The on-arrival seminar is an amazing experience. Normally, at least. Volunteers from all around Germany (or the country you are volunteering in) gather in one randomly selected city in the same country and spend around a week there. What do they do for one week? Exchange opinions and impressions about their projects and ESC in general, do amusing activities and, mostly, get to know each either, make new friends from all around the country they just moved in. Sounds good? Of course, it does. From the people I know, and they already had their EFTs, I heard nothing but good words and how great experience it was.
What happens now, though, that most of the countries are facing either strict or lax lockdowns?
The EFT isn't possible to happen anymore. But, no wait, we can make it online. Most of the seminars, meetings, trainings, presentations are nowadays an online thing. So, why not? Better than nothing.
So, EFT is now online, a ZOOM meeting like all the other ZOOM meetings that you have attended before.
And here comes a challenge, for the trainers. How could this training still remain interesting and avoid getting too tiring through the screen?
That's a big deal challenge, considering that the trainings last around seven hours (with breaks, don't freak out).
So, let's see how it would be possible for all of us to survive this week-long "home office".
Step one, the EFT starts in the morning, so if you're not a morning persons, like me, let's try to create a positive atmosphere by grabbing a cup of coffee or tea and sat in front of the desk in your comfy sweaters and listen to your favorite song.
In my EFT, one of the trainers had this great idea to play our favorite songs (the ones that we had sent to him earlier by e-mail), and everyone in the ZOOM room was trying to guest whose the favorite song this is. After listening to 3 or 4 songs daily, I confirm that we were in a good mood, the day started in a good way.
Step two, if not suggested by the trainers, you can propose to create a WhatsApp group for the EFT participants, where you can share impressions, pictures, asking questions, or other stuff (like "can't wait for the break").
Step three, be open, positive, social. Remember, the other participants are in the same awkward situation of having to deal with 15 strangers through a screen every day. Probably as disenchanted as you are. If you think it through, this is maybe not the best, but still it’s a good way -considering this strange period of time- to meet new people and to listen to their experiences so far. Besides, don't forget that all of these people are not there by chance, they are in the same position as you; just moved to a new country, they are (probably) struggling with the language, they have to adapt to a new social and working environment like you do. It is worth it to let this digital awkwardness aside for a bit and get to know these people who are in the same situation as you.
Step four, give feedback to the trainers. They need it and you need it too. If something dissatisfies you or makes you feel uncomfortable, if you find some activities pointless or you think that they cause tiredness, just share these thoughts after the sessions with them. If you find something interesting and amusing, again, give the feedback, so the trainers know that they should keep activities like this. If you have something to suggest, some idea came to your mind about the activities, the talks, the energizers, share it, it can only improve your experience during this online seminar.
Step five, take advantage of the EFT. EFT is the perfect place and time to solve all of your questions about ESC. Are you a bit lost and the whole ESC project feels chaotic to you (like "what am I even doing here?")? Or are there some things which are not that clear to you (like "how does my CIGNA insurance work?", "Omg how does this whole recycling system works in Germany?")?
During your seminar is the best moment for you to find out answers, by discussing with the other participants, the trainers and the other guests (national agency for example) that might come to your training to offer some help, to guide you and of course support you in this new beginning.
Extra tip, after the seminar or during the lunch break take a short walk around, get some fresh air. That many hours in front of the screen can be exhasuting.
Hope that these few tips can improve your online on-arrival training and that you will get some good stuff out of it, a question solved, a friendship, a good time.
! But let's don't forget about the Mid-Seminar which is on the way and hope it will take place under normal circumstances.