While the Swedish west coast was catching such beloved sunny warmth in the beginning of August, the small island of Vrångö, southern-most island in the Gothenburg archipelago, was hosting a truly unusual event.
The international training course “Communication for NGOs”took place from the 3rd to 11th of August and brought together 24 social enthusiasts from six countries. The course was dedicated to the issue of communication for non-profit organizations.
Participants were representatives of small or newly-created organizations which work with youth, volunteering and international cooperation. During eight days, they explored the role of communication in personal and professional life, its influence on the successful implementation of international projects, and the daily work of non-profit organizations.
Among participating NGOs were a student association from Spain, educational centres from Ukraine and Croatia, a charity organization and cooperative for people with special needs from Italy, and a volunteer center from Moldova.
The idea of this training course was born from the desire to bring SI academic cooperation and friendship outside of the university campus. I also wanted to accumulate and apply many things that I learned and found interesting during my scholarship period.
Struggling to find a job after graduation, my SI friend and classmate Annisa Primalia Nanda and I decided to “turn frustration into inspiration”, and together we started Newality, a non-profit organization that aims to spread cooperation and mutual understanding around the world.
At the moment, the organization is focused on running training courses, workshops and youth exchanges for active people from different countries. The training course “Communication for NGOs”was our first project.
The event was intended to be as practical as possible. To design a week of education activities that would be truly interesting for 24 different people was a challenge. But we did it!
During the training course, participants extended their knowledge in such areas as conflict management, negotiations, basics of web-design and video-production, and social advertising. They also shared their own experiences in youth work, told of their achievements, and discussed the obstacles of third sector development in their countries.
The non-formal education approach did not prevent the development of serious discussions. Starting morning sessions every day at 9 am, participants took part in lectures, exercises, group brainstorming, and creative presentations. The picturesque landscapes of of Vrångö island became our classroom.
Sometimes all that is needed is a blank paper, a pen, fresh air, and tasty Swedish coffee to build a new communication approach or to design a new project. And that’s what participants did! Overall, the atmosphere of intellectual enrichment encouraged some participants to strive for even more learning.
“Some of the workshops could be even more extensive, even up to the whole day long!” Participant, Croatia
The course placed strong emphasis on informal networking and personal relationship development. That’s why we ran a lot of team-building activities such as an island quest, an intercultural evening where every national team could present their country, a story-telling evening which turned into night of piano improvisations, and every-day energizing sport games.
Another place for new friendships establishment was…the kitchen! Every day, mixed teams of participants prepared a dinner for the entire group. The task, which seemed impossible in the beginning, created many positive emotions and memories for everyone.
Despite the busy programme, training participants also got the chance to become acquainted with the city of Gothenburg, and even do some shopping in their free time!
“I liked everything: atmosphere, the accommodation, the food, the tools we used, the free time and the attention that we got from trainers”
Many participants left the training with concrete plans for the implementation of obtained knowledge in their NGOs.
For others, this event became a chance to learn more about themselves and to open new perspectives in the future.
“I want to use information about making web-pages in my school”
“I will try to improve my communication with parents and sister”
“This will be useful for my thesis”
“I think we can try to build a new inner communication strategy in our association”
“I learned even more from just talking to other participants! They inspired me a lot in a way…”
That was just a small part of feedback that we received.
It’s worth noting that the training course would not be possible without other NFGL members. The head of Gothenburg local network, Artem Gumeniuk, led two intense and interactive workshops about anxiety management and non-verbal communication, revealing the secrets of successful public interaction.
SI alum Pavel Rodin, who is a currently a Doctoral student at the department of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Gothenburg, also gave a hand and provided a highly informative workshop on crisis communication.
The training course was financed by the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society within the program Erasmus+. Although EC program Erasmus+ is most known by its possibility to spend a semester abroad, it is much more than that, bringing together seven existing EU programs that support work in the transnational partnership and share innovative practices in the fields of education, training, and youth.
Last but not least, we have to say we enjoyed it. Everything was appealing in this experience: the creative process of writing the application, meeting new people and seeing their perspectives towards youth work, endless night conversations at the harbour of beautiful Vrångö, professional and dynamic workshops, and the happiness to witness the birth of new ideas and cooperation.
Therefore, I think we will continue with our programme.
Text: Natasha Dmytrenko
Photos: Annisa Primalia Nanda, Artem Gumeniuk, Emanuel Carrasco Lo Russo, Stefano Tincani