ESN Finland’s Social Inclusion Weekend

A national training event with a comprehensive focus on the cause of Social Inclusion was arranged in Vaasa, Finland 5–7 April 2019.
ESAA Projects, .

The event gathered around 30 participants, including some international guests, who enjoyed three days of team building, workshops, presentations and social programme.

The event was made possible through a collaboration between ESN Finland and ESAA, both of which funded the event, and thus made the organisation of the event possible without the need to collect any participation fees! The local associations of ESN Finland were given priority in the registration process, but the event also had the honour of hosting international guests from Sweden, Russia and Hungary. The event was also supported by Åbo Akademi University, which, on its behalf, provided free venues for the training. The organising committee of the event consisted of members from both ESN Vaasa (a local association of ESN Finland) and the national level of ESN Finland.

Friday afternoon and evening were mainly dedicated to team-building activities, as the focus was on creating an open and safe space for non-formal education, which was the main focus of the training. On Saturday and Sunday, different aspects of Social Inclusion were explored, with topics such as code of conduct, communication, inclusive group dynamics, social bubbles, accessible media, inclusive leadership, conflict management and best practices. The sessions were facilitated by volunteers of the Erasmus Student Network with experience and knowledge in different fields, led by a team consisting of four trainers. One of the trainers was a certified facilitator in non-formal education in ESN Finland, while the other three had just finished a training-for-trainers event. Thus, the event offered valuable facilitation experience and also provided personal feedback to three new trainers, while the high number of people with training experience ensured high-qualitative non-formal education throughout the event.

On Saturday evening, participants were also offered the opportunity to attend a Dinner in the Dark, in order to get first-hand experience of what participating in this kind of event feels like, and hereby also being better prepared to arrange similar events themselves. Dinner in the Dark received really positive feedback, with participants sharing that it was an impactful and inspiring experience that they would bring home to their sections.

All in all the organisers hope, and also believe, that this event managed to inspire, motivate and empower local ESNers to implement the cause of Social Inclusion in various ways in their sections. The long-term goal is to raise the number of Social Inclusion events arranged in Finland, and also create a common understanding of the fact that Social Inclusion is not something extraordinary or auxiliary that local ESN associations "have to" arrange, but to a great extent the core of everything what ESN is and does.

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