I'm continuing the blog activities and the new blog, http://stepbystepdomination.blogspot.com, handles my endevours, adventures and reflections on getting out of unemployment. Maybe I'll see you there?
lördag 27 mars 2010
I think it is time for my last post concerning this week of european exchange. It has been a long week for me with eighteen hour days due to blogging each night. And yet if anyone would ask me to repeat it, I'd do it in a heartbeat. The week went fast, but thanks to this blog i'll be able to remember it for a very long time. I want to take this opportunity to thank Communicare and especially the hard work of Mathias Mellgren that made this seminar a reality and gave me and the other swedes an opportunity of a lifetime. I want to thank Klas Johansson for giving me the chance as it was through him I got the offer. And finally I want to thank the other swedes as well for a great job and an awesome teamwork.
What I thought then...
I was originally asked to participate in this seminar and do all the exercises and events and then put that in a sort of final report for Mathias and the others. I thought “well, it's going to give me a chance to see what Communicare is trying to do as an organisation and I'll get some practice on my English”. I basically treated it as a sort of reference to put on my CV as volunteer work.
What really happened...
When the actual seminar started, things changed. The discussions were very interesting, I really felt I cared, and I soon knew that I wouln't “just” put it on my CV as volunteer work.
I started meeting friends, got a lot of laughs, and since we spent all day talking about opinions, ideas and views, I felt I got to learn more about these people than I did my class in upper secondary school. And I went there for three years!
Soon I had a lot of friends that I talked to every day, and working was fun. I realised I really treated it as work, not just a happening. That means that I pour my heart into it, I take pride in what I do and I want the end result to be perfect. Doing blog posts at 2am or 3am wasn't a problem any more. Eighteen hour days felt like three hours, so I never understood why I felt tired some mornings.
Something else happened as well. I realised I have no fear what so ever talking to people or holding presentations. There is no ounce of fear left in me when I get on stage. I also learned that writing is still one of my greatest skills. Putting thoughts into words isn't something that I consider a process in writing these blogs, it just happens.
And then I started to get responses from the other participants and getting readers. This fact spurred me even more to keep doing my job. Sometimes I felt like saying “i'll finish it tomorrow, I'm to tired”. I decided to go and put some T-shirts in the cupboard, and I found my Nike shirt. It had the letters “Just do it” written on it.
Stuff like this motivated me to keep updating, knowing that people the next day were expecting me to have a new update so that they could follow the events. And I've managed to keep that flow, partly because Mathias has been awesome putting up the pictures each evening, giving me even more tools to make the blog as good as possible.
Note: That reminds me I'm going to go back and clear up the spelling errors I've made. It's like an itch that really need to be scratched, so that'll happen on Monday most likely.
On Thursday I got a call from a friend that wanted to talk about our plans for Easter. I was stunned. I realised that this week wouldn't be permanent. I also realised that my regular life had been forgotten for a full four days. The reality check gave the the incentive to start thinking about what I had learned and maybe try and use that for future employment possibilities, maybe try and land a job that gives me similar opportunities.
And then Friday came along. I had to say the word “goodbye” a lot. A lot more than I wanted to, to be sure. I vowed to myself that no matter what I would try hard and meet these people again and above all start seeing the world.
It ended as it should with dear friends sitting around a table chatting away laughing hard, spending the wee hours just enjoying the company.
So what has this week meant to me? The question is very simple, but the answer is not.
It's like sitting in the closet, with a small light as the only company, and suddenly a strong wind comes along and throws the door open and light flows in.
I realised my comfort zone. I like socializing with people, strangers or friends, doesn't matter. I like talking, argumentation, thinking, analysing and writing. I found out that I had an interest in trying to come up with solutions to a very real problem.
I've also met friends. Very dear friends, good friends. The European union just grew a little bit smaller for me and boring old Sweden will no longer be my limit.
I'm taking with me these facts and a strong motivation to make something out of it. On Monday I'm going to have a little chat with my coach and start forming a plan for how to best use these realisations.
If you'd ask me a week ago if I wanted to work with youth unemployment I'd probably say “No, I'm educated in web-development and that's what I want to do”. Today it'd most likely be “Yes!”. God, I love short answers!
1) Finish the blog (check files, put in some more links where needed, check for spelling)
3) Apply for work experience at Communicare (getting experience, developing the new set of skills I have found, finding new ones).
I was afraid that after this week i'd go back to my old boring day-to-day experience. But I realise that that's the same thing as giving up. I have grown tremendously this week, and I'm striving to grow even more. Sooner than you know you'll see me walking through the door and it will all be like we left yesterday.
Thank you all.
Jonas Peltomäki, firstname.lastname@example.org, Karlstad Sweden (for now).
fredag 26 mars 2010
Well, i can't quit now can i? blog time!
This particular blog entry is sponsored by the bulgarian team. The notes during the day was taken with the pen i recieved as a gift. Thank you!
Today we took the time summarizing the Open space events i mentioned yesterday. Since i talked about the groups i visited then, i will just add the groups i didnt have a chance to visit.
Fiona from Scotland had a group that talked about the Communicare Experience. The group's goal was to detail what Communicare had done for the participants that were present. It seemed that Fiona really got what she wanted out of it. I'll talk abit more about the Communicare way or try to at least later on here.
Next is none other than Mighty Mathias. His discussion was about EVS partnerships and the hopes that Sweden will be able to be very active in this area both sending and recieving. Key points are to try and cover the funding gaps and Sonic Boom will also try and start up an exchange activity (with some Fika, we hope!) with in her DJ tuition.
Tsvetina from Bulgaria had sadly gone home early but we managed to explain her group, New Project Ideas and Partnerfinding. they seemed to have discussed a 3.2 Multi action project. As only a participant in Communicare i have no idea what so ever what that is about, but i heard something about a nice idea about Choirs and EVS, whcih sounds really cool to me. Anything with music is awsome!
Another thing that was brought up was also the interest in having a Bank of Good Projects. Salto-Youth resource center was apparently a very good source of activities and methods to use for the purpose of building positive reactions in any of the eight key abilities.I will also try to motivate coaches in Communicare to maybe send their favourite method for different situations, and compile that into a pdf of some sorts and put it here for anyone to use.
Next is Oguz and His group, Health insurance and the comparance between countries. I got the impression that he got a good comparison between the countries in the group, they had spoken about the private hospitals and their very high prices for treatment, but also The Turkish Green Card application for poor or unemployed. Seems to work a bit like swedish health care but with an application to it.
And then Annibale brightens the room with his italian heart! and i realised that his concept of being a good citizen actually is a very good description of what Communicare is about. Not until now i realised that being a citizen is not a way to serve the society. its a way to feel like you belong in the society, meaning, fighting for the right to not be excluded from the community and the general society.
I think Annibale will be able to bring home alot of good things for italy and their youth. Best of luck to you!
Then Fatih enters the scene. his group actually talke about something interesting. It can be described in a very deep philosophical way, which i think is very cool.
Basically it was about how youths are excluded from society and specifically how the comunity look down on unemployed youths and say "you're no good, you have no experiance, and having no experiance is bad". But the goal of the group was to try and turn that around and find ways to get them to fuse with the community and society.
Here comes the philosophy: If a youth is a piece of paper, and you want to draw a picture, which is the easiest: to use a blank peice of paper or a paper that already ahs a picture on it?
What i mean is, if you have a youngster that has no experiance, he can be molded to suit the company perfectly, and still contribute, because that person is a fresh set of ideas for the company. if the same company would hire someone who already ahve alot of experiance, it will be alot harder and take more time to mold that person to follow the guidelines of the company. Time is money, and to work harder might require more resources, hence it would be more cost effective to take the youth with a blank sheet of paper and motivation to learn and be inovative.
In short what we need to do is to teach the youth that inexperiance is not a flaw, but a perk. Also maybe investigate the possibiliy to give some incentive to companies int eh private sector to hire the youth with less experiance.
Gizem's group talked about Education systems and the comparison betwen countries. The subject is somewhat special for me because i've always thought the swedish educational system is a bit skewed in a way. durig primary school and secondary school it's considered bad to question the teacher. you're just supposed to accept everything and follow where the wand points at. then, suddenly University arrives and now you're supposed to question every syllable he or she spouts.
To me this didn't work so well, since it took me a bit longer to break free of the mindless "teacher says, monkey do" mentality. I think that there should be a larger transitional period, maybe ahve teachers flex during secondary school to allow arguments to arrise, since arguments requires creative thinking and creative thinking puts emphasis on talking steps learning.
At this stage we weren't that active, mostly because we were tired. But Mathias had that covered as well, pulling out some ropes and giving us a challenge. i think the excersise taught people that a problem isn't always solved by complicated solutions, and that if you keep trying you will eventually find the solution.
Martin from Bulgaria arrives next and in his prescense we managed to describe his group as a discussion of how not only to start a buisness but also how to plan for funding and buisness plans. We are quite fortunate with a strong social security network, so basically its just "Go for it" and you really don't risk anything. The story i told about with Erik and his clothing buisness shows that, i think. In this aspect Sweden is very lucky.
Next up is Photini's group that discussed Exclusion & youth exchange to motivate people. Basically taking about connecting Socially and greografically separated youths, ie people that are either in a social bad situation, or a person that lives far from any town, excluding the chances for that person to develop key qualities. i totally agree as well. Youth today really need help with this, and just looking to myself and what i have done this week, a youth exchange is definatly a way to grow selfesteem, but alos learning that traveling just to the neighbouring municipality is easy, especially compared to traveling teh european union.
Peter Waara a professor at the Luleå university gave us a very nice lecture about the social model of how youth fit in with the views of how work and employment should work, countered only by the will of the youths and their drive to not stagnate in the same thoughts as their fathers. I will try and get his presentation up and running on this blog next to the other files, because i really liked it.
Basically now, the model is like this: on the top level, the officals decide what the goals for youths are, and then continues to decide what their methods should be,a nd then the last level is to check what qualities and qualifications the youngster has. the problem here is that experience or lack there of is almost always put forward, lowering any existing selfesteem, turning down any ideas that deviates on the previous level's methods.
This thought pattern is diminishing the youth's chances to enter the labour market severely.
The Communicare way, is just as easy as keeping the levels, but flipping the direction. here, you start at the indiviadual level, finding out what that person wants to do (striving to convince the officials) and start doing some exercises. the next step is to define the methods that will help the youngster to reach his goals. this period becomes a sort of Trial & Error period, where the youth gets a grip on himself or herself and finds out about their personality.
The final step is to convince the officials that this method of thinking and motivating the youth is a much better way, which in itself is hard of course, but should actually be easier. What reason does officials have to not listen to a method that has gone through so many trial & errors and still have a very high success rate?
This description is lacking of course, especially compared to Waara's fine presentation. Hope i can get the files.
At this point i actually had to leave the seminar, to drive the scots to Karlstads airport (the one without the fancy-pantsy name). The week's tight schedule and the tempo and activites had made me quite tired and i felt a little bit of it when i was at the airport.
But i was glad that i could take them. I got to give a proper goodbye to three beautiful personalities which i think will bring back alot of inspiration and new ideas to their bridges project. best of luck to you, and we will meet again, i promise. Scotland is my second home now.
The night's events were tired. The food was good as always. the personell at the resturant has been serving a very nice menu all week and i've been in ecstacy every lunch and dinner. I think i can get Annibale our italian to sign that one as well!
We started off singing a Bulgarian song translated to be called something about swimsuits and lost love... yeah you figure that one out! it later turned into listening to some hits of the week among others "Små grodorna".
in a way i think everyone was reallly tired after the week. it was a bit hard to get going and i tihnk everyone was thinking about the fact that the week was about to end. But as a gift from the heavens we got to dance som italian dances. Perfect timing and i know everyone had fun doing that!
After some more cultural exchanges in music, we headed for the hotel and sat in teh breakfast room all of us, drinking some wine that had been left over. This is where it got dangerous. A large group of tightly knitted individuals, tired, drinking wine started talkinga bout projects... Well, let's just say that "Fika" will never be the same again!
As a first closing comment i want to say "Good bye all of you, for now. We will meet again i'm sure and until then best of luck to you in your endevours to bring motivation and help to our young unemployed".
This concludes the Blog about the event. Ti Hope we can keep these images as a resource on facebook. Tomorrow comes my finalizing entry, where everything that has happened to me will be disclosed while drinking some fine italian wine and even more pictures will be used!
torsdag 25 mars 2010
Another day, another beautiful day. Sorry i had to leave the party a bit early, but rest asured, the greek wine i got with me will sustain me through this blog entry and then some (sorry Fiona, but i cant fool Jim on this one. The evidense are all over the crime scene. calling in a CSI team would be overkill).
I chose the Greek wine for tonight's blog entry, firstly because it was the first wine i recieved and the second reason is that they are leaving early, so i raise my glass and say "Yamas!" to you all and hope we meet again. I can also recommend bulgarian food. I have a taste for it and i like the smoked wursts and the cheese. Sad to see you go as well of course. I shall use your present for the friday's notes for this blog with varmth and fun memories.
Oh and i can recommend a good belly dancer that lives in bulgaria as well!
This day we've changed it up a bit and we used the Open Space method. For those that don't know what it is go here.
Before everything started we had like an hour in getting everything somewhat organized. i used this time totouch up some more on teh files for the blog.
The topics i went to were Unemployed Graduated Youth, with Patrizia from Italy as the group leader. Here we talked about the situations for graduates in diferent countries and the difficulties getting a job that is matched well with your education. Several countries had the situation where some actually got an education not because it's what they wanted, but it's what would give them a job.
Some common swedish issues is that after getting an education and realising you're not gonna get a job in that area, you re educate yourself in a Vocational school. That is finished in about one and a half years. By this time, the job market has changed and now you have two graduations that isn't giving you a job.
Some times we also run into the problem of being over educated. Employer don't want too much education because such a person costs to keep in teh company.
Some good solutions that were pointed out was that educations need a better communication with the labour market, but also that academic area of school needs to value some vocational parts of the education, and regard it close to the levels of how the labour market values work experience.
I myself agrees with this totally. i think that an increased discussion between education and labour market will improve students' chances to meet the employer's expectations. Not so much as to change what we learn, but more how we learn it. theoretical teachings is good at some levels, but in the end practical solutions is what is valued in the work force.
Next stop for me was a group with Jo talking about Transnational Music Projects. My background to such a progress that even tho i have moderate skills at playing guitar (i can't for the love of my life play a decent solo, i dont know scales, can't "shred" and i still can't mute properly) i'd want to attend a transnational youth exchange myself.
The Group started off as a brainstorm of ideas and my own practices with friends to send eachother some small pieces of music influenting eachother might actually work for such a project. In short:
A selected group of youths across europe who are willing to attend this event get to chat eachother up and form groups of varried musical backgrounds. one might be a rocker, another one a DJ, a third a techno composer, a third an opera student. the goal: to use the internet to start work on a production that focuses on fusing not only these styles (doesn't necessarily mean they need to mix the music itself, but instead use their gained techniques to produce something new) and most certainly with inspirations from their own cultures.
Myspace and other such medias can be used. to finalize this they are sent on the week long event and there they get to finally meet and they can finalize practice and finetune the work, and finish off with a gig.
The group realised that funding for such aproject wont be an easy task, but the will is there, and the skills to organize it as well. i'd definatly want to visit and blog about that!
After lunch (swedish thursday tradition of pea soup wth pork, and pancakes with jam and whipped cream) I took the time to finalize some file uploads on the blog, and i found one of many spelling errors. I think i will be sitting and fixing little errors on this blog for a good while after the week is over. All of this was entertained by soe beautiful Bulgarian folk dancing by Fiona from Scotland and Maria from Bulgaria. With that amount of talent i woudn't want to switch my working environment with anyone even if it killed me!
What was interresting was the rythm of the bulgarian folk dance. it had some resemblance to some of our folkdancing and also the foxtrot (if i rmember my primary school's PE dance teacher correctly).
Next up: Motivating young people, sharing tools and experiance with Natalie. An interresting fact was that almost everyone had something positive to say about the technique of roleplaying in motivating youth. The only info i could bring to the table was my experiance with traditional ropleplaying (as in a group of geeks sitting around a table using different types of dice, a sheet of paper, loud arguements and wide gestures, and in the end some dragon dies. Oh and there's always a decent stack of overpriced, well produced books that noone needs to open, because they'er geeky enough to already know everything in the books).
I think that what we reached as a conclusion, is that role playing helps youth realise what it means to listen to another person's opinon. two youngsters taking turns roleplaying as an employer will make them try and think as an employer and thus better accept the views and arguments. Switching places actually leads to and understanding of how the other one thinks by seeing how this person tackles a difficult question.
Another discussion floated along and that was the talk about icons and role models and the value of having role models that actually speaks for education. Even tho our (sort of) famous actor Dolph Lundgren, recently seen leading the swedish eurovision contest, actually completed a masters degree in chemical engineering before going full time into acting.
Above all i think that roleplaying actually contributes into building self-esteem in youngsters, even if you don't focus it on work related themes.
My last group was to help build a better picture of youth in Sweden, called Swedish lifestyle. I hope they got as complete a picture as tehy liked. It was good practice too because it's har dot put a lifestyle into words, especially in under an hour!.
On to the grand finale! The intercultural exchange night! this was fantastic all countries participating brought typical food from their country. All in all it was eight countries, and i constantly ate food going two and a half laps around europe. i half expected that that food wouldnät be enough but i was wrong. i got so stuffed i still have a bloated belly typing this!
Fantastic food, fantastic people and good sportsmanship when we introduced "Innebandy" aka Floorball. when i say good sportsmanship i mean that the contenders moved the goals tackled and generally did anything to produce a goal. Basically we were entertained by a very tight European Championship in Floorball.
As i was driving and always trying to follow the principle don't drink and drive, we managed to use some bottles of Bru that had been emptied to actually sneak me some greek and italian wine home. i also recieved some handpicked oregano from the greeks, which will have great value to me, since i like to cook very much. I enjoyed all the food, and i thought i liked teh Thai way of preparing octopus but the greek way had a very fresh taste to it. I fell in love with it instantly.
It was of course very interresting to see how the people reacted to some of the swedish food and candy. Mixed reception i'd say! I don't think i can describe it all unless i skip this little details called sleeping. i'll add some more images just to show you what you missed by not being here.
onsdag 24 mars 2010
After some tinkering for an hour or two i got the files working! started to put up some of the links and i'll finish them as i get the files and get a chance to upload them. the goal is that on saturday everything will be picture perfect!
Actually this is not all true. The events after dinner was so full of energy that i couldn't focus on tampering with the blog just yet, so i cultivated some more music. I also found some tutorials on youtube how to count in different languages, which took a bit too much of my time. Saying "2000" in greek is a tongue tie!
This morning i wasn't the most energetic in the hall but my spirit was high. The day starts off with Greece introducing their Good examples of success helping youth getting employment.
The first item was Culturepolis, which to me seemed to be about merging rural identities and "modern" or metropolitan identities without destroying the identities, ie getting youngsters that has grown up in metropolitan areas to get a better understanding for the rural traditions and culture. In some countries this might be a small thing, but Greece seem to be in a situation where there actually is a vast differance between these two areas.
Further they presented work with the European Music Day. This was the first time i had heard of this day, and with my music interest i liked the idea. they talked about the specific case of a man named George Bellos who attended this music day and a bar owner actually signed a contract after his performances to work in the bar for the rest of the season.
What inspired me was the amount of time it seemed to take with the youngsters. Four years is a long time with Communicare standards, but we have to remember that the youth attending communicare more often than not already have some ideas and above all a motivation to get someting going. Bridges project apparently doesn't have this luxury and how they're not feeling a sense of hopelessness is beyond me. Tremendous efforts.
Turkey is up next and starts off speaking about Yildiz Technical university of istanbul. Their scheme is about having a good relationship with 85 other countries and their technical universities and they perform an exchange of students to teach youths about the labour markets in different countries and the goal is for the exchange to lead to internship.
With a little shift in personell we get another presentation, this time about Yildiz buissness & education Coaching. We were shown efforts to help students to countries all over the world, getting an opportunity to study in a foreign country and then finishing off their studies back in Istanbul, with the goals to head back out and maybe get a job. the example was of a student going to Germany for a period of his studies, returning to Istanbul just to finish his graduation and then aiming to go back to Germany and getting a more permanent installation there.
Since Solidarity Center of the Third Sector started in 2004 they managed to expand from helping citizens to be more active in their citizenships and social responsabilities, to including youth unemployment in 2008.
We see that Italy's organisation is a young one, but that gives them an even bigger opportunity to take something home with them during this week, and i hope they get every chance at finding good examples of methods to use.
After this we had the local newspaper Nya wermlandstidningen (NWT) on a visit, and we held a short presentation of each participant and what we represented. After a brief interruption labeled "today's entertainment" by Mathias Mellgren could be diplomatically described as a local sitting in on the event and suddenly venting his oppinion. We're reminded that the hall we are in usually is used for the municipality meetings that sometimes are held with doors open to the public.
From the short presentations from each of the participants i suddenly noticed a change in how people described why they were there. Almost everyone said they'd seen new posibilities of partnerships and ways or methods to further help their own groups and projects. As little as two and a half day gave results.
In between me taking breaks in this unusually long post, i'm getting swamped in friend invites from facebook. It has motivated me to try and finish this entry as soon as possible tonight, so i can start fresh tomorrow!
next is Bulgaria. I noticed how they tried to tie their projects with themes, either environmental themes or for example the Traffic saftey project originating from a seminar in UK. I got the notion that they did a good work bringing themes of seminars back to Bulgaria and converting it into a project for the youth. I think this helps to bring focus for both the youths and the people that arrange the project and gives the youth a common topic to develop their social skills around.
Later i find out that these good examples presentations has lead to at least some discussions about partnerships. Every long journey starts with a tiny single step.
Swedish National board of Youth Affairs. The link is for their website but with their english content. Not all their content is tranlated but much of their downloadable content are translated.
Pontus Ekstam gives us a very thorough and well done presentation. It was a long one, but i never really felt like it was too long. the presentation was calle d"Working on work" and is added here in our file section.
I'm gonna let you read that presentation because it is very well made and describes the Swedish stand in the European union's goals with youth unemployment. I got the impression of a strong stand and a will to drive the goals home. We got the press release info about Berosso's Lisabon stratergy for 2010 and that it had been re-evaluated and conveted into a new stratergy for 2020. The presentations also contain useful links where needed.
I liked the move to present three tips to get projects granted:
1) Read and understand the programme guide.
2) Don't do it yourself, involve others.
3) Focus on the objectives and priorities of the project.
Pontus wouldn't go as far as to stake his honour on the press release that told us that in the year 2010-2011 the first goal of sweden might be Youth unemployment, but he was really hoping for this to be the case as it would make some seriously interresting times.
The final presentation of good examples today was Poland. The info that caght me on the hook was the focus on developing major social skills with youths from europe (in this case swedish youths) in social projects where management, economics of the projects. As with Bulgaria we were shown how the projects for youths were themed and here they'd chose to involve the society around the project. One example was a theme about dogs. The neighbours where invited to visit the project and bring their dogs to make an even where not only the youths learned something.
I think it's important that the society around us are getting information about the youth unemployment because i think this problem can be tackled both by encouraging youths to take a chance but also informing employers and maybe the employers will give our youth a shot.
Just by name alone i liked the project "One Beer... One life". Explanation excluded.
After that we prepared the topics for open space on thursday.
After that we prepared the topics for open space on thursday.
Oh, and i have a requested entry: "Jim, i want to make a note that even tho Fiona had a cold she impress us all with her diligence and fervor in participating in the seminar".
Some how i think that last part won't have the effect originally intended...
here endeth the day, at 0100 hours. Captain Kirk, signing off.