Hospitality Skills Development

In my book ‘An Improbable Feast’ I explored how hospitality became the unifying and informing practice of Oasis.

An understanding of hospitality informs every aspect of the relationship of Oasis with the University, the wider community, the use of the Oasis itself as a centre, how conversations and relationships are initiated by members of the Oasis team with students and staff, and also within the team itself, and how discernment is exercised among those seeking support at Oasis.

Oasis fosters health and well-being by informal, social means through the practice of hospitality, complementing the University’s Health and Counselling Service which fosters health and well-being by formal means through the practice of therapeutic intervention.

In the development of Oasis this year, the Oasis team has identified elements within the process of offering hospitality.

Now the question arises, how might the skills needed to accomplish each of these elements be developed and sharpened?

I suggest for discussion:

1. The motivation and attitude of the team member
The voluntary nature of the Oasis enterprise assures that team members are more likely than not to be motivated toward contributing to the achievement of the vision of Oasis in an attitude of service. However, the question of whose needs are being met and how, requires constant interrogation.

2. Information and practice
The directions and fortunes of the university contextualize Oasis.
Fundamental changes challenge the whole university enterprise. For example:

If the prophet above is anywhere near the mark, and I suspect he is, and universities become less and less places people go to get information in order to buy credentials for employment then the role of an Oasis on campus becomes called into question; and credentialing pastoral care through traditional processes may also need to be reconsidered within this conversation.

It would be possible, for example, for Oasis to create a MOOC in pastoral care aimed at a national constituency in the first instance, to provide information and quizzes that generate cognitive understanding. Responsive learning, through conversation, might take place face-to-face in regional centres, and those with the wisdom go to them to provide foci for encouragement and practice. These encounters might create small communities of ongoing reflective learning and support.
The role of credentialing might become the concern of professional bodies in partnership with MOOC providers and the institutions and employers in which such credentialed persons operate.

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