The EuroPeers Annual Network Meeting in Rome was the first in-person event I could facilitate again after so many months without residential events or training. And of course, it was also weird to think of being with 70 other people in one place, holding the space for them to feel safe and comfortable to share and collaborate again. Facilitating a residential event – what was it again?

Well, it could not have been a better environment since me being a trainer is very much connected with having started to be engaged and feeling part of something bigger with the EuroPeers community. 

A good friend and colleague of mine once said: “it’s like swimming!” So I was glad that I could swim and exercise my facilitation abilities in the frame of this very safe sea and meet so many new and familiar fishes I share some memories, values, and ideas with. 

One thing was very clear already when I met the team in person one day before: the social contact between people – even at two meters distance – is very much needed for human beings. Seeing and feeling this crowd moving, listening, laughing, being active, and observing the single molecules of the crowd in having deeper talks, sharing thoughts and ideas made sure: EuroPeers are back on track! 

Well, they never left the track, we know! It was incredible how many EuroPeers joined the network meeting who so far just met other peers online and did their training online. During the last one and a half years we learned that EuroPeers are able to hold connections over long-distance, they know how to keep the community feeling inside, they stay active in other ways, and practice solidarity. And we did that and have shown that we keep a connection to the ones who belong to us: I am very glad to have met a few EuroPeers from the UK who keep on going and to have had the chance to work with Nathan within the trainer team.

This encounter was a huge learning opportunity for all involved: How to organise a big face-to-face event in pandemic times? And how to provide access to those who couldn’t join the residential event? I think we managed well and I am glad we had the chance to try out to provide a hybrid version. And we learned a lot when it comes to the questions of how to take care of the vulnerable ones in society for whom these times are even more challenging or how to take care of this one planet we have.

I saw all EuroPeers working hard on their mission, vision, and values, on new ideas to stay connected, learn from each other and build alliances and use synergies. And of course, brainstorming and developing new ideas, activities, and projects. But also the representatives of the National Agencies used the days very wisely working on a long-term plan for keeping EuroPeers alive, letting the community grow, and developing the network further. So we have the next years of international network meetings already taken care of.

One last thing grabbed my attention. Traveling again seems to be more special now and somehow leaves one feeling privileged. Transferring my body and mind to another place, moving in time and space, and being framed by another environment has an influence on the way we look at things and people, how we understand them, how we learn and reflect on learning. This ‘being somewhere else’ is a quality that should be exploited as much as possible to feel a relation to the place you are. So I was very glad and felt inspired to stay a few extra days in Rome afterward.

I am very much looking forward to meeting you all again in Poland!

By Sabrina, EuroPeer and trainer