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5th World Appreciative Inquiry Conference-2012, Belgium, Ghent

Chandi Prasad Chapagain, PhD
Managing Director
Appreciative Learning and Development Management (ALDM)
Kathmandu, Nepal

5th World Appreciative Inquiry Conference was successfully held in the beautiful city Ghent, Belgium in 25 -28 April 2012.

Since I was passing through the busy schedule of books writing and launching them, it had been rather difficult to manage time to get participated in the conference. Substantial efforts made by my wife Bimala and of course tireless attempt of my own got me become a part of the conference ultimately.

Marc, Dana's father came to receive me in the Brussels' airport by his big car holding my name card on hand. Talking to each other, we departed to Ghent from Brussels, the capital city of EU. Marc works in IT business field. He called his wife Rita to arrange meal for me and asked me if I would take veg. or Non-veg. I was fed chicken rice. As soon as I reached their home, I felt like taking some snapshots. Alas! Battery charger for camera was missing and an electric plug for computer charger too. I was not taking warm clothes either. How would a man in April's hot weather of Kathmandu feel the European chill? Since Book Launching Program on 21 April left me with no enough time, I had a hurrying schedule to leave for Belgium on 23rd April. I had to manage my household matter too.  It was then not such a strange for me to forget things as such. The moment I noticed things missing, I asked Marc to help. He bought both things for me instantly at the price of forty Euros each. They decided to use the electric plug themselves later, so I had to pay only forty. My short and sweet stay in Belgium proceeds this way.

It was almost a hard job for me to manage expenses required for the conference since the publication expenses had squeezed me for thirty long months. I had been actively writing after I resigned my job in Plan International Nepal. I managed plane ticket, insurance, and visa charge all on my own whereas organizer and Imagine Nepal jointly contributed for the conference fee. The main 'accommodation' expense is yet to explain. For this, I requested organizers to manage someway so that I would not use the vehicles but could walk on foot to the center. As per my request, Bert and Arno arranged accommodation in a family nearby. I stayed in a family with Dana and Geert (Girlfriend and boyfriend). The room provided me was comfy one with toilet, bathroom, and a beautiful panorama seen through window and study friendly environment. I wrote major portion of this report in the very room.

Geert showed me the places around and Dana took me to the conference hall, the Congress of Ghent. They taught me the necessary traffic rules. I enjoyed looking busy road with bicycles, tram, bus, car and special road for visually- impaired people. I saw no traffic jam despite the busy road. It was because of proper system, the city is very clean and people are disciplined and hard working. People's life there is indicative of how well they have maintained the coexistence and friendship. There are many counties living peacefully in EU and why don’t they in a city? They don’t have the culture of strike, Nepal Banda etc. These are the dirty things indeed and hence are the hindrances for developing countries.

Small river in Ghent is pollution free. Boating attracts the tourists. The small river reminded me of "my Bagmati" and got me worried. People call the historical places of Ghent by "city centre". Those places are really beautiful and lively.  Those places reminded me of Kathmandu- the most beautiful valley in the world. It's however become victim of human encroachment, impunity, pollution and accusations these days. Boating over there got me curious as to why can't we boat on Bagmati and Vishnumati? Making dam in different places makes it possible no matter about the size of river. Ghent, the place which is cold for almost half a year, reached the peak of development because of people's discipline, unity, rule of law and hard work. If only the very formula is adopted, Kathmandu can be made the bright star in no time. For this, negative culture must be put end to, thereby planting virtuous and positive habits. If we really aspire to build our nation, we must live with high morality, discipline and honesty.

After I witnessed life in Ghent, many complex thoughts followed me. I began comparing Belgium with my own country Nepal- the country of oldest civilization, great Hinduism, unity in diversity and peace. But where are we heading to despite all these? Where is our present accusation heading our country to?  I thought. There are dozens of Christian and Muslims countries. Nepal was only one Hindu state. It is a liberal religion as Hinduism itself. Is caste and ethnicity based federalism a dire need of Nepal? Isn't it to bring about unwanted worries? The questions as such came along. Actually, hard works and patriotism lead the nation to the right direction. Begging mentality ends up with dependency. We ourselves are responsible for our identity, peace, love and cooperation.

Now let's go to the specific subject matter of the conference with a snapshot below:

The conference was chock-full of pioneering figure of Appreciative Inquiry as Prof. David Coperrider, Dr. Diana Whitney, Prof. Ronald Fry and many more. It was an immense conference with 600 people being participated from over 40 different countries as USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Netherland, France, Japan, Brazil, Singapore, Romania, South Africa, Germany, China, Nepal, Philippines, Switzerland, the host country Belgium etc. I had to present my paper entitled "From Appreciative to Spiritual Inquiry: A Generative Contribution of Appreciative Approach for World Renewal" at the first hour on 27 April 2012. This paper is based on generative principle and is an advancement of positive mission. How to move further along with the universal values thereby converging positive thinking, development, science, religion is the central issue of the paper. I presented the Spiritual Inquiry Cycle which I had already practiced in different places of Nepal and a conference of Brahmakumari World Spiritual University, Rajasthan, India in September 2010. This Action Cycle is a new innovation in the world. Since the Problem Inquiry Cycle is not functioning well, Appreciative Cycle emerged. Spiritual Inquiry Cycle (SIC) is more advanced and practical than Appreciative Cycle though it is a generative product of it. People are found more attracted because of SIC's extra nature with positivity and spiritual wisdom being merged.

Presently the fame of Sai Baba, Brahma Baba, Ram Dev, Ravi Shankar, Dinabandhu, Chinta Mani, Swami Chandresh has widened because of their human friendly spiritual wisdom and values. Positivity and spiritual wisdom have sisterly related in this sense. Removing the darker side of spiritualism and turning light upon the positive aspects can make this Action Cycle useful for over 500 years. Spiritual wisdom is elder than positivity, socialism, modernism and the subject well assimilated to human life. It can't be wise enough to work on human society by avoiding spiritual wisdom and common good values. Distraction may engulf the people otherwise. This action cycle is closer to the spiritual wisdom and human friendly universal values; hence it is useful to both East and West.

Though small in size, Belgium has its boarder linked to Netherland, Germany, Luxemburg, France, and UK. Diversity and variations here are remarkable.  Among many, Ghent is the living city of Belgium, the heart of Europe.

It's been 30 long months since I left my job from Plan International. I am differently swimming in the pond of freedom. Open life is more challenging than the formal life. If done, it can yield boundless opportunities too. People liked both of my presentation and the recently published book "Appreciative Inquiry to Spiritual Wisdom". It turned out to be the best-selling book during the Conference. I presented some books to important personality of AI as gift.

Present day society requires not only hard but smart and strategic skill in us. It is moving to develop universal relations for which positivity, spiritual wisdom, business, media, and communication technology have substantial role. I understood how much importance connection, interfaith, advertisement, media, good friends and professionals do have for us.

Not in all cases though, Western writers are found more reliable even if they are simple whereas we nonwestern ones, despite our higher capacity, are not easily picked and have to make stronger effort to get established, unlike them. It is not to create dispute, I am pointing out this. In this discourse, we should acquire place for own and others with great work and devotion. Our identity and skill appeared established since 4th World Appreciative Inquiry Conference was held in Nepal of which five Nepalese were there in the 5th Conference.

If we create, apply and establish the science merging spiritual wisdom, global good values, positivity, development, it will lead today's world in a right path not for 500 years but 1000. This can serve both mother and mother land globally.

No one should label him/herself second-rate whether they are from East or West. It makes no difference if one is Nepali or Indian or Asian or African. Rather we should walk together putting hand to hand and swimming into the universal values like love, co existence, integrity, service and devotion. The Westerners are liberal and have big heart in building world society, universal connection, interfaith and development. It should be taken as opportunity by both Westerners and Easterners. Westerners are getting orientalized and Easterners are rushing west. Today's world is fascinated to global religion and culture. We should come-up with culture of "win- win" in this discourse.

Over all, I must take this journey not as an opportunity for the expansion of positive movement alone but also of converging positivity, science, spiritual wisdom, interfaith and connection between developed and developing society. What the lesson comes very significance here is, we Easterners must learn something from the European especially of their discipline, integrity, rule of law, economic prosperity and technological development.

Amidst the bitter reality of continuous political instability, conflict, unrest, electricity crisis, poor water supply, petroleum and gas shortage and economic crisis in Nepalese society, and moreover my own 30 long months' hibernation during study and writing, though, I successfully completed the mission and took part in the conference for which I feel proud. I really worked under trouble by utilizing problems and converting them into opportunities. All these made me happier eventually.

Appreciative Inquiry is not static rather a dynamic as our society, culture and education. Many people are getting attracted to the very subject with tremendous interest, devotion and newness these days. The main feature of which is to open horizon being guided by creative, generative and proactive assumption of positive thinking. Hence, today's wisdom and books must inspire people and give them with newness which paves the way for positivity and global wisdom for their development.

The four days long conference roamed out in multiple matters got incredible closing. The closing was fantastic with music, group dance, songs and all. It seems it was refreshing every one making them forget dozy and exhaustion. Every one interacted, talked, danced, took photographs and cheered to the fullest. The closing was unique, fascinating and different from the traditional hierarchy based, which often ends with formal speeches.

From Appreciative to Spiritual Inquiry: A Generative Contribution of Appreciative Approach for World Renewal

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