Learning Lab(oratory) Pro Training Course
by SCI Poland
SCI cares about the high quality of our educational activities! We want to offer only the best experiences to our volunteers and the youth we work with, and we also keenly share our expertise in non-formal education with other organisations.
One such example was the Learning Lab(oratory) Pro training course which has been recently organized by our Polish branch in Poznań in the period of 27.10-3.11.2022.
As many as 28 participants from 9 countries got more in-depth on the topics of inclusion and new tools and trends in learning and development in online and in-person settings, under the guidance of Natalie Jivkova and Gośka Tur.
The training was a part of the ‘Learning Lab(oratory): quality non-formal education in the digital world’ project and co-funded by the European Union. You can find more information about the project here.
We collected some impressions from the training participants who explain what SCI training courses are like in their own words… and graphics and drawings!!
Impressions from Hinka Stanimirova:
I was part of the lucky group, who had already gone through the wonderful experience of the first Learning Lab training course in Emen, Bulgaria this July. So, you can imagine that my expectations were high, to begin with. Still, our lovely trainers Natalie and Gośka managed to meet and exceed them by gathering a vibrant group of 28 people from more than 10 different nationalities and leading us through a full week of discussions, games, role plays, digital tools and more. We had the chance to go out of our comfort zone and experiment in a safe zone. We learned and got inspired by each other, met new friends and made memories together.
For me, the beauty of such a well-organised international training course is that learning happens on many different levels. It is not just the tools that your trainers try to teach you. You learn with the new methods you try out, with the new people you meet, the new perspectives you encounter and the new culture you are immersed in for a whole week. It is so intensive and passes so quickly, that it takes time and reflection afterwards until you become fully aware of all the things you’ve brought back with you in your “backpack”.
So, looking back at my “backpack”, I want to give special thanks to our trainers and the organisers of SCI Poland, who made this learning journey possible. I would also like to encourage our readers, who haven’t yet experienced the magic of non-formal education to get their backpacks ready and jump into this adventure without a second thought.
Impressions from Ralitsa Drumeva:
Throwing back at the Learning Lab(oratory) Pro Training, full of inspiration and a shade of sadness and trying to reflect on all the emotions, lights of inspiring ideas and everything that I had the opportunity to learn, maybe the most distinguishing thought that comes at the forefront of everything is: “This was by far sure the most diverse group of people I have ever had the chance to interact and work with”.
Being myself an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion and working as a Co-Leader of the DEI initiative at the local division of an international IT company, I have had many occasions to see the importance of creating a space for people from diverse backgrounds to exchange ideas and innovate together.
Still, I have always had the feeling that something really important was… missing. And stepping into the circle of the Learning Lab, the missing part came to fill the space in my puzzle of what the power of diversity really was about. And as long as it is very difficult to express a feeling with words, the nearly best try would be to say that it is about creating a space for people from diverse backgrounds to explore the environment and themselves through art in all of its forms – digital, vocal, physical, written and hand-made, spoken and acted, danced and sang. Putting art in the toolbox boosts the potential and self-confidence of everyone to be able to be inspired and become inspirational for others as well, removing any limit or border.
The LARP play and conducted group singing experiences may be taken back to any country and any situation, folk dancing activities are a wonderful way of extending a hand to someone who has been through the trauma of war or violence, even if they do not speak the language of the country in which I am volunteering, thus giving both them and me the rope to feeling safe, the digital tools may remove barriers in front of people with limited mobility, audio or visual abilities, thus giving them the platform to be included and the feeling that they equally belong to a group.
And setting a safe space always starts and carries on with openness and sharing, it goes as far as walking through the dark forest of the holy night of 1st November to the cemetery, telling stories – the personal ones, family, related to city history, dating back to the full of horror times of past wars with a portion of humour to reveal a different, peaceful and mindful way of perceiving eternity.
Because being an international trainer, a facilitator, a youth worker, and a volunteer is always being an ambassador of the best virtues and values of your culture and an interpreter and ally for the best virtues and values of the cultures of the people you work with.
Impressions from Eliza Pankova:
For me “learning equals behaviour change”, so even though I am eager to talk plenty about my experience from the training time – how much I enjoyed the amazing nature of the accommodation place, the connection with the people in the group, the stimulating and entertaining workshops and the presence of the trainers with their dedication and care – I would rather share my learnings and inspirations
A lot of the things that I learned I have yet to put into practice, especially those for leading a group of participants through a multi-day experience. But some I have already started implementing – like making a warm and cosy atmosphere even for a working meeting, lighting candles and small lights and having pleasant things to eat.
The biggest learning and inspiration for me though was the introduction of digital tools. Me and a couple of others from the training group started working together to create an online calendar with simple challenges for people to be mindful and act toward creating a deeper sense of inner peace in their lives. We are experimenting with the digital tools that we learned in the training and also finding new ones to suit our project.
While working like this these few weeks after the training course in Poznań, tons of new ideas came to my mind for new projects that can be realized with the help of these types of tools and for improvement of the current digital courses that I lead. I sparkle inside and can’t wait to continue exploring this field of possibilities that Gośka and Natalie introduced to us in Learning Lab Pro.
Visual story by Vera Nikolova