How Gävle Local Network overcame issues by thinking outside the box

Aala Elsafei, board member of SI NFGL Local Network Gävle, explains how her network overcomes challenges when planning events.

How Gävle Local Network overcame issues by thinking outside the box
Photo: Aala Elsafei, board member of SI NFGL Local Network Gävle

The goal of SI NFGL Local Networks is to arrange as many activities and events as possible. But sometimes external and internal factors hinder the networks from accomplishing this task.

Here in Gävle, our limited budget has been the main reason for not being able to organise SI activities we had in mind such as arranging workshops and planning study trips to companies.

In addition to that, holding joint events with other local networks did not work as expected due to clashing schedules and the fact that other networks have their own difficulties to be tackled.

Despite all the challenges we faced, we did not give up and always tried to find alternatives, mainly free events and workshops inside or outside the city. Due to our determination, we could see many exciting events online about fascinating topics such as sustainability, entrepreneurship, leadership, business development, and many more. Fortunately, we were able to participate in four different events in the previous and current semester.

Our first experience was participating in a seminar arranged by the Swedish Wealth Institute in Gävle, on the topic of entrepreneurship and mind programming for success.

Photo: SI NFGL Local Network Gävle at an event

The second event we attended was a seminar about the sustainability of cities organised by the University of Gävle. The world-famous architect and professor Jason Pomeroy demonstrated how we could bring the knowledge of historical buildings with us into the future. Our third event was a workshop about smart cities also organised by the university.

In the most recent event, we participated in a workshop about innovation ‘Gavle Innovation Hub’, organised by Future Positions.

Attending such different events as a group has strengthened our relationship in our local network. Moreover, it had a significant influence on us individually. Attending and participating in workshops, hubs and events introduced us to different stories, experiences and ways of thinking from outside the university by mingling with people from different backgrounds and with Gävle locals as well. Gathering insights from knowledgeable speakers and sharing our ideas have been great opportunities for us.

Besides expanding our knowledge about different topics and issues, it helped us improve our communication skills when sharing our ideas and thoughts, and acquire more confidence and motivation.

It might not be difficult to find events and seminars presenting exciting topics. However, it is sometimes challenging to find the right balance between studying and participation in extra-scholar activities. Still, attending these is definitely worth the extra effort.  

By thinking outside the box and finding alternatives we were able to reach our goals in our local network. Determination, hard work and teamwork are crucial to accomplishing any task successfully. Each network has its own challenges and difficulties with hard work, and by thinking outside the box, anything can be achieved.

To quote Winston Churchill: ‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.’

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Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.