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ISKCON News | GBC College Welcomes Students from Nine Countries to Latest Zonal Supervisor Training

(iskconnews.org) – The GBC College for Leadership Development has recently begun its next Zonal Supervisor Training course that includes thirty leaders from nine different countries worldwide.

The GBC College has successfully offered this training fifteen times worldwide in different languages since 2015. It aims to train candidates to become zonal supervisors who will assist their local GBC in managing their zone. Each candidate is hand-picked by their GBC and carefully vetted by the GBC College Admissions Committee. This is the eighth group of international students that has undertaken this comprehensive training course in English. Since participants are joining worldwide, most of the coursework is completed online. But the learning is also rooted in local “real world” experience, so the GBC College integrates active learning projects into the curriculum where candidates work with teams to develop strategies for a local need. Finally, a residential requirement will be held in Ujjain, India, in 2024.

The five primary course modules of the training include spiritual excellence, personal effectiveness, relationship effectiveness, organizational effectiveness, and compliance and administrative effectiveness.

Spiritual excellence covers such topics as personal sadhana, being “Prabhupada-anugas,” and Vaishnava sadachar. “Srila Prabhupada emphasized to Giriraja Swami, ‘organization and intelligence’ if ISKCON were to go on after his departure, and to Tamala Krishna Goswami, he underscored the need for ‘chanting and follow[ing] the rules’ to ‘get management at our finger-ends,’” said Rupanuga Das, President of the GBC College. Following the advice of our Founder-Acarya, GBC College offers a module in spiritual excellence which serves as the foundation for the other modules. 

Personal effectiveness explores time management, meeting management, and establishing a healthy service-life balance. The relationship effectiveness module offers a broad range of skill development, including reflective listening, conscious leadership, and conflict resolution. Some topics of instruction for organizational effectiveness are temple administration, fundraising, marketing, book distribution programs, and strategic planning. “The personal effectiveness module fosters the ability to listen with curiosity, speak with honesty, and act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to respond.  Listening skills are crucial for leaders; they build trust, create transparency, and foster loyalty to the movement,” said Govinda Priya Devi Dasi, Vice President of the GBC College.

Compliance and administrative effectiveness includes themes like understanding ISKCON law, ethical finance and accounting practices, and child protection. “GBC College students complete a 14 hours online course on Child Protection. Comprehension is confirmed through quizzes, case studies, and a short essay based on the history of child abuse in ISKCON. This specialized training was designed by Champaklata prabhu, former CPO International Director, and Lilasuka Dasi, who currently serves as the Director for CPO in North America. “The themes covered include increasing the participants’ understanding and knowledge of various forms of child abuse, the importance of implementing child protection practices, ways to prevent child abuse, and establishing a local child protection team to respond to allegations or cases of child abuse,” said Govinda Priya.

Madana-gopala Dasa, who graduated from the training in 2020, said, “I have had the good fortune of applying these skills over the last three years at a number of temples as their Zonal Supervisor, and I’m always learning something new from the leaders at these temples,” he continued, The amount of learning and application in the GBC College course is incredible, and it has been crafted by Srila Prabhupada disciples and other senior leaders of ISKCON based on the direct teachings and examples of Srila Prabhupada as he was building out his movement and vision.” 

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