Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Meanwhile, in the camp

Meanwhile, before packing the office for moving to Stockholm, we had the Active summercamp in Fredrikstad, Norway. As everyone was there, I'm not going to write a long introduction, but describing what the volunteers did (and what I liked doing):

Our preparations began before the event, in Örebro, thinking out performances, making costumes by Janika, taking stuff etc. On the spot, we started by compiling the anti-tobacco boardgame boxes. First days there was the Active Congress and we assisted with coffee breaks and technical stuff.

Hope that the outcome of the Congress was successful. It was interesting to listen and watch, but on some point - when it was discussed what we are going to eat next time - I made a calculation, if there is a congress every two years, then there are 5 congresses in 10 years. The congress lasted about three days. So it means total of 15 days in 10 years. And if, say, half of it is spent on minor details and technicalities, is it really 7 days in 10 years to discuss the important issues by all the people who fly there and back 5 times? Hope I'm wrong :)

Just to clear it up, it wasn't all about the food, that was just one small episode what made me thinking. And the girl who brought it up, she shouldn't give up, but maybe she can realize it not as an "inner circle"-thing about our own private eating habits but as a public project about animal rights what Active can support. In my opinion, if it's good, why not.

Besides the congress we had the Board performance, directed by Sanja, and our Office performance, what we were scared of... but managed to complete. At least it was very funny to do for us :P Also there was the All Rights project meeting for 2 days, and meanwhile Janika was busy with different tasks, making the video + waking for 7:30 to assist the team with the breakfast arrangements. In the end we had the Active shop and carrying the tables.

On the downside, by the end of the camp, I have an impression that other people's work is not always valued.

For example, if we had set up our outlets, someone dropped random stuff for their performance on the table on our shop items. Without saying anything. And as we were standing on the chairs and hanging up sign for Active shop, behind us the beamer was started and directed to us with presentation for some next performance. Without saying anything. As we were invisible, only people's own goal mattered. There were more examples.

Seem as small things, cultural difference maybe, but for me these are examples of egoistic behaviour, even if people themselves doesn't notice it. So from my point of view, Active people are doing well on alcohol issues but the peace and friendship parts can be improved.

Anyway, the camp itself was good, and thanks to the organisers because it's never easy to make something of this size to happen and satisfy all the tastes and needs of people of such different backgrounds.

Generally, it was good to see all the people, people who you have just talked over the internet, people you have heard of, old and new friends. Hope to be on the next camps in Latvia and Iceland. And then I'll have more time to meet the people and not so tired :)


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Dear Alena, Tadas and Eliina!

In the summercamp I felt like I am giving the reins to the next volunteer crew in the office. So this is my letter to you.

There's 6 days left to work in the Active office and I will leave Sweden at least for some time. So what would I like to say to you?

First. Work in Active office does not equal with Active summercamp through all the year. It's work and it's office. Of course in more tolerant and friendly surrounding than usually, doing the things that you used to do in your free time before. That's why it feels great.

It is very important to set your goals for the year and to keep them in a visible place. You have the opportunity to do much and to make a change - fresh new ideas are always needed. So think for a while, why did you come and prioritise the things that you want to prioritise. It could be writing an extra project on the topic you like, working with some region you want or having your own campaign. Volunteer can do as much as volunteer is capable to do. You should do something that you would be proud of in the end of the year. The plan is needed, because it is very easy to fall into the routine, to be comfortabe and to do only the things that are needed to do.

Then a second can live in Stockholm - that means a lot of different opportunities to spend your spare time - they even teach Swahili language there for example. Take most of it (not from Swahili, but Stockholm).

One thing that you need, is patience. Even if it seems that Active people are communicating in facebook really much, you will definitly end up waiting for emails that you need answers to and for the end of the year you would do rather anything, but emailing. If you actually meet the people with who you are doing your project, you want to do everything with them and you definitly do not say a sentence "you can send it by email or we can discuss it via email". I know it sounds strange now, but you will see. It's one of the most annoying things  to wait for an email from what your work is depending from.

What you will definitely learn, is how to set goals, make a plan, motivate yourself and to actually finish the planned thing. This kind of work teaches you loads of self dicipline, as you can plan your work time on your own, as well as the activities after work will be new for you. You get more realistic view to the life and will definitly have more control over your life in the end of the year.

A lot of things seem to be more simple and possible.
A year abroad is not always easy and it is never what you expect from it to be.
So go for it!


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Getting ready and excited

It is 22nd of July today and Active's Congress and Camp will start on 31st.
We have been having a lot of meetings lately, some of them were long and serious, others short and funny, most of them were very creative but all of them had the same topic - Congress, camp and celebration(3C)!
As you all know, I guess, Active will be celebrating it's 20th anniversary on this year's Congress. The celebration will take place on 2nd of August.
It is very interesting that 02nd of August is also celebration day for my country. In 1903 they had the Ilinden Uprising on 02nd of August and that was the day when Macedonia was liberated from the Ottoman Empire. So this is a day of celebration because the brave people stood up for themselves and fought for their lifes in order to have a free country.
When I see it this way, it actually reminds me on Active. On this day, 20 years ago, some brave people gethered and decided to stand up for their ideas, to fight for their rights by creating an organization which will be different and will offer possibilities for more people to choose how to live their life.

So YES, we will have a fancy celebration. Imortant people will be part of it, such as Robert Medelin (former DG Sanco), Tamsin Rose (public health lobbyist) and a lot of former presidents, board members, members of Active/EGTYF that together with all of our Congerss and Camp participants will express the meaning of Active.

We are getting very excited in the office about the following 3C week. Today we were printing the Congress voting cards, using 2 laminating machines, which both were very hungry so they ate our paper. But tomorrow we will finish them and it is very nice that we hear the word "finished" very often now.. since our tasks for the 3C week are finishing.. =)
But that also means that my life here in Örebro and work in the office is finished. I will leave right after the 3C week. =( It is still very hard to believe!!!
That also means that Active's time in the office in Örebro is also finished. But it will start again in a very nice place in Stockholm. =)
That also means that whatever we do, will be finished in some time... so we should use the best out of it and enjoy in every moment.
I think I am and I hope you are too!

Lot of hugs,

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Örebro in summer

As the office is on holidays for this week, the weather is very warm and fine in Örebro, so meanwhile you can watch some "tourist pictures" - how our hometown looked like in one evening :)

LOT of bicycles everywhere, we also have our work-ones.

Kind of central square, growded by people daytime.

Tourists, and the castle - it's kind of the main symbol of Örebro, used on postcards, T-shirts etc.

Nice small waterfalls, my personal favorites :)

In the background, a statue of some old Swedish king. Yes, Sweden is a kingdom.

Some non-environmental stuff floating in the river.

Bridges, boats, parks and water everywhere.

Monument for the guy with cassete-player.

Museum part of town, they sell souvenirs, books etc there. Also openair-events are held next to it.

Our home-shop :)


Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The last "Swedish course"

After 15 years of non-stop school times I could not even imagine that I would enjoy studying. That's why I made a break. So, when I came to Sweden, I could not imagine that one of my favorite things here (next to the football trainings of course) could be sitting in the class and learning Swedish. The more suprising is that I have actually learnt some.

The classes were interesting due to very interational group that we had, people from Australia, Russia, South Africa and so on and also the teacher was from Brazil.

So, on Saturday we had our last meeting at the caffe owned by one of the students, Valda and we were having good time with the Swedish language...

My and Sanja's life is much more emptier without the class. On Monday we were already missing the homework:)


Thursday, 17 June 2010

Central station for EVS in Active

Since I was actively encouraged to blog about EVS, I will give it a try.
I was an EVS volunteer myself in 2004/2005 so I guess I know how it feels to volunteer in Active office. Since then - I have experienced 19 volunteers in Active office and we are going to welcome 3 more from September 2010.

How does it look like to be mentor for the volunteers?

First, they arrive and they know very little about Active office work, about the town and the life here. We go through Active's basic idea so we all know what we are working for, we are getting used to each other, the volunteers are usually "thrown to water" to learn how to swim by writing some application for a seminar or a campaign. The first days may look pretty empty or like "too little to do", but with the deadlines for applications - everything starts rolling. Seminars, reports, buying tickets, coordinating arrivals, departures, helping with visa, writing some more applications, going to Active seminars, meeting our members. That's what we do. And the time flows and all of a sudden I look into the callendar and I see that there is only two months left with these people who were strangers (most of the time) to me and then became collegues, we've found the ways to work together, to talk, to joke (or not) about certain things, to trust each other in work, to count on each other. And then they leave (most of the time) the town and go their way. Sometimes still involved in Active and sometimes not caring for Active at all.

I will not reveal anythinig new by writing that each volunteer is very different from the others. There is no template. And that is why there is no template for dealing with them either.

Some people like to come to the office early, some prefer sleeping longer in the mornings and work long in the evening, some love writnig projects, some prefer reading information for Newsletter, some like getting very clear instructions and detailed orders, some like getting just a first spark and then they do their thing. Some are here for the social part of the organisation, some come for being in Sweden and some want to fight for what Active believes in. And of course - all the combinations of the three.

It's very rarely easy to say bye bye. The only part that makes it a bit easier is knowing that there will be new volunteers coming. Full of ideas. Full of expectations. Full of motivation. And that I have the responsibility and honour to introduce them into this work and world and make it interesting for them. At the same time, it is up to each and everyone what they will take from here and how they experience the time in our office.

I learn every year. From some I learn to "take it easy", from some I learn structure, from some I learn about other countries, from some I learn how to go for one's dreams, from some I learn to reflect on things I have never been thinking of and from all of them I learn about relations between poeple.

To host EVS volunteers is incredibly enriching experience that gives me a lot in life. And the memories carry me further.

And I think I will blog here more often bringing some more concrete examples of our life here. If the volunteers let me in of course ;-)


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Black sheep has started rolling

YES, finally our new campaign in Active has had it's first activity. This weekend (10th - 14th June) we had the first Black sheep seminar!
8 people from 8 different European countries came in the Active office in Örebro on thursday. Some of them made it on time, others missed some trains, but at the end of the day everyone was happy to be here and to talk with the old Active friends.

The seminar started on friday where we had a guest lecturer - Helena Wannberg to tell us something about Alcohol in families.

After that Maik Duennbier had the rest of the day to talk about the Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention of the Right of the Child and it's connection to alcohol issues.

Since we had a hard working day, we went to the famous Active restorant - Karishma and had a nice and spicy dinner, that was followed by a long talking walk for some people and watching a football match infront of the TV for others.

The next day was very interesting. We had our sessions together with 30 people from UNF, so we got a lot of information about their project FAKE FREE and talked a lot about the impression of alcohol, people's expectations and reactions about it. In the afternoon we had a nice walk in the town with the intention to notice how big is the media influence of alcohol around us, and the conclusion was that only for a 15 min walk, we had a lot of materials.
The rest of the day was covered by our guest lecturers Linnea Forsberg, talking about the project "Skåll for barnen" and Anja Karinsdotter, presenting the project "Vit Jul". A variety of ideas were flowing in our heads, so we decided, in order to keep the creativity alive and the energy visable, we will have Olympic games in the evening. =)
Me and Anja were leading the "show" and we divided all participants, considering the place they come from, in 5 groups from 5 different regions in the world (Europe 1, Europe 2, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Sweden). They all had to invent a game that will present their region, so we had 5 teams that were competing in playng 5 different games. It was very exciting, the team spirit was all around, we were surrounded by a lot of energy and weird looks from the people that were passing by us. But we didn't care, we had fun!
I can only say that night was looooong, especially for the domino players who ended their game around 03:30h in the morning.

Just like that, the last working day had come. On the agenda we had to do a lot of work focused only on our Black sheep activities in future, but we had to add some more materials, so we worked, and talked, and planed, but it wasn't enough. We had lunch on the roof of our building, and than again, discussions and ideas all around, but nope, still not enough. We had dinner out in a nice restorant that we couldn't decide if it was greek or turkish... untill at the end the people that worked there told us it was 60% turkish and 40% greek.. =) So after the dinner and a lot of laughs, jokes and information about the incredibly smart boy Marco from Macedonia, we ended up in the office again, where we worked untill 00:00h. Yes, it was midnight, and we still had the laptops opened, trying to get the google wave right, a lot of creative names and slogans were written all around the white board, while others were trying to make some pictures on the wall, from the light of the projektor. It looked something like this...

But that is all part of our connection to Active. Eventhough we were exhausted at the end, we stayed until the morning, talking, watching movies, laughing and saying "Good bye and see you soon in Norway". It was a weekend to remember. Seing the motivation of this great group of people to work together, to make some change for the world they live in was amazing. I can't wait to go to our next meeting in Norway and to follow every activity that will be organised under the name of Black sheep campaign! =)