What I learned about myself and projects at the Finnish intensive week as a student of social sciences

two women in front of a car
Me (Jenna) on the right and Eeva-Mari Miettinen on the left, leaving from TAMK to pick up our participants to the "My future, My planet" intensive week.

Making my future was the first international project I got to work on as a social sciences student, and through this project, I got to learn and experience a lot of things from the “project managing -world”, in a short period of time. My name is Jenna and I am a social sciences student at Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

Making my future was the first international project I got to work on as a social sciences student, and through this project, I got to learn and experience a lot of things from the “project managing -world”, in a short period of time. My name is Jenna and I am a social sciences student at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. One of the first things I learned about this project and the upcoming intensive week in Finland, was “we have a plan, but we don’t have a plan”. During the next month in this project, I really got to know what it meant for me and the participants in this project. Crossing over from the comfort zone and changing the perspective.

I chose Making my future project for my project studies, because I wanted to participate in a creative process and action with young people, using these socio-cultural and future guidance methods, that the project holds. Especially in social work we’re used to having a lot of plans, conversations, and the focus often shifts from the creative and action-based methods to verbalizing our thoughts and feelings. In this project, when sometimes language was in the way of expressing things verbally, you really got to see the progress rather in the action, creative processes and final products made. Crossing over from the comfort zone and trying something new really made me think about the way that I participate and work in situations.

I would describe the learning environment in the projects last intensive week, themed “My future, my planet”, as authentic. By authentic I mean, that during the intensive week we got to explore and investigate what really interested our participants, rather than give them something ready to work with. This concept of learning about a theme makes you investigate yourself and others in a different way, and so build the relationship with your own and the community’s future. Here’s where the “we have a plan, but we don’t have a plan” came into play.

Sifting the orientation from trying to be on top of the situation to living in it and seeing where our unplanned walk takes us.
Sifting the orientation from trying to be on top of the situation to living in it and seeing where our unplanned walk takes us.

Us having a plan, but not having a plan, lead to me learning, that you need to listen to the situation in hand and work with what you got. This mindset eased the way to working hybrid and letting the participants imagine freely what subjects they want to work with during their time in the workshops. So, I’m unknowingly during this month in the project checking the boxes for what I wanted to learn about advancing social participation, enhancing the potential and encouraging the youth to create their own future, and understanding how the actions and workshops relate to the goals of this project.

So, during this project I feel that my orientation sifted from trying to be on top of the situation or manage it, to living with it and it in, learning from, about and with all the participators in this project. I feel that this is the idea I must keep working on, because although I had the realization, I still fell short. Here I can find room for professional and personal growth and development.

All in all, this international project was a valuable learning experience for me, and I got to work with a lot of different people from different countries. The last intensive week also held different kind of challenges compared to the earlier ones due to corona restrictions, but the challenges really got me to appreciate this experience even more. I gained many new skills, gained a new perspective and found new ways to improve myself in the future.

Jenna Ikäheimo, 3. year social work student at TAMK