Here are some comments excerpted (without attribution) from Capstone Papers written by participants in the Hosting World Café: The Fundamentals course with Fielding Graduate University last Spring. They are answering the question "Describe what you have learned in this course":
"This course has taught me many nuances of working with diverse perspectives and combining many styles of communication. It has deepened my appreciation of the art of finding the best question for the issue. To test the questions for latent assumptions. To make sure the question will reach for the sharing of people’s stories and experience rather than ask for a binary answer or statement of dogma."
"A deeper level of responsibility showed up in relation to my role as a table member. To be active and to be present matters to the quality of the conversation and to the overall well-being of the group. And deeper still is the responsibility that I am carrying away- to invite and engage dialogue around conversations that matter..to do with what I've learned something productive and positive and powerful enough that spirits are called together."
"What's fascinating is that a simple process based on principles can generate such deep connections. And of course the fact that while the actual experience for the participants could last only for a few hours, the rigor that is required in setting the context, diversity of the group to ensure inclusiveness and the laser sharp questions that get people to pause and share from deep within. What I absolutely love about the process is how quickly it helps people drop closely guarded 'positions' to genuinely connect and evolve something that's larger than the sum of the parts."
"The graphic recorder being a keystone in the entire process also got me. Instead of merely capturing contributions for posterity, what's now emerging is using this as a platform for helping participants make connections in the present."
"What most impresses me about the Café work is the extraordinary attention given to setting the context, the space, the questions, the contributions, listening, harvesting and the dialogue. Each one is equally valued, wonderfully described and indispensable. Rarely do we have such a perfectly thought out, researched, well developed organizational way of coming together."
"Last year I participated in a World Café at ___ . I was very impressed by what I experienced and I am so pleased to have participated in this course where I now have the tools at hand to engage in this work myself."
"When I started out this course, I thought that the World Café was an interesting methodology for large groups interventions but I could not begin to imagine the understanding and depth that was behind it.
Working my way through the obligatory literature, I found that the World Café is actually a very researched and studied intervention methodology that goes far beyond what meets the eye"
"I have learned how consciously and consistently the Seven Principles should be applied and how these interweave with each other in design, development, hosting and harvesting stages. I have also learned much more about harvesting – this was something about which I was concerned as I was unsure about my graphic skills. The different ways harvesting presented in the literature widens the choices available and I now feel I have a much better grasp on how this could work with my participant groups. This feels quite liberating"
"I have appreciated the guided way in which we have been invited into the theoretical depths and nuances that the Café represents. The dissertation takes us through the processes of narrative inquiry, cycling in and around philosophical, ideological and sociological theories but also challenging us to consciously consider what this means in practice."
"I would say I have a much fuller understanding of how all of the principles work independently and together, a deeper understanding of the whole, but also of how the individual elements interact. Armed with that understanding, I take more confidence and trust into the process of hosting and interacting in conversations that matter"
"I would never have had the opportunity to learn from and contribute to such wonderful conversations with people from around the globe had it not been for this online platform and for that I am very grateful. Online interaction can be a lesser substitute for face-to–face conversation, but in this case, I actually think I learnt more from having the time to reflect on questions and read others’ responses, asynchronously."
"I felt that as humans, we long to connect to each others. But in the western world, we are used to listen to the differences and to speak for ourselves, to demonstrate our leadership, our strengths, our efficiency and the value of our own ideas, in order to feel recognized and to find a place. At the opposite, in this World Cafe, I felt a deeper call from the heart, the brain and the spirit to connect with people. I have found "in the middle" a great sense of connectiveness, even at distance; individual characteristics didn't matter anymore. That was my "mad magic in the middle"! I found that trust in each other is the key element for a meaningful conversation. That's is also the moment we really start to learn from one another, by building on each others' knowledge."
"The most interesting part to me was the diversity of people who had come together. I appreciated the diversity of thinking, the diversity of communication styles and the diversity of ways to approach the World Café process."
"What have I learned? So many things. I have to say that this course transformed me."
"What’s interesting for me to consider is that I’ve generally been a good listener, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always been the best conversation partner because my questions, were just, well, regular questions. Now I have some practical tools for asking better, deeper, more thought-provoking questions of individuals and groups I am working with. Questions that don’t lead in a particular direction, don’t assume too much or too little, that do keep ideas flowing, that do raise other even more interesting questions—these are my best learnings."
"This course was very helpful to my reigniting my passion to learn and try new projects and methods overall. Often as a solo practitioner I can tend to be insular in my thinking. I tend to stick to my knitting. Being engaged with such a diverse group of professionals was very enlightening."
"I was reminded of the reasons why I love the World Café process. It works the way I want the world to work."
"I like “being around” people who think like the people who took this course. I found them warm and generous … working at jobs that contribute to the world in a very positive way. These people make the world a better place."