to try and begin to understand their view by beginning to ask more questions, to clarify, to understand.

This change took time because the family didn’t trust this shift in Leah’s approach at first, but in time they all began to relax. With this new way of relating, common values emerged. Space opened up for the family to ask questions as well. New dynamics have helped determine the appropriate time to have the more challenging exchanges and Leah and Jess have agreements about where to draw the line. They have set “compassionate boundaries” meaning if unacceptable name calling occurs, rather than arguing, they end the visit.

Some of the essential principles that Leah shared as a result of this experience are the following:

Dialogue, don’t debate.

Get clear on your intention. (am I open or closed?)

Understand their intention.

Ask questions for a deeper understanding

Find your common ground. (respect)

Share how you feel. (I feel……)

Close the topic peacefully.

Stop and breathe to calm yourself before speaking and own your own emotions.

For more about Leah and The Bridging Principles:  Leah Taylor Best, M.A., CEO, Lead Master Facilitator.   The Bridging Principles, Augusta, Georgia

The Bridging Principles is a blog about doing business and life differently to create better results for all.


_________________________________________NELSOZ with Sungho Kang: Dec. 12, 2017

Summary from Libby & Len Traubman:

The Korean-Japanese gathering was in Okazaki, Japan, and was co-convened by Sungho Kang and Naoko Jin. More about the details are at

Historical grievances, and healing from trauma, and relationship reconciliation, can be successful be including both:

A.  discovering, experiencing, and objectifying past life experiences — conditioning — and,

B.  considering, creating, and in-filling with a new reality.

We would re-phrase this: “It is governments and politics that hold back or prevent bridge building.”  Local and international citizen-driven reconciliation based on face-to-face engagement and authentic Dialogue is very often successful.  It is a needed foundation in parallel with any government process, and is almost always citizen created, facilitated, and funded universally.

This activity may be poorly understood by traditional institutions, especially governments.

Occasionally modest government funding is given to activities of public peace processes.

In some cases, seriously threatened governments or institutions may restrain citizens from engaging across borders with defined “enemy” citizens.

Summary from Yaakov Schneid:

I am writing to give you some flavor of our last NELSOZ.   Our recent sessions have been devoted to one of us sharing personal experience in bridge building between conflicting nations.  There have been tensions between Korea and Japan for centuries and Sungho shared his experience of bringing young people from Korea to a Japanese city, where Japanese families hosted them.  Have a look at the bright young faces in the process of discovering the Other” –  The demeanor of these people tells the story. 

We began looking at some important questions as a result of Sungho’s sharing:

 • How much of the bitter or sad past that was part of the inter-nation conflict needs to be shared with young people?  After all, overly dwelling on this past makes it difficult to move forward to the future but it cannot be ignored also.

• It is governments and politics that hold back or prevent bridge building.  On the other hand, citizen-to-citizen diplomacy works and we have numerous cases that demonstrate this.  What can be done to encourage and foster more reaching out at the citizen/NGO level?  How can we at NACAD be instrumental in this?

 We would like to continue this sharing of bridge-building experience early in the New Year, and invite you to contribute to this. 


Facilitator Wannette Tuinstra‘s slide presentations from Oct. 17 :  •••NELSOZ 1  and Oct. 31: ••NELSOZ 1 The Sequel

Oct. 3/17: Notes from Wannette who participated in a dialogue about our process and goals as a group:

NELSOZ Authentic Dialogue, 03 October 2017

Quiet space and mindfulness, introductions.

Jacob was our facilitator and asked questions:

what brought you here? what were your expectations?

very open to the experience of what it was, aware it was not quite formalized

it its beginning stages came here because we only learn by interacting with others

learn about our differences and how to live with them and learn from them

  being together, coming together, and seeing what skills, knowledge and experience would come about , as we create this together space

consciously co creating an experience of being together;

accessing more approaches to teaching global citizenship and spiritual world

gain more resources/ideas

How do you connect to authentic dialogue? Where do you go in work and other pursuits, that connects with authentic dialogue.

a musical trio practicing Flamenco is a musical artform that demands authentic dialogue, because there is no leader, its co creation, is tracking the other,  so we have to be tuned into each other, and respectful of independence whilst being in unity. Wonderful arena to practice principles of authentic dialogue. A lot of it is purely musical, emotional.

currently training in Hakomi, which is assisted self study, many ways of describing, I see as a kindred methodology. At a personal level, I aspire to be authentic with my interactions.

conflict in the middle east is a big part of my life, leaving me in dismay many times. But bringing Israelis and Palestinians together is like a beacon. Even if our chances are dim, that is what I dedicate myself to. What I do day to day, I try to bring employees and managers together in the workplace, because creating a better understanding between them is important not only for performance but so that he or she is truly a member of the organization and have a relationship with the manager. So that is how I put into practice, so I dance between these two worlds, the workplace and bridging conflict in the middle east and other places.

everything is communication , so whether online or out shopping or whatever, I am always noticing what it going on, people are communicating, now that I am online reaching people all over the world, there is always chances for misunderstanding, so it is hugely important and useful.

in my personal life, is my cross cultural relationship, at a time when the world is quite islamaophobic, and we communicate honestly and almost transcendently, but many people maybe think we shouldn’t be together, and so we have to find a way to connect beyond the labels. then I bring this to my many work roles, whatever I am doing I think on reflection, I am authentically myself, I want to learn from others, so in my teaching, I am learning too, and I always say that, so it is an authentic interaction.

it comes from the core of your being, your personal life and radiates outward

what do you think will improve  the experience of authentic dialogue?

it takes time when many people from different places are meeting, find ways that it works.

In many meetings we talk about authentic communication instead of putting into practice.

Talk about it in an abstract, macro level, whereas it is interesting and useful to go into that, it becomes it becomes more interesting, when it is grounded in micro examples, case studies.

we are having overlapping and similar conversations. interested in exploring the nitty gritty, as individuals, or a case study and how AD has been used.

not sure what it looks like, that is what I am missing,  grounding our meetings into concrete interactions.

so actually practicing it.  And learn as we doing it

the word self congratulatory has been used.

isn’t it wonderful, such an amazing concept, such a need in the world

instead of getting into the dialogue hoping that there might be some conflict in our group, even a difference of opinion, that would start authentic dialogue, as someone gets attached to an idea, or offended not being heard, and we become aware as conscious beings, it could be a wonderful hothouse in which to experience.

How do we move from the abstract to the concrete? What do we need to do here, to take on a more hands on experience so everyone can walk away at the end, I am experiencing and living authentic dialogue?

we could take on as a  group a little project, that was aligned with AD, planned and did something in our communities, we could practice together., then we could exercise what we are learning. One area would be with refugees, because it is growing, and will be more complex and challenging all over the world, or something else. Then we can come back here to exchange notes and dive a little deeper.

the session facilitated by Libby and Len where we paired up, it was time consuming but the experience of sharing , work with them was invaluable.  there are many such exercises in mediation and facilitation that we can use to develop our skills, put in a new context but build that concrete experience.

understanding little by little authentic dialogue in our gathering

each facilitator  give an outline of this dialogue, present questions in events, important questions, underline key words, then each participants can think of his or her ideas, and try to make more concrete ideas , little by little, will be helpful.

send a notice or agenda, what will be the key words and main questions of the coming session. Will focus, direct and deepen discussion

practice going deeper. Or lighter. not just talking about ideas, providing a context within which we can go deeper or higher. Some attributes can be arrows, portals to going deeper into our exchanges.

need a feeling of safety to go deeper.  that I can share openly, my aspirations, struggles, disappointments with kindness.

what would deeper mean or look like?

session with Libby and Len provides an excellent model of going deeper, different ways, going deeper as a group, but we haven’t; had much of an opportunity to engage with each other. 

Methodology, work we might be engaging wit , will look very different.

Good idea to go out in our communities and bring ideas back here.

we are becoming more robotic, with so many communication devices, seem to be connected to some device, lost our expectations of having greetings or any interaction. So I have been practicing my own version, when I go to a business for instance.

familiar faces for safety and trust

Idea in core meetings, was to have people register, five or  sessions in advance and make a commitment to be there, so we have a group that is stable and continuous.

Limit numbers: less people, it’s easier.

Sometimes when a lot  of people, it feels amazing with faces from all over the world, but the quality of the connection is not as good.

create agenda points, establish exactly what we are going into how and when.

creating a course, or study experience of ad, each sessions like a chapter in a book ,but all connected, so we go through a process, and each time we learn different aspects through consulting and study as well as through experiential dialogue.

not only intelltectual approach, how to practice ad in our life with some activities, very important.

A little more research on theory on how to inspiration, how to build it, with impact and influence by practicing. We should apply what we learn through interactions.

More systematic. More training, our group discussion to develop it.

a course of some kind, that brings together some of the ideas we have been hearing. 5-6 sessions, would enable us to begin practicing, deepening our understanding, share more of who we are, where we try to go, our aspiration. Sorry, this course has reached capacity, we can open up another one.

Co create the course. Take responsibility. Be the learning.

J can take a different form as the sessions progress. The course a living, breathing entity

Hugh asked what that would look like? Like today’s session but with some questions?

Common understanding, what AD really is, what it means to us

several sessions at the beginning we did that, identify attributes, protocols, we even have pages on the website.

What I am concerned about  is that we will get back into, what Yerina called talking about authentic dialogue, instead of jumping in

when we go into theory, we can combine with something experiential, maybe role playing.

I feel like I don’t have a good grasp, maybe it does not require a conflict that you are grappling through, not even sure of context where it is used.

usually conflict can be a wonderful thing. Quote, in a couple if two people are always agreeing, you can be absolutely sure that one person is calling the shots. In a relationship there is some conflict, and if there isn’t then maybe we are not really being authentic. But we have to feel safe enough to do that.

Using role playing, to bring some real conflict that we are experiencing personally or broader world, and can work with that, and apply the principles of ad, that can be the learning material for the course.

Different facilitators, so that helps us to involve and co create this learning communuty, so we are not always in the facilitator chair and the others learning. So maybe we could each take a lesson, or part of a lesson


Expanding core group?

Yerina summarized today’s trajectory:

Jacob has been facilitating the session and looking at our expectations and what works, what we are interested in finding different forms, the script evolving in the future. For instance, we have been talking a lot about AD without getting in to the nitty gritty, and getting deeper, having clearer agendas, questions, can prepare for. Suggestion is to create a course, co created among the people who participate, sometimes in participant role sometimes in facilitator role. It is a limited group and this lets us go deeper, and gives individual space. Also working on a project in the course in our community. AD not just from the theoretical but more experientially. To encourage continuity, have a registration and commit to 6-8 session in advance, and we can expect to see those people and that will create safety so we can go deeper, in a psychological sense.

Hugh asks who can take the next session and Wannette agrees to share some of the techniques and exercises she has learned and see where it goes.

Agreed that part of the process is 20 minutes or so, self reflection, what are we doing, how does it feel

Yerina agrees to put together guidelines on participation to set this up, drawing on netiquette so that people are safe, respected and can participate.

A closed FB group is also agreed to leave messages, and see what is happening.

June 27/17: Notes from Discussion with Margret who is teaching German to Afghan and Syrian refugees near Frankfurt. Our group consulted on how we might support her or start projects with refugees in our own communities:

·   Have people share their personal stories to create connection and also practice English. Very powerful. (L.)

·   In Toronto some restaurants have opened their doors to Syrian women who cook food and the public orders it. Women get together and talk to each other, removing isolation. They have translators helping them learn English, using their own knowledge and skills, and they are getting validated by the Canadians who are coming and buying their food. (A.)

·   Consider something that could get the community involved and engaged (A.)

·   Music can also be a powerful tool for community building (H.)

·   Talking circles can work and will help people share their story in a profound way. Use a talking stick and each person gets a turn to speak or not as they wish as the stick goes around the circle. People can talk for as long or as little as they like.  (C.)

·   Have a translator present so they can talk in their mother tongue (H.)

·   Could have a community event that brings together German community members and refugees to share food, music, and sharing (L.)

·   Jan’s explanation of talking circles: During talking circles important to be aware of cultural and religious dynamics. Could start talking circles with they only have to use one word of what they are feeling as they each have the talking “stick”. Pick something neutral to hold onto for the group. No cross talking. Only person who can talk is the person with the object being passed around. No one can ask questions, make comments, or give feedback to another person’s circle share. You may find out that for some individual’s cultural backgrounds that they do things like this or in a different way (J.)