Finding strength in vulnerability: Personal development workshop with IFFAsia for self-awareness

A personal development workshop organized by the Institute of Formation, Fondacio Asia (IFFAsia) and held at Balay Laudato Si’ in Bendum held special meaning for the 25 participants who gathered to engage in thoughtful reflection and courageous sharing of their life stories, dreams, and challenges.

The IFFAsia team of Florence Alexius (Director), Rodrigo Babiera, Jr (Assistant Director), Imelda Soidi (Program Director), and Rebecca Garces (Program Coordinator) of the IFFAsia facilitated the workshop on 23 September 2023 attended by participants from the Bendum community, APC senior high school students, Forest Farm Leadership in the Margins (FFLM) staff, and teachers.

The workshop aimed to explore participants’ unique selves and multiple intelligences, build self-confidence, develop social skills, and strengthen faith.

Through flashback timelines, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analyses, and visual mapping, participants peeled back layers to reveal their core selves. They identified recurring threads of trauma, self-doubt, family duty, and financial stress but also resounding resilience, caregiving spirits, and unshakable optimism. In voicing their life challenges out loud, many felt seen, understood, and connected for the first time.

Workshop participants drawing their life vision.

Participants were divided into seven groups with each participant visually mapping and sharing their flashback timeline stories from their childhood up until the present time and their plans in life. Participants then drew up and shared their personal SWOT analyses and personal development plans including their objectives and goals in life.

During these activities, participants discussed common themes such as self-doubt, emotional and mental stress, obligation towards their families, and overcoming difficulties. They also highlighted the importance of recognizing their personal agency and strength of spirit to face challenges. One key insight was that failure is not when one falls, but when one stops trying. Living for Christ requires sacrifice.

IFFA facilitators present a lifeline sample for the flashback stories activity.

This workshop was a time of reflection for all the participants in many ways. The teachers felt revived and motivated to empower their students. Parents discovered clarity and conviction to provide stability for their children. The senior high students unlocked deeper gratitude for the sacrifices of their parents for their education and a greater understanding of doing well in school.

Though each personal journey varies, their shared commitment is to nurture their gifts and meet the challenges head-on. One realization that deeply resonated was that “faith is not just what you believe in but how you live it despite the ups and downs in the journey of life.” Together, the group affirmed that they can turn to the community during inevitable difficulties, stay surrounded by positive kindred spirits, and make choices rooted in purpose and service.

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