Utmaning is the Swedish word for challenge and I decided to use it for today’s post because we productively discussed and worked with this key word in many different aspects during our training. Not only did we speak about challenges we faced during the year at work, in our free time, and at home, but also about the individual growth through facing and solving those. Additional we were able to take time to think about challenges that are laying in front of us regarding our future. On top of that, while presenting our projects, I mostly focused on Rapatac`s concept of challenging people in order to make them arise individually. So, this key word really represents my whole seminar experience quite well. But let`s start at the beginning!
Monday morning me and my roommates first went to Gävle and then to Stockholm’s area Bromma to meet the other participants for the midterm training. It`s crazy to write this phrase since it reminds me that now more than half of this year is over. Actually I already arrived 9 months ago in Sweden and 7 months ago we all met at the exact same Högskola for our first training. Nothing has changed, and still so much!
Something that hasn`t changed is the amount of delicious food we got during the days. As soon as we arrived we started our training with lunch – the food breaks are probably the most memorable times of the seminar, but of course that is fine with me. Because besides enjoying eating it is a great way to take time and talk with all the volunteers also from other projects from all over Sweden. This connection and exchange is probably the most important thing to take home from these days.
Besides food and fika breaks our first day of training was mostly focused on getting to know each other and each other’s projects and reflecting on cultural experiences and stereotypes. It was interesting to hear about all the different experiences and with that discuss Swedish culture. This made it possible to learn even more about different parts of the Scandinavian culture. At the end of the day we also had time to prepare our presentations for the next day, enjoyed an amazing dinner, and finished up this fun and social day on the balcony of our hotel with hot chocolate and good conversations.
The second day we started of course with breakfast and then with talking about our individual challenges we had to face within the year. Reflecting on these and sharing them within a small circle was super useful in order to get aware of our personal development and grow through the experiences. Other than that we also got time to focus on challenges laying in front of us. We had to think about the remaining months, how to deal with saying goodbye and coming home, and starting planning and organizing the time after. For me, all that feels so far away, since I just want to enjoy my time here, but being confronted with the topic made me realize it is actually something I need to bring attention to soon.
The largest part of the second day was reserved for introducing our projects, individual roles, and our lives as volunteers to the Swedish National Agency. Now, looking back to the seminar structure I realize that all those discussions about challenges and the time we had to think about our project, the concept, and our individual role in it, made us being prepared for this presentation. Because of that they were quite successful and a great learning for all of us. In the evening of this packed day we had some free time so some of us went first to the lake close by and later on a walk to the castle Drottningholm. That was a great ending of a wonderful day, also because the weather felt almost like summer!
Wednesday was already the last part of the training. After breakfast and checking out of the hotel we used the remaining hours to discuss mostly about how to get aware of the development we had throughout the year and how to use these new competences in our future. This will now be something we need to continue working on for the next months. Because having an evaluation of your individual growth and being aware of these strengths can help a lot for the future.
We ended the seminar with lunch and a short review about the previous days, what made me realize once again how useful those were. It`s not only about the lectures we had, but much more about the topic based exchange with the others. Also helps self-reflection to see where we stand right now and where we will go. It will help to improve how we are going to spend the last months within our project as well as the time after.
I am thankful to have had this opportunity of learning and connecting and I am excited for all the future volunteers that will be able to participate in those trainings! Every voluntary year is an individual challenge, in all different fields, but I can say, it is so worth it, because challenges make us grow!