Expectations and concerns
What is going on?
On the first day of the project, before starting games and activities aimed at finding out about your names, age or interests, it is worth finding out which group you are working with. We can already recognize the vast majority of participants through online collaboration, but we want to get to know them much better. For this purpose, we suggest the shape of the exercise, which – in our opinion – should start on the first day of the project.
WORKING METHOD PROPOSAL
Let’s prepare four workstations in groups – create four circles of chairs, and in their centers put one flipchart with the titles: 1. “expectations”, 2. “fears”, 3. “how I like to spend my time”, 4. “my interests related to the <topic of the project>”. Let us divide the participants into four groups and assign each of them the first discussion position. Participants should receive pens and post-it notes from us, so that in groups, while talking about the flipchart (based on its title), they can write down and stick the post-it notes on it with their answers in a given area. After 5 minutes from the beginning of the first conversation, participants should freely change the place of discussion (leaving the original groups) – let’s continue the exercise until each participant adds his own piece of paper to each flipchart. After completing the exercise, give participants a 10-minute break, during which the organizers should group the posts according to their content (e.g. collect all concerns about the level of a foreign language in one place). After the break, it is a good idea to present the results of the exercise to the group and discuss with the participants possible contradictions among expectations.
The exercise above allows not only the organizer and leaders, but also the project participants to get a clear picture of the whole group, its similarities or differences at different levels. In this way, at the beginning of our work, we know what we can expect from the other participants, and what they expect from us.
How will it help me?
The leaders and the organizer can learn from this exercise how to adapt further methods of work to the group’s expectations (e.g. whether the participants expect more independent or group work, do they prefer integration or substantive activities), how flexible the schedule should be (e.g. is it worth getting ready to extend the breaks between workshop sessions), do the participants prefer to organize their free time on their own, or do they need the constant support of national leaders. If possible, it is also beneficial for everyone to answer our group’s concerns at this stage, if we are well prepared for them – for example, if the participants are concerned about bad weather and most of the activities are to take place outdoors, you can now indicate a place in which group will be directed in case of rain.
How to talk about it with the participants?
After summarizing the effects of the exercise, it is worth encouraging the participants to express themselves both about their conflicting expectations (“So how do we reconcile sleepers with early risers? What compromises are we ready for when it comes to the reluctance of some of the group to compete games?”) And those convergent ideas (“Then who will organize a soccer match? When can we schedule a movie night?”). Providing a good atmosphere and meeting the group’s expectations is not only the responsibility of the leaders – the participants are also responsible for the course of the project, especially in the context of teamwork. Talking to them about the value of tolerance and openness to other needs, which are the basis of international experience, is worth the time.