The idea of a Leadership School for Unitarian women of Transylvania and Hungary was a result of the second International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women in Marosvásárhely, Transylvania,October 2012. The National Women’s Association of Romania (UNOSZ) and the International Women’s Convocation have collaborated in designing a very innovative program to encourage and empower women to become leaders in their local communities; and to mobilize and motivate women from different generations to participate in a variety of activities related to their women’s associations, church life, and communities.
After several months of preparation, the pilot training session of the Leadership School took place at its “birthplace,” Marosvásárhely, from February 28 to March 2, 2014. Thirty-two women belonging to different generations and having a large variety of educational and professional backgrounds gathered to learn from the trainers and from each other, and to exchange experiences. Participants came from diverse Transylvanian congregations, and even from Hungary. The program was intensive but varied, covering self-management and leadership, personal skills such as self-esteem, motivation, and effective communication, project management as well as basic grant writing skills.
The training program started with the presentation of the Leadership School idea and the reading of greetings from Bishop Ferenc Bálint Benczédi and from Reverend Carol Huston, President of International Women’s Convocation.
The professional program on the first day consisted of three parts. The macro and micro budget topic was delivered by economist and university professor,Dr. Ágnes Nagy. Participants learned about financial issues of the macro-economy and the similarities between finances of the economy and of the household. Important topics addressed were the budget of a household, credit and investments.
University professor Dr. Árpád Szabó conducted a team building session and presented the basics of self-management and the importance of having a vision for the future. Participants had the opportunity to design their own wheel of life, analyze their present situation, and establish goals for the future. Time management and self-development were also important topics of this learning block. Participants were given as homework a project management case study to be discussed the following day in the afternoon. After this very technical introduction, the day ended with a creative and entertaining presentation exercise using drawings.
Saturday started with morning worship conducted by Reverend Csilla Buzogány Csoma. The training session was dedicated to the development of personal and leadership skills. During the first half of the day, Dr. Árpád Szabó continued the presentation of motivation and leadership skills, as well as the basics of project management. The afternoon session started with a discussion of the project management case study in which participants analyzed the project cycle of preparing and selling cookies and the profit resulting from such a business project. The last training module on Saturday was delivered by hospital-minister and mental health specialist PhD Candidate Enikő Ferenczi. Itconcerned women’s life roles and the importance of “being a woman,” communication and conflict management in everyday life, and the power of faith in achieving our goals. The day ended with a dance meditation.
On Sunday, participants had the opportunity to develop their project management and grant application skills under the guidance of grant application specialist Erika Andrási. She explained the critical points of reading and understanding a call for tenders and preparing a grant application from concept to planning its implementation and budgeting. Participants applied in practice what they learned by working in small groups and developing a project idea for an important problem in their local communities. Not unexpectedly, all six small groups chose the same problem: attracting members of the younger generations into the activities of the Association. The participatory exercise was an excellent closing for this highly interactive learning experience.
All participants were rewarded with a certificate of participation and completed an evaluation form about the training and a short questionnaire regarding the continuation of the training activities. Participant feedback was overwhelmingly positive and all the participants expressed a desire for the training to continue.
The aim of the next session is to involve more women from South Transylvania – Unitarian congregations such as Lupény (Lupeni), Petrozsény (Petrosani), Déva (Deva), and Vajdahunyad (Hunedoara). The second training session will take place in Marosvásárhely in June 2014.