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The Dragon's Head Blog: Celebrating 20 Years in Costa Rica

Celebrating 20 years of Taoist Tai Chi® in Costa Rica with more than 70% of our membership plus 27 participants from Australia, Aruba, Canada, USA, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, was a great experience.

The preparation of the international programme, the reception and the banquet taught us a lot about participating, working together, communicating, coordinating and exploring things some had never done before.

It was a real pleasure to receive Karen Laughlin, Director of the FLK Institute of Taoism and President of the International Society in our country and our club as well as all the people from abroad. Hosting family members can be a challenge if you do not speak the same language, but the experience made everyone enthusiastic for the next time.

Karen guided us to work on balance, roundness, elasticity, connecting the web (contemporary imagery of a Spiderman suit helped many) and enabled us to explore new experiences and deepen our understanding of  the moves and the practice of these amazing Taoist Tai Chi® arts.

Our workshop was followed by a reception and banquet, attended by 117 people, where we were happy to welcome leaders from the community including the Vice-Minister of Justice and Peace and his wife who is personal assistant to the first lady, mayors, deputy mayors and council members from surrounding cantons, and the president of the City Council of Heredia. All spoke with respect and understanding about the Taoist Tai Chi Society and offered several opportunities for working together.

In addition to the community leaders and speakers from Australia to Aruba, marimba music, dancing and good food we also enjoyed a presentation on the development during the last 20 years of the International Society and how that has been reflected in the first 20 years of growth of the organization in Costa Rica. It was nice to have all the previous club presidents at the banquet. One of the young members gave a moving testimonial of how she benefitted from Taoist Tai Chi®, of how she started classes around three years ago, dealing with arthritis during 10 of her 26 years.  “I did not get my life back, because I did not like my life.  I have a new life”.

We had a great learning experience in working together and receiving family from abroad.  We enjoyed a wonderful workshop. We are grateful for all the support from family members around the world during our first 20 years and the guidance from the FLK Directors. As we all continue to grow we look forward to more celebrations together.

We want to share some reflections from members to go with the wonderful images of this happy occasion.

“When you are experiencing an important event, you can feel it. Everything is a little different, everyone is a little different. The important thing for me is to be able to feel part of everything that is happening. In a way, it’s like merging with everything around you. You’re still there, but suddenly you have 99 more hearts.”

“It’s hard to find where to begin, it feels to me that the 20th celebration started happening many months before we even started the preparations…and probably before that time. Many actions were involved for the occasion to happen and underneath it all a silent thread bringing us together and teaching us how to work together, we have come out of this event as a stronger board, still with a lot to learn.”

“A weekend to commemorate being part of a bigger family right at our own place and feeling the care from beautiful details, like picturing a group of people getting together in another country and writing their best wishes on a card and then sending it to all of us because they understand that connection is important.”

“It was great to have been able to billet all who asked and help 17 members from other countries participate in tours before and after the programme to feel more of our beautiful country. So lovely to welcome them into the club Friday before the programme, share food, joining together to help with ongoing preparations and seeing them on their way afterwards on Monday, with all the little moments in between. Even the disgorging of the oil sump of a local host’s car, about to take their guest home, onto the freshly power washed reception floor late Friday night was taken in good spirits.”

“An overall sense of joy on Saturday morning as it was happening, all the things planned and prepared had their place and it was just time to enjoy the arts, to enjoy a transformational weekend with no beginning and no end.”

“During the programme it was very heartwarming to see the way Karen was offering help to different people. From Verny who had just participated in one class before the programme, working mostly seated due to previous ankle surgery, to Doris who received her corrections very enthusiastically, and many others who were touched in different ways. By being so available to everyone, it allowed people to feel connected throughout the weekend, especially for those who were experiencing their first international programme.”

“Most thankful to our program leader, Dr. Karen Laughlin, who gave us the experience of a balanced weekend, from whom we learnt how to explore quietness in motion and helped us reencounter the sense of elasticity in both body and mind.”

“Amazing to watch the tent go up outside the club for the banquet at 7am Sunday, before the workshop and then taken down at 11:30pm after most of our guests were safely in their accommodation– this was our best option to be sure of being able to return the tent! Then joining the servers for the late sitting whilst others helped washing up. A full and wonderful day.”

“At the reception, while the board members were greeting the guests as they came in, appetizers and drinks were being served, VIPs getting in touch with their table carers learning about who we are, there was also music! We hired a marimba band (traditional Costa Rican instrument) and it was amazing to see how the local members were proudly dancing to the sound of typical songs, and how their joy encouraged the guests from overseas to join. After the banquet, some Health Recovery class members shared during the class that they hadn’t moved like that in a long time!”

“Putting the Taoist arts more out there, in the hearts of community leaders takes us a step closer to making them available to as many people as we can. This was made possible by the effort of many members who were part of many tasks, helping their own soul to stay happier and connected.”

“It was a joy to see Liseth MC the programme during the evening and share her testimony, having made the delicious anniversary cake, celebrate and put the finishing touches with edible flowers during the afternoon. Just three years ago she was unable to move after 4 months in bed. Her elbows opened in just 20 minutes after being closed for 5 months. We worked together every day starting doing tai chi lying on the floor until strong enough to sit and within a year being able to go for a walk on her own.  A powerful testament to the arts Master Moy brought to us to share – one of many beautiful experiences we enjoyed sharing while celebrating our 20th anniversary.”

“As the MC for the banquet, it was very important to help our VIPs understand who we are and what we do, and to help them connect with us. After the Vice-Minister, mayors and the Governor of the local municipality gave their speeches, I knew hosting the event was going to be easy; they’re already in sync with what we do, as well as understand and value what we have to offer. This event helped them to get to know us personally, and helped us to understand that we have a lot more influential people in our communities who support us than we thought.

I also shared my testimonial that night, which was very touching, since the only way I could help at the first banquet I ever attended to, was to share my testimonial. My voice was cracking that night, and I shed some tears — luckily I wasn’t the only one! When you say certain things aloud, it feels like reliving those moments with every word that comes out. That’s why I think most of the times when I used to share my story I would cry. To me, the most important part about my testimonial is that beyond overcoming extreme physical challenges, I’ve been able to change thoughts and feelings that were so deeply rooted inside of me, I never thought they could be different, that I could be different. And I couldn’t have done it without first seeing it was possible. People are transparent, who you are is out there for everyone to witness and who you are can deeply inspire people. It doesn’t matter if you point to words on the walls, or if you practice the movements, if it doesn’t become who you are. In the Taoist Tai Chi Society I did find people who are cohesive and kind and genuinely open to help, people you can trust your life to, because when you only weigh 100 lbs and every joint of your body is inflamed, you really are trusting your life to your instructors.

And the things that I thought would last are fading. The feelings I used to have are changing. I didn’t cry when I shared my story this time.

And while all of that was going on, more than 40 members were working to make the banquet flow. That is what’s so great about banquets; everyone has a part to play, and are allowed to play it.”


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