Sorry it's been such a long time since our last post, it certainly feels like a lot has happened since then. In the meantime we have taken some Norwegian language classes (Vi snakker litt norsk nå!) and a couple of weeks ago we were involved in something rather different from our day to day tasks in the office, namely Verden i Bergen. What is Verden i Bergen I hear you ask? Well, it is a week-long integration project based on the outskirts of Bergen which aims to bring together young Norwegians from the local area and refugees from nearby reception centres. It's a project that CISV Norway has been running for a number of years already and you can read all about Emi and Laëtitia's experiences from last year here.
This was a project that both Alina and I had been quite excited about as it meant we would get the opportunity to work directly with young people, running activities and hopefully breaking down many of barriers that still prevent meaningful integration within society. It was also a chance to work with engaged volunteers and the excellent Kompaz Team who are an incredibly dynamic and motivated group made up of 2 Colombians and 2 Norwegians. Do check out their work as it is released over the coming year, it's sure to be amazing.
So what was Verden i Bergen like?
If I'm going to be completely honest with you... it was a bit of a challenge. There were more than a few moments where we found ourselves in situations where we had to think on our feet, adapt our plans and trust that each another would do a good job with the tasks that we were leading. All of this might sound perfectly normal, and in a way it is, but in reality a lot of these situations could easily have been avoided with just some simple changes and clearer organisation. Other challenges included quite practical ones such as the fact that of the 6 main organisers only 2 spoke Norwegian. What this meant in practice is that the bulk of the activity leading, announcing and general leadership fell on the shoulders of only the Norwegian speakers, which I know wasn't always easy.
That said, there were also some really fantastic moments from the week as a whole. Personal highlights include a blind food taste-testing and interactive pizza-making activity based on produce from around the world. It was great to use food as a way to develop our thoughts and ideas around different cultures and recognise its shared importance wherever we find ourselves during our lives. A great resource when thinking about this activity, as well as meal planning more generally, was the CISV Cookbook - an online database of recipes, ideas, advice and tools to aid people whenever they have to cater for groups. It's a resource that was developed by a previous EVSer and so we are proud to promote it and strongly encourage you to have a look for yourselves
Another highlight includes when we created 'Dream Trees' on our final day. Each of us initially had the task of writing and/or drawing our dream on a sheet of paper. It could be anything and could be as fantastical as we liked - the idea was to dream. We then folded and rolled our dreams and inserted them into balloons which we blew up and hung from real trees out in the town. The result was the transformation of normal, everyday trees into colourful Dream Trees that were filled with our hopes and desires for the future, with each one being as equal and important as the others.
Written by Doug