I started my road trip towards Germany without even thinking about the name: It’s up to me. What a simple and yet, what a complex concept: it’s up to me. Just when I look back I see, how many problems could have been solved so easily. All I know is that host organization is called Naturkultur and that participating countries are: Germany, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Turkey, Macedonia and Spain. We are catching a train from Dortmund and after couple of hours arriving to Braunlage, a village like those from Grimm brothers fairy tales. We don’t have internet and every night participants are cooking dinner for everyone. I am a little bit worried, but it turns out- that is also up to me. As Bosnian group had first night dinner, we were all a little bit worried; how are we going to prepare food for 40 people, what if the food isn’t good, what if no one likes our prepared program…But, it turns out, everyone loves the Bosnian food and Bosnian customs, so this gave a great example for all future groups who, by the end of the training, organized amazing nights and prepared amazing dinners.
The objectives of the training were:
– Know-how – To provide the participants with information on how some things are done, why some things are done in particular way, what is behind the scenes of a good organized project, to peek into the decision making process, in the preparation
– Improve participant’s soft skills such as public speaking, presentation skills, self-expression skills listening skills etc
– Provide methods and tools for delivery of workshops – such as different types of simulations, team building games, brainstorming, creating learning environment, creative environment etc
– Provide hard copy materials (guidebooks and written materials)
– Some of the workshops included emotional self-discovery, listening to your body and emotions. Being on the stage/spotlight requires being aware of what is going on inside of you and being able to manage yourself
– Provide feedback to the participants. It is really important to receive feedback and do it again, so we would see the growth of the participants during the project
– Show different styles of trainers. There were four trainers from different backgrounds and professions that have very different styles that helped the participants see different approaches and ways of working which lead to finding their own unique style in future
– Coaching and mentoring– Apart from the mentoring and feedback during the project, for this edition we are introducing 6 months mentoring process for all participants after the project until their first/next training experience
– Self-assessment- Sometimes young trainers are not aware of the qualities that they have and things that they know. Sometimes they think that they know everything and there is nothing new to learn. We will provide a self-assessment opportunity for the participants to evaluate which things they know well, which things they still need to learn.
– To offer opportunities for quality training experiences. Organizing joint projects, creating pool of trainers, getting shadow-trainer opportunities
First things I have learned:
- having each night and dinner organized by participants is an amazing team building activity ( national and international teams)
- not having internet in the venue is the first step towards bonding of participants and being in a „middle of nowhere“ means participants are focused on each other and group dynamics
- stop crossing your arms if you really want to accept knowledge
Through activities like competency model, public speaking, presentation skills, self expression skills and, for me, specially, listening skills, non verbal communication and movement we had the opportunity to observe each other and ourselves, to see where are our boundaries and as my very inspiring and creative friend Slobodan said: “Needless to mention, the most important is WHAT we say, but not less valuable is HOW we do it! Participants learned about the ATTITUDE – how a speaker should stand, where his/hers hands should be, what body language is (in) appropriate etc. BEHAVIOR – how a trainer should communicate verbally and non-verbally with the audience, when and how to use jokes, how to move on the stage and keep the attention etc. and the PRESENTATION itself – which methods are the best, what we should never use as a part of our visual assistance, how to structure the ideas and be as concrete as possible!”
Through approach of trainers and their activities, we had the opportunity to see that emotions are powerful tool when it comes to moving and shaking people up, that with emotional approach, we can defeat even the toughest walls.
What have I learned:
- Filter your words before you say them
- If you want to be a trainer, you have to be a human being: vulnerable, sensitive and emotional
- Take a political stand and don’t be neutral
- We are all made of all 4 elements: earth, fire, water and air, and everyone has to find the balance inside
- Trainer is NOT just a person who comes for a project, makes several workshops and goes. Trainer is much more than that – someone who takes care of the participants, who possesses great management skills and is able of great improvisation in crisis situations
Some of the workshops that I found very useful were creating our own activity and being evaluated by trainers, crisis managements ( what to do in case of…) and Q/A with each trainer individually. There, we got the opportunity to learn how would someone much experienced than us deal with a certain situation or behavior. Really good thing was that trainers were very different and had a different approach, so we got more options to choose from and to try and practice in our work.
What have I learned:
- What techniques to use if participants are being late for activities
- How to establish authority in the group
- How to observe participants during activities
- How to debreif activities
- How to reflect and teach others how to reflect on the learning process
- Dialog partner as a good tool for reflection
When I came back home I couldn’t stop talking about what the trainers said, I got lost in my notes, I realized that I even wrote down some small observations that I found useful and can’t wait to implement in my upcoming projects. I already told my colleagues about how I want to open the project, how I want to put the chairs, what kind of food we need to have, how we should create the rules, how to set goals and expectations and that we should never, ever say that we are tired. I also learned how important is to pay attention to happiness of your team, to pay attention on personal and emotional approach, to make participants feel like someone is really taking care of them.
What have I learned:
- Believe that people are rooting for you
- You should pay attention on what food you will serve, to make it stronger, more sweet, to pay attention to details like tea with ginger and honey, big bowl of cocoa (specially if the group energy is falling)
- „Grow a beard“ – a way of building authority and respect in the group
- How to ground myself and pay attention to details in movement
- It is important to have the room for activities neat and clean
- Don’t just talk about changing the world, just go and change the world
- Everyone has different style and speed of accepting the information
I ended my journey through Germany with a sense of initiative in a way that I want to make great projects and use the things I have learned. In a way that I want to make myself a better person and with that, a better trainer, someone who will shoot for the stars and make this world a better place, and change someones life, like the people I met in Germany changed mine.
I ended my journey through Germany with a sense that this is only the beginning.
After all, it’s up to me and it’s up to you. It’s up to us.