The Drop Academy started with an informal dinner where all the coordinators met, some for the first time. For me, having interviewed and picked the coordinators for their missions, it is wonderful seeing them face to face. Even though I have had several Skype meetings with all of them, it is quite different to be able to give them a hug. During the dinner, I gave them a task; to prepare a presentation on themselves, to be held the next day. Pen and paper was handed out and the coordinators got creative.
A unique “Drop Culture”
We work with many different cultures. Not just amongst the volunteers from all over the world, but also amongst our beneficiaries, collaborators as well as the Greeks.This calls for ‘cultural sensitivity’, so it felt natural that the first step at the Academy should be discussions on topics such as culture, vision and values. Even though we are present at several locations and with varying tasks; an obvious DROP culture exists. This culture is made by our volunteers. The DROPS have so many things in common, and also share an understanding of what it takes to make everyday life that much easier for the refugees. The attitude and behaviour of each volunteer and their common effort make this culture.
Leadership, communications and reflections
All the Academy participants have been coordinators for at least a month, which means they have a lot to contribute with in the various talks and discussions. They know and understand the organisation and they all had reflections and input which was helpful for their colleagues.
Throughout the duration of the DROP Academy, two days, topics such as leadership, communications, group dynamics and ethics was discussed and lectured about. The coordinators especially enjoyed our many conversations as a group, in smaller groups and one to one. There was time set aside for individual reflection and afterthought, which obviously took a toll on everybody.
A Drop in The Ocean is lucky enough to be a part of NeedsList. At the DROP Academy the participants made their own ‘needs list’ ment to help them elevate their potential as leaders, work more efficiently and ensure better communication between the various destinations and the administration in Oslo.
Mindfulness and Self Care
In our environment we often discuss ’volunteer burnout syndrome’. Mindfulness and Self Care are important aspects to consider and focus on when volunteering as a coordinator for several months. It is essential to take care of oneself to be able to be a supportive and well functioning coordinator for our volunteers. During these packed two days, we endulged in short moments of reflection and work on our ‘inner self’. When responsible for A Drop in The Ocean volunteers, this is a priority and something I focus on through my conversations with the coordinators. In the Academy we saw the value of sharing the experiences we have encountered during our work day with its demanding and varied tasks. It is important knowing ones limitations and to understand the signals your body is sending you.
The plan is to have 3-4 seminars yearly and the next one will most likely take place in May/June. The target group for the Academy is first and foremost the coordinators, but also team leaders and market managers who volunteer for a long period of time will be eligible to attend the Academy.