In my experience, the Skills-for-Life program imparted ideas, tools, and simple techniques for a more productive and purposeful living that one could implement on their own as well as in a group. It did not always seem apparent to me at the time, but by the end of the week I noticed a definite shift in my state of mind and in my ability to focus. I struggled with some of the exercises but found it so helpful to live (even for a week) in a routine that took discipline, so that even if I had never learned how to do an exercise, the practice of trying and trying again was hugely beneficial.
I also found it so important that none of the ideas or themes presented were given as a concrete answer, or with the notion that 'this is how it is'. We were treated as equals with our 'teachers' in the sense that we were all really just students, experimenting for ourselves, and gathering observations on what we believed to be true. This was not at all dogmatic and so gave the freedom to question and be autonomous.
Finally, I loved being able to learn practical skills such as cooking, woodwork, garden basics, etc. Having a concrete skill-set by the end of a single week was very rewarding, and it was relaxing to learn something new outside of an school/college setting.
I learned some really handy skills around the kitchen and the woodworking shop. Also, I had an opportunity to learn a lot about myself while being in a place that is different from my day-to-day environment and habitual life.
In some ways Skills-for-Life (SFL) felt like a break. A week off from my job and my friends and my usual daily responsibilities. But it was also a break from the usual goals and desires I am focused on in my regular life. In its place was a work of a different sense, one which involves the self as much as it involves the task at hand. The work on noticing, visualizing tasks, and group participation helped direct me to look inwardly through life and outwardly toward work which benefits the future.
And the experiences I had at SFL still stay with me. I can go back to what I learned and apply it to my usual day and job and goals that go along with them. And that's worth a lot. People say young adults should travel so they have memories and experience that will stay with them as they grow older. SFL definitely reminds me of that sentiment. A 'traveling' inwards, experiencing new people and ideas, but also experiencing and understanding new, or at least unnoticed aspects of oneself and others, and where those two intersect.
For me, the important thing, and the greatest opportunity afforded by the Skills-for-Life project, is becoming part of a community in which we have an active role. Often our experience of society seems fragmented - our livelihoods, our values, and our sense of aspiration, can appear quite disparate. It is not easy to see how we are connected to the people around us, how what we do can nourish us and have significance, inwardly and outwardly.
Skills-for-Life takes us into the kitchen, out into the garden, the wood shop, the dance hall, in a way that connects their functions directly to the needs of the community and ourselves individually. We explore how different areas of our lives form a whole, apply individual expertise to our endeavors, and decide for ourselves what our place and contribution is in the wider community, whilst testing our own habits and barriers.
In short, we go after what is Real.