Poetry Walk

Poetry walk, is an outdoor activity aims to bring people together and co work through poetry writing. The idea is how to extract the trove feeling of the place, and utilizing the power of imagination to simulate the things. Nature and buildings, or a boat lurching in the river.. what may capture our attention!

It’s a way to probe ourselves as new writers, and to meditate calmly to exploring maiden horizons in us through being fusioned with our surroundings.

Turku Cathedral, the great monument in Turku, was the first landmark what the participants were asked to write about. “What’s behind the door” the door of the cathedral that could lead to the crypts of the history, to the centuries standing like giants, surrounding our presence.

This is a way to summon the aroma of the past via poetry. To project various perspectives revolving around one place. It is an attempt to create a one joint brain, and one joint heart in bid of mitigating the differences and creating a better understanding. We succeeded to emerging what we think and feel about Turku cathedral.

To complete the image, and to follow the rhythm of the city, we had to descend to “Aura”. We ignited our senses to addressing the beautiful tree standing by the river. We went through it, and squeezed the feeling of it. Nothing is overlooked, because poetry is the art of diving into the small details, to forming up the broader image. Aura that passes slowly like a folk song or a tale, bringing the news and narratives of the farms and meadows to the towns, when it passes through them.

The poetry walk enabled us to facilitate new talents, by bringing them to the mainstream. “Turku Open Mic” event was penetrated by us singing our poems that we wrote in our two poetry walks. This is how StepEurope would always be a vital part of what’s happening in Turku in many instances.

In addition to that, we’ve already agreed on conducting another Poetry Walk on August 16th (more information from the FB event), we have talked about “Turku Market Square” as a theme for our forthcoming poetry walk. The place that thrives with diversity and the beauty of the city. For our poetry walk, you don’t need to be a professional writer, because the idea is to bring people together for creating a good communication with other participants via writing.

-Ahmed

Place of Hope – Asha Centre

Asha is a sanskrit word and means “hope”. This is the deep meaning and the philosophy behind the bright and gorgeous place that host us during our week training in the UK. The Asha Centre is an educational centre and its aim is to promote individual and social change for young adults, offering training and other similar experiences, based on the holistic education.

The venue is in a magnificent park in the middle of the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Dining room, kitchen, offices and library are located in an old renovated Georgian house and few other cottages are used for the accommodation of the guests. Everywhere around the big garden there are other, beautiful and cozy constructions and places: the “Peace Pavilion”, used for the training session, an ecolodge, an hobbit house, a pond and streams, a labyrinth, the biodynamic vegetable garden, from where comes most of the vegetables we had in our meals, and the peace grove, where representants of the world’s faiths planted trees as a sign of peace. Walking along the park is such a peaceful and relaxing experience: we did blindfolded for one activity, just hearing the sound of the water, touching the grass, the flowers and many different statues and symbols of religions and philosophies that you can chance upon along your path.  

 

Everything is in harmony with the ideal and the nature there: the people working or volunteering, the accommodation and the food, the sustainable choices they made for the plumbing system and the material of the buildings. It seemed that also us, coming from outside for just a few days, we could experience the change and the peace in ourselves.

And it was exactly what happened, we felt inundated of that glow, as Deborah, one of the Finnish delegators, felt in her soul.

Here you can read her experience from her own words.

Lisa

Safe Haven

I’m searching for my own safe haven, I’ve been searching for so long, for a place to feel like im at home a real home, a place to be myself, a place where I belong and feel safe, I searched everywhere and I ended up just where I began and then I realized my safe haven doesn’t have to be a place, no your safe haven doesn’t need to be a place, it can be anything or anyone.

I met a girl and asked her what’s your safe haven? And she said when she’s in the arms of her mother, when she is embraced by the sweet smell of a home cooked meal, when she is surrounded by her mom’s inexpensive perfume she feels safe.

And I realized all that time i was searching for a safe place when all Ineeded was the feeling of being safe, the people who made me safe andonce you find that you’ll find your safe haven.

The Asha Centre

O,my god i never imagined that a place like the Asha Centre exists In this universe, the first word that i uttered was PARADISE my safe haven. It is truly a place where you could experience truly being yourself and connecting to your inner voice and experience the beauty by appreciating the nature with the wonderful beings at the ASHA CENTRE. .

Its a wonderful life time experience that helped me to rebuild my personality traits, growth and intellectual development.The people\team and environment make it a real world of beauty and love. It promotes love and togetherness through their caring and sharing programs.

Last but not the least, I am grateful to the Asha centre for the rest of my life that provided me the opportunity to find my  Safe Haven that was once lost. My attitude of gratitude for all the members at the Asha Centre is highly commendable and life everlasting.

Hope the people who are in search of real peace and love could experience this wonderful place at least once in their life time for the rest of their life.

For me its everything its a healing place, its a home\shelter its a worshiping place its a recreational place its a world of true joy and happiness.

I would love spend the rest of my life at the Asha Centre and contribute my life to this Haven.

Love, Debra

Memorable experience at Asha

StepEurope ry sent four young adults to the training Europe’s Refugee Crises – the Role of Youth to Asha Centre, Forest of Dean, UK. The training was related  to the current situation in the world: the wars, revolutions and armed conflicts. Mainly the focus was in the refugees and asylum seekers coming to Europe. The goal was self-development and self-conscious in order to face and engage positively with the challenges back home by using non-formal methods. 

The training was carried out in a concise way of understanding the problem from the source and changing the views and ways of one’s self path towards a positive ways. Generally, The whole session was divided in three stages.

The first day was all about discovering the beautiful Asha center, the nature around it and getting to know the training participants with different interesting activities and games. Then we plunged right into the introduction part by getting familiar with the terminologies and legal aspects. Afterwards we continued by analyzing the root causes of the refugee crisis by identifying which countries were sources of refugees and which countries were most affected.

The second phase was introspective one, mainly focusing in building empathy. A storytelling session was held to help us to reflect ourselves in relation to the characters and situations in the story. Participants were then given the chance to select the most related part of the story with themselves and act it in a small group. On the next day we had activities that helped us in trust and confidence building within one another.

The third phase dealt with getting involved in different levels of solving the crisis. It was presented by “The Great Turning” wheel (a theory by Joanna Macy) which demonstrated different stages of involvement in the crisis: the individual one,  the structural level (lobbying in influencing policies), and the frontline level (holding the actions). We had the opportunity to hear from several experts presenting and sharing experiences during the whole course of the training.

-Amin

When it comes to practicalities going to England was really effortless. A big part of stress free departure for me was a fact that as an EU citizen I did not need a visa. Two members of our team needed one, so I guess for them it might have been more challenging. For me planning the journey from Turku to Forest of Dean was as easy as going downtown with a city bus. In the info pack we received by email all the transportation options and distances were explained really well. It made choosing the best route simpler.

Downside of booking the tickets was that each member of the team have done it individually. Even though we preliminary agreed on some transportation choices we ended up on different planes and buses. But we all made it. And I guess that’s the main point. We had to keep all the receipts as well as tickets and present them to organisers in order to receive reimbursement for the journey costs. Even though I was a bit worried in the beginning about not losing anything, the reimbursement process after arrival was absolutely painless.

I hope that was not the last time I booked my journey to the Asha Centre. Because that place is definitely worth coming back to.

-Emilia

Many different and interesting activities were planned for us during our permanence at Asha. The centre itself offers an amazing opportunity to spend time in harmony with the nature, walking around its blooming garden, through paths hidden into the vegetation and along streams and small waterfalls. Placed all around the garden there are statues and symbols of the most known religions and philosophies, there is also an Eco lodge, perfectly silent, where some of the participants meditated together or alone, especially in the early morning. To me the best attraction was a natural well sited in the heart of the Forest of Dean, just few minutes walking from the centre. Many of us liked to spend their lunch break dipping into its cold and regenerating waters.

Mostly of our free time was of course in the evening and I personally think that we had a good balance between planned evening programme, although with relaxing and cheerful activities, and totally free time, in which gathering came up spontaneously for dancing, deep conversations, bonfire, or whatever else we wanted. The trainers organized for us a movie night and a singing night with a natural voice choir director who made all of us singing together with emotion and enthusiasm.

Lastly, but not less important, we spent our free day at the Wye Valley River Festival, a local summer festival along one of the most beautiful river in England: enjoying music, performances, games, local food and drinks, and after the sunset, a torchlight procession and a spectacular firework show. We came back to the centre a bit tired and chilled but during that day we had the chance to get much closer one another in a cheerful and relaxing atmosphere.

We know that the people who join this kind of events are usually active and interesting, full of knowledge and experiences to share. This time at the Asha Centre wasn’t an exception, but more than exceptional was the atmosphere among us, that day by day we all built.

Due to the type of the programme, that focused mainly on us as individuals, on our personal emotions and involvement in the topic, it has been requiring to have an high level of participation and cooperation, of responsibility and respect towards the others, their stories and the information shared in the group. Since the very beginning I felt I was surrendered by amazing people, ready to know each other and be friendly in the funny and relaxing moments, and at the same time serious and deep when it was required. All of us wanted to be part in, to share what we had, to be attentive and welcoming with each others. From their side, our three trainers created the condition for a cozy and safe atmosphere, allowing everybody to talk and share, with any judgement or limitation, and any discussion or small group work went in the direction of listening and hospitality.

The main factor that, from my point of view, contributed to create such environment was that the majority of the participants were displaced people, coming from other countries from the one of origin or the second generation of immigrant parents. This made our participation more rich and dynamic and our personal and emotional engagement in the activities and in the relationships more fascinating and intense.

-Lisa

A separate text about the beautiful venue coming soon, stay tuned!!

StepEurope from a new perspective

Hello, my name is Lisa. I have just started my work try-out in the StepEurope ry’s team. I have been doing the work try-out now for two weeks, this is my third one so I am still quite new with many things. Although, I am actually not that new, so this is not the first time I’m involved with StepEurope!

The first time I heard about StepEurope ry was in June 2016, when I was quickly packing my things to go to Kosovo for an Erasmus+ training called “Training of Trainers”. At that time, StepEurope ry was much younger and lesser known than now but already well involved in many international events. A few months later I started joining its activities as a volunteer but I was not alone anymore – my little baby had been born. Even though I could not get involved as much as I wanted, it was always very exciting to participate in the brainstormings and events with my daughter wrapped in a baby sling or carried in a pram. I am sure it was a nice experience for her too, spoiled and adored by everyone. As for me, I felt always very comfortable and relaxed.

The life of a volunteer in StepEurope ry is exciting and at the same time flexible. You have in your hands the possibility to put into practice your own ideas, collaborate to create events for things in which you really believe and which really matter to you, without stressing about deadlines, marketing, funding, or technical issues. You can choose, which events to take part in or help to develop based on your own interests. To me, this was a great advantage, because at that time I could not give more but I still felt part of the group.

It was happy news to receive the opportunity for an interview, and even a happier one when I found out that I had been selected for a work try-out. This had a double significance in my private life: first, I had the chance to be more actively involved and share more responsibility with StepEurope ry, while pursuing my path in going back to a professional life after a long time at home.It was happy news to receive the opportunity for an interview, and even a happier one when I found out that I had been selected for a work try-out. This had a double significance in my private life: first, I had the chance to be more actively involved and share more responsibility with StepEurope ry, while pursuing my path in going back to a professional life after a long time at home.

Now I am sitting here, in our cosy and modern office in Logomo Byrå, balancing between what I can give to StepEurope and what I have to learn well and fast to be more efficient. It is quite surprising to discover the tools and effort that are behind each event, each post, each picture. And this is only the beginning! Especially marketing is quite a mysterious universe to me. I must admit that my interest in it has always been modest, and it is fascinating to know how much this is important nowadays and how much it needs to be practised.

So marketing, computers, new apps, new programmes, huge cups of coffee but in the end the same relaxing, informal and cheerful atmosphere I have always experienced with StepEurope ry. Thanks a lot to my great officemates Ronja and Ianthe, and thanks to everyone making this organization what it is, every time better and stronger.

I hope to see many of you soon in one of our next events. Our monthly newsletter has just been sent to you! Next week we are telling more about ourselves at the Kaupunkikarnevaalit, welcome!!

-Lisa

My internship at StepEurope ry

Hello! My name is Ianthe. I’m studying Community Education at Humak Turku. This spring I get to be part of the StepEurope ry team, doing my final internship and thesis at StepEurope ry.
During my studies, I have gained experience in youth work and event organizing. My focus has been multicultural youth work and non-formal and artistic learning methods. StepEurope ry has given me the opportunity to develop new skills and broaden my network.

Ronja and Elias warmly welcomed me as part of the team at the beginning of February. Together we have organized events, attended meetings and networking events, made a new marketing plan and marketing materials. I gained experience in using handy marketing tools as Canva and MailChimp and got some updates on my social media marketing skills as well.

When planning for this internship, I set the goal for myself to get experience in writing funding applications before I graduate. I want to be able to apply for funding and create innovative projects in the years to come. This is a valuable skill when working in the NGO sector. With Finnish not being my native language, I also wanted to gain confidence in my own abilities to write important texts in Finnish. 

My internship kicked off in February with an approaching deadline for an Erasmus+ funding application, so I got to practice right away! The application was a team effort, working with the international cooperating organizations and StepEurope ry’s volunteers. I was happy to see how StepEurope ry’s projects are planned and implemented with its young adult volunteers, creating youth work together. It was a thrill to work on such an inspiring project and I was happy to be able to bring some of my own experience and network to the project.

During the month of March, a big part of our working hours went into writing a more extensive STEA (Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations) funding application. I had the chance to attend a workshop organized by STEA to prepare for this task. Now, after the deadline, the process continues with the waiting for the funding decision! 

The most fun moments of my internship were definitely the local events we organized. I like to help create a nice atmosphere for people to come together, celebrating differences as well as what we have in common. With my own background as an immigrant, I have enjoyed meeting young people from many different countries. During the Newbies evening, Afternoon Coffee, the panel discussions, the Week against Racism, the Lost in Turku mystery path and other events, we received feedback about how people like to hear each other’s stories and make new connections. This is one thing I like about StepEurope ry very much. It gives a platform for young adults to meet each other in a relaxed, international atmosphere.

At this moment Ronja, Lisa and I are enjoying the sun coming through the roof windows from the Logomo Byrå. It’s a pleasant working environment and a wonderful team. Ronja has been my mentor during the past months and has made this internship such a wonderful experience. A big thank you to her for the help, the guidance and the excellent company!

I have another week to go in my internship and will focus on my thesis during the rest of the spring and summer. I’m also looking forward to being actively involved in StepEurope’s upcoming activities. During the summer I will be part of the Gardening Project. You can still join us if you want! We will meet Saturday 28.4 for the first time here in Logomo Byrå. Check the event here if you want more info! 🙂

I’m hoping to meet many of you in the time to come. Maybe in the garden, or at another StepEurope ry event!

Interesting internship in StepEurope ry

Hello all, my name is Ioanna and I am a Master’s degree student in University of Turku, recently I had the opportunity to complete my internship in StepEurope ry. I have been a volunteer to StepEurope since last spring and worked in the organization for 2,5 months. First week I had to familiarize myself with my upcoming tasks, how the organization works and every new information that someone needs before they start to work somewhere. The next week the focus was put to the upcoming International training we were organizing and to the other events that we had during autumn / winter time.

Highlights of the internship:

  I participated in the Not Just Numbers workshop in Novia where I also shared my experience as a European citizen living in Finland and helped with the overall workshop to progress. My everyday tasks involved arranging meetings, brainstorming events, sending emails and replying regarding our upcoming Erasmus+ training Not Just Numbers that I will discuss further in this post. During the internship I participated in organizing and was part of many events, like Ravintolapäivä in Vimma – where besides working there on the day of the event, I also made a big Greek salad with some help from my colleagues. “Behind the Labels” seminar was an event that was held in the Institution of Migration where people of immigrant background shared some experiences about their life leading to their immigration to Finland, also helped with the event “Media Workshop” at Kirjan talo.

One of the big events and the one that I put a lot of work into since the beginning was the International Not Just Numbers training that was held in Laivahostel Borea, an old boat in the river side of Turku, on December. Not Just Numbers was an international youth worker mobility project aimed at strengthening cooperation and developing capacity of youth organisations in dealing with migration and asylum issues.

The project was a training of trainers, based on non-formal methods and experiential learning. The project aim was to improve the quality of local activities in the fields of migration and asylum awareness conducted by consortium members in their countries. It was an eight-days training that brought 30 youth workers and youth leaders from seven European countries: Finland, UK, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Hungary and Romania. I was in charge of the communicating with the sending organisations, preparing the info guide, and delivering some workshop sessions during the training.

  My overall internship experience was interesting and at times challenging, which means that I learned a lot during the whole time. Working in an International environment can teach a person many things and open someone’s eyes to new ideas and views. I am happy that I could be part of the organization that has as main goal to inspire young people to take a positive step in their lives and play an active role for the creation of a more diverse and tolerant society.

-Ioanna

Youths thoughts about Islam and nowadays Finland

StepEurope ry booked a guided tour in English and visited the inspiring exhibition “Numur -Islam and I” together with the youth on 14th of March. The exhibition, was on display at the Migration Institute of Finland between February 28th‒March 20th. It is part of a project “Young Muslims and resilience” at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, led by Docent Marja Tiilikainen. The opportunity was given to young people of Muslim descent to project their relationship to their religious and cultural roots.

The exhibition aims to give a better understanding of how the individuals of Islamic origin may peer at their relation to Islam through the lens of art. The participants have utilized tools of the contemporary arts to paint up their ideas. Arrays of photos clung on the walls aside the calligraphic portraits scripted in Arabic. These are first items what would capture one’s gaze, once you visit the exhibition, in addition to the Sufi Masa, spinning in the middle of the room. Muttaqi Khan is one of the artists who lives in Helsinki, and who took several photos of “his Helsinki”. His photos emerge the way he sees this Northern city from a personal view as an individual of Muslim background. Muttaqi, the son of an Imam, was born in Jyvaskyla. He belongs to a conservative family, and he says that whenever he visits his country of origin, Bangladesh, he feels that his home is Helsinki. This denotes vividly that Muslims who grow up in a Western environment interact with elements of their environment on a completely personal level.
Islam is a personal view and a cultural past.

The exhibition materializes how Islam is being shown from various personal views of each artist ‒ how they associate with Islam and what kind of relationship ties them to it, and it also pops up in the relationship between them and the society they are living in. For example, being a Muslim did not barrier Sara Salmani to create her own videos alongside her husband and their newborn child: enjoying and balancing life as a successful Muslim woman and mother seemed to be the theme of her contribution in the exhibition. Sara’s video is an intimate account of her life during the first year of her small baby girl. She shows great affection to her beautiful child, and is keen to record the moments of her life as a happy Muslim family in Finland. Moreover, she discusses the role of Islam in her life as a woman, entrepreneur and a mother.

Many guided tours were arranged during the exhibition to enable visitors to learn more about the background of the artwork and ask questions. Several school classes attended the exhibition as part of different courses, and they seemed to be curious to explore new cultures, religions and ways of thinking. This experience would give anyone a better understanding concerning the Muslim community living in Finland, which is a growing religious minority the country. Some art work represented a bold initiative in challenging and providing a new reading of Islamic concepts and interpretations. In addition, the concept of homeland(s) in relation to multiple identities was explored.

-Ahmed

Pictures: Ahmed Zaidan

Community Activities: How To Get In, To Fit In

Suppose you move to a new country. You are new to the culture, traditions and ways of life. If you do not know anyone beforehand, you would be left out in the open, not knowing where to start, and almost susceptible to social isolation.

Humans, as we all know, are social beings. With the exception of some of us, we all love to be among people, preferably who share similar interests and views. Whether it is a small gathering at home or a large training seminar, we all want to acknowledge that in the end, we established some commonality with our peers.

 

It’s all well and good in your home town, with your many friends and wellwishers, but how would you best integrate with the community in a new town? If socializing and familiarizing are what’s on your mind, there are many things that you can do.

 

Here are a few of them:

➢ Find groups that suit you. With social media use so widespread, it is effortlessly easy to find and join a group that engages in regular activities. Facebook pages and Meetup groups are the perfect way to start.

➢ It also helps to join the giveaway or fleamarket groups. You buy things you need at dirtcheap prices, and you will make new acquaintances. Of course, make sure the groups are verified and safe.

➢ Don’t hesitate to talk to people. If you need help, instead of turning to Google, look for the nearest person and speak to them. It could be something as basic as asking them for directions, or the bus timings. Yes, it is shocking to hear about such brazen social interactions in Finland, but you would be pleasantly  surprised to learn how often such interactions lead to a friendship, your very own “meetcute” friendship story.

➢ Find the town’s expat network. Attend their  meetings and activities when possible. Such networks function like a support group where you get acquainted with people in the same situation as you are, and realize that it’s nice to live there after all.

➢ Find out if you’re eligible for free language classes, and do not hesitate to enroll.

➢ Visit the town’s youth centre or other notforprofit organisations. They are always looking for volunteers and would be glad to have you.

Such opportunities are no less here as well, in the charming city of Turku. One such organisation is StepEurope ry, that has been active since 3 years, working towards building a strong community where people of different ethnicities coexist. Its wide spectrum of activities vary from something as simple as a coffee gatherings, to bold activities such as ice swimming, gardening projects for the environmentconscious, to trainings, workshops and seminars that promote tolerance and sense of community.

So go out there, have fun!

Remember, communication, leads to community.

-Deepika

Work try-out experience with StepEurope

My name is Elias Ayele, I have studied and graduated international human rights law in 2015. My journey with StepEurope ry started in the summer of 2016, and it led me to a week-long training to a country I would have never imagined to visit Pristina in Kosovo, a beautiful city with lovely people. It was my first ever Erasmus plus training, whose primary focus was on the training of trainers for youth workers on the topic of migration, refugees, and asylum seekers in Europe. It was an extraordinary experience to meet various people from different countries with a common goal and vision. It was during the training that I have aspired to be more involved with StepEurope and even to host similar project in Turku. Nonetheless, it was in September 2017 that I officially joined StepEurope ry team as työkokeilija (work try-out) for a six-month period, which would last till the end of March. I must say it has been a wonderful experience for me. I am grateful to have been taking part and see the Finnish NGO work through StepEurope ry.

Aside from assisting and participating in our local monthly activities, my main responsibilities during the work try-out include organizing events such as Restaurant Day and “A Look Behind the Labels” panel conversation, short interactive workshops on migration and integration, social media posts, being a co-trainer in the NJN (Not Just Numbers) international training and participating seminars. Lately I was happy to have been working on the final report of our international training in December and the new project application to be implemented in the coming autumn.

 

I can say the highlight of my work practice was the “Not Just Numbers” training in December. It was a week-long international training with 30 amazing youth workers from seven countries. Though the training was only for a week, my responsibilities and the team of facilitators started to work towards the training way back in October. I was assigned as a co-trainer along with another intern, which meant that I had to prepare the training sessions and also help with many practical and preparation works to facilitate the training. Personally it was a great learning experience and platform to gain trainer competence and build confidence. I have learned a lot from the main trainer as well as the participants. It was such a wonderful time to have interacted with them and the trainer, who made the training lively and memorable.

I would say that StepEurope ry is like one big family, which includes the board, the project coordinator, interns and our active volunteers, who are filled with experts in their professions. I have enjoyed the modern co-working environment in Logomo.  Particular shout-outs to our board members and Ronja; our project coordinator, for being helpful in guiding and making my work try-out filled with fun and rich experience I can take away in the end. I would definitely suggest others to come join our team, which is really open to and flexible with anyone willing to develop their careers and competences or learn more about different social issues.

-Elias

Bonding in Borea: A Volunteer’s Experience in the Not Just Numbers Training

Find out what a bunch of people from different parts of Europe did on a ship in Turku in the freezing winter.

They say Finland is the most beautiful to visit in the summer. Then what possessed a group cheery youngsters from different parts of Europe to visit Finland in freezing December? Here’s your answer in three words: Not Just Numbers.

StepEurope ry, Turku’s answer to an active youth organization, has been working towards dealing with many Europe-centric issues, most recently with the recurrent migration and asylum crisis. Not Just Numbers, modelled on the IOM manual’s of the same name, was a step towards understanding this issue and creating awareness among the youth.

This was our (StepEurope ry’s) second week-long training session in Turku. And boy, was it fun! The weeks leading to the training which was held from Dec 7 to Dec 14, were full of frenzied preparations and long discussions. Who should pick them up from the airport? What about the food? What about the entertainment? Where will they sleep? Will they be ok? I’m sure all these questions gave our project coordinator Ronja some sleepless nights!

The day finally arrived. The stage was set at Borea, Turku’s “floating hostel” . Preparations were made, and excited, we all left to receive our participants arriving to different points in the city. And within hours, Borea had transformed into a cultural cornucopia, with lively chatter and smiling faces. The first evening was an “International Night”, a literal table for each country that is participating, laden with food, drinks and decorations. Looking at the table, you could easily tell each person brought at least one bag of goodies (and emptied another bag on their way to Turku) from their country for the event! All this with a live music performances! Soon, we were all getting to know each other, eating, laughing and dancing. In no time, the group of hesitant, shy participants had turned into a jolly one.

The next morning, the training began. It was time for the trainer, an experienced and cheerful trainer, to take over. And the ideas started flowing. It was amazing to see the participants’ level of enthusiasm and the knowledge they brought to the table. Over the next few days, the group went on to discuss different issues prevalent in Europe and how to deal with them. Our interns, Elias and Ioanna, also conducted lively sessions. Of course, all work and no play makes for a boring workshop. So StepEurope ry had organised fun activities like pub crawl, sauna, Turku city tour, shopping, movie night among others, to allow the participants to socialize with each other. All this paired with delicious food each day from different places!

They say time flies by when your having fun, and that’s exactly what happened at this training. The last day was when we realized how much we had grown to liking each other, and how much we had grown, as a person. So many different people, from so many different backgrounds, all living under the same roof for a week, I would never have imagined we’d get emotional. Personally, I had thought “A week? People from different countries? That’s not enough to get close to a person!” I was wrong, and how! Undoubtedly, we forged some new friendships that week. It was a truly heart-warming and humbling experience. We said our goodbyes, sadly, but with a promise of continuing to be in touch. That week in Borea had done a lot – brought people together, dealt with important issues and upheld the need for unity in diversity.

Thank you StepEurope ry. Thank you participants. <3

– Deepika