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A Surprise Trip to the Netherlands
Our Journey to the European Mastery Symposium

Karmen Mlinar
Kamnik Slovenia
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 4, August-September 2004, p. 92.

In March 2004, 86 Leaders, plus their children, gathered in Rolduc, Netherlands, at the European Mastery Symposium (EMS). The event was held at a beautiful abbey. Leaders from countries across the world attended, including Austria, Czech Republic, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.

One month before the Symposium, I received an email about attending from my District Coordinator, Laurence Descortieux. I thought it would be impossible for me to go. There were the issues of money, arranging travel, and, of course, the fact that I would have to be separated from my family for four days.
To my surprise, Laurence offered me a scholarship that would cover most of the costs of the Symposium. I only needed to arrange for travel expenses. I immediately started to explore the possibilities and found that I would be able to go to the Rolduc to attend the EMS.

Laurence arranged scholarships for two more Slovenian Leaders, Tanja Potoènik and Irena Rupar. We discovered that it would be very affordable and quick to travel by car. We planned on switching drivers every three hours. Unfortunately, Irena’s father-in-law died just one day before we were to leave for the Symposium. It was quite understandable that she stayed home with her family during that difficult moment. Tanja and I decided to stay with our original plan and travel by car.

The departure day came and we left for our journey. It was the first time for both us to travel so far by car—1,100 km (about 683 miles) one way! We were afraid we would miss a road somewhere in the middle of Germany, but we arrived to Rolduc without any problems thanks to Ans Scönfeld, a Leader from Netherlands, who provided us with detailed route descriptions and maps.

Tanja and I were in awe of the beautiful country and monastery where the EMS was organized. I was very glad to see so many old friends, who I met in San Francisco last year at the LLLI Conference, as well as meet many new friends, too.

There were three days full of sessions. Tanja and I attended different sessions because we wanted to gain as much information as possible to later share with other Leaders back at home. The sessions were in English and lasted all day. There were also evening parties at the wine cellar. It was a tiring, but wonderful, experience!

We enjoyed learning new information and meeting other people. The experience was energizing and motivating. Tanja and I were also happy that we got to meet others from Future Areas in Europe. The journey to Rolduc seemed impossible at first, but it is an experience that we’ll never forget.

Author’s Note:
I’d like to express my gratitude to many people who helped us along our way to the EMS. Laurence Descortieux and all from LLL Europe, who made this experience possible; Nan Vollette, who brought posters and pictures from NASA to entertain my seven-year-old son, Luka (he was thrilled to get the marvelous materials from space); Ans Scönfeld, who provided an LLL Publications Handbook and the opportunity to pay Leader dues; All of the conductors, facilitators, and others who did a great job with organizing the EMS; Welda Hörz, who gave us a beautiful concert; the Leaders from different countries who participated in the great Resource Fair; and, of course, I’d like to thank my family, who survived without me. My two-and-half-year-old toddler is still breastfeeding, which is very important to me!

Karmen Mlinar lives the small town of Kamnik, Slovenia and has been an LLL Leader for 2 years. She and her husband, Niko, have three children: Luka (8), Naja (6), and Jaka.

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