Author: Mai Salmenkangas

“Dear diary…” Reflections from Ghent by Swedish delegation

“Dear diary…” Reflections from Ghent by Swedish delegation

S_U+G Serious Urban Game® – challenge + location = mission

by Sofia Gustavsson

In March 2019 the Swedish project team from Karlstad travelled Ghent in Belgium to participate in training on how gamification as a pedagogical methodology can promote learning, motivation and integration. Eight professionals from Karlstad became game masters of the S_U+G Serious Urban Game® #WORK ™. It was the start of the transnational learning network that will be developed in the project.

During four intensive days didactics, target groups, participation and horizontal perspectives were discussed. Theory was mixed with practical exercises and we as participants got to experience and learn about the SUG-platform by playing a game and completing different missions. The energy level increased as the participants completed the missions and we learned about how our different personalities could be strengths in different missions as well as competitive driving forces. How can we as professionals create a learning environment that offers both the swiftness and competitive elements as well as creating opportunities for reflection and deeper knowledge?

Apart from training on the SUG-platform where we also got to create our own missions, we played the S_U+G® Business Angels which is about entrepreneurship. It was very positive to learn that all the S_U+G Serious Urban Game® are developed in a co-creative process between professionals and the target groups. A lot of thoughts and ideas came up on how we could create our own games together with our target groups. The work with developing the S_U+G® methodology will continue through the learning network.

During the last day we got an insight to the Flemish part of the project. Staff from Artevelde University College Gent described how they will evaluate the project based on the Most Significant Change (MSC) method. MSC will be used both on national and transnational level.

As an addition to the training, workshops and lectures we were also given the opportunity to participate in a variety of study visits – all with the incredibly beautiful skyline of Ghent!

As part of the training and the transnational learning network we will create a new S_U+G Serious Urban Game® together. The game will be about creating trust in society. To feel trust in society is essential to participation in a democratic society. Our target is neither modest or impossible and the journey towards our goal started in Ghent!

Sofia Gustavsson is a teacher in Swedish for immigrants at the adult education division in the municipality of Karlstad, core trainer in CONNEXT for inclusion.

Reflections by Swedish steering group members

Four out of five members of the Swedish steering group had the opportunity to come to Ghent for two days. They got an introduction to S_U+G Serious Urban Game®, participated in study visits, listened to different local experts on labour market integration and participated in world café discussions. Here are their reflections.

Gunilla Gröndahl Ohlsson

First, I want to say that it was a wonderful trip. We had a lot of fun and it was very useful to get to know each other and the work we at home do in different departments in the municipality. Belgium and Ghent offered some nice experiences. The whole trip from beginning to end was very well prepared and organised both from the Swedish side and the Belgian side.

The first thing that I realised when I arrived was that we were expected and welcomed and got a nice framing presentation and a description of S_U+G Serious Urban Game®. The staff from [ew32] exuded strength, dedication and faith in their model. This transferred to us and we became carriers of the same dedication. The fact that [ew32] will be very involved in the local adaptations of their games is very positive as it shows protection of their model which is very important as you develop new methods and ask yourself “are we doing what we are supposed to do?”.

I found several of the S_U+G Serious Urban Game®’s interesting and I think they could be useful in our Swedish context, one of them being MindFits ™, a game abour mental health. The time frame for playing the games, 3 hours devided into 30 minutes for preparing, 2 hours for plaing the game and 30 minutes for debriefing might need to be adjusted for our target groups in Karlstad, we will have to think about how we can make the best adjustments to fit our local contexct.

Another thing I realised was how tight the connections between the Swedish participants were and how they expressed their job satisfaction and happiness at work. It is a very nice group that seem to have found each other and that are eager and excited to bring S_U+G Serious Urban Game® to Sweden. New collaborations among professionals working with the target groups have been established.

The days in Ghent were well organised with fun and interesting study visits where I could see both similarities and differences between the Belgian and Swedish ways of working. The learning ateliers were very interesting, and I realised that the issues concerning the target groups in our two countries are very similar. One difference is that the participants could stay in the ateliers for many many years which would not be possible in Karlstad. There didn’t seem to be any work or treatment addressing the social or psychological issues which might obstruct the rehabilitation process.

It was a journey that gave me concrete knowledge about S_U+G Serious Urban Game® as well as different labour market integration activities. It will be fun to host the Belgian and Finnish delegations in Karlstad in December. They will probably notice that we are better at gender equality than Belgium!

Gunilla Gröndahl Ohlsson is Manager in Unit for young adults, department of integration, income support and employment, labour market and social service administration, Municipality of Karlstad

Malin Rådman

It was interesting as a steering group member to be able to participate in Ghent for a couple of days. Apart from experiencing Ghent which is a very beautiful city, we got to learn more about Belgian labour market politics, about CONNEXT and about S_U+G Serious Urban Game®.

I got a deeper knowledge about how S_U+G Serious Urban Game® works and what is required in terms of preparations and follow-ups to play the games. It became clear that we will have to work on finding good Game Companions in Karlstad to make it work. An important part of the journey was also to get to know the Swedish project team better and I realised that we are all from different platforms and therefor our possibilities to play S_U+G® with our participants will be different and that we will have to consider how we can arrange the set up differently for different target groups.

An interesting reflection for me was that Sweden has come a lot further when it comes to gender equality. For is it’s natural that women work full time but this was not as natural for our Belgian partners. That this is an issue in other EU-member countries made me realise that we realise that we have a big challenge in Sweden working with immigrants and refugees when it comes to gender equality and women working full time.

I look forward to continuing working with the development of the project and that we get started and can try our and adapt the games to our local context.

Malin Rådman is Manager at  Jobbcenter, department of integration, income support and employment, labour market and social service administration, Municipality of Karlstad

Kristian Roos

The journey to Ghent gave me the opportunity to understand the different challenges and possibilities of the different partner countries and platforms. There were many commonalities but also some things related to different national structures that has led to different solutions for working with integration and inclusion.

We were presented many good examples that can be put in to action in our project platforms and in other administrations in the municipality. The way they were dealing with recycling disposed food was interesting. The ateliers for recycling bicycles and other items were similar to Solareturen in Karlstad.

An unexpected bonus of the journey was the internal cooperation within the Swedish delegation. Both within our own administration but also with the other participating administration. It made us realise the scope of possibilities for cooperation between professionals on different levels in the municipality.

I got a better knowledge about S_U+G Serious Urban Game®, how it has been applied previously and what experiences this has led to. It gave me an insight about the challenges and possibilities we have in relation to our own implementation. I really appreciated the competitiveness of the games which I believe our target groups will do as well.

Kristian Roos is Enhetschef, department of newly arrived refugees, labour market and social service administration, Municipality of Karlstad

Jennie Holmberg

The week in Ghent was very well planned and organized and we had a warm welcome. The training had a high standard with a good variety of exercises. Study visits and workshops also gave us some new perspectives and we’ve seen both similarities and differences between our countries. There is a lot of experience to exchange about how we solve different issues and situations working with our target groups.

For me it has definitely confirmed the feeling I had when we first started developing the project together with our Belgian and Finnish partners, that this is a future way for us to work if we want to engage target groups that don’t feel motivated by our traditional ways of teaching and supporting. There was a variation and joy in the method that engaged us all whilst learning new things.

The Swedish participants that will become core trainers through the project and cooperate with each other are very professional and creative. Both them and us had questions that we needed answers to during these days in our eagerness to get started and try out the method with our target groups. I think that our internal cooperation in Karlstad will strengthen through CONNEXT in many ways and on different levels.

The fact that we had both the steering group and the core trainers in Ghent was very valuable and shows that the project is very well established in our own organisation. This will facilitate a good implementation and sustainability of the project.

I am really looking forward to continuing the work in the project and disseminating it to other municipalities in our county.

Jennie Holmberg is Project coordinator, Värmland Tillsammans, labour market and social service administration in collaboration with the department for adult education, Municipality of Karlstad

Madeleine Bäckström

The fifth steering group member is Madeleine, but she was unfortunately not in Ghent.

Madeleine Bäckström is Principal in Unit for Swedish for Immigrants, adult education division, Municipality of Karlstad

Pictures: Pixabay/ Pexels (cover), CONNEXT project (portraits)

What do we mean by horizontal perspectives?

What do we mean by horizontal perspectives?

All projects funded by European Social Fund need to determine their relationship with horizontal perspectives. To make it more concrete, CONNEXT arranged a world café discussion in the Ghent partner meeting to clarify what could horizontal perspectives mean in view of ethnicity and gender.

First, the importance of cross sectorial training for professionals on horizontal perspectives to make sure that the professionals are not emphasising stereotypes was discussed. We should be careful when talking about cultural differences in general and instead try to identify the core of the topics we want to discuss. Perhaps it’s the gender spectrum and redefining gender roles that we should be talking about instead of cultural differences? How to we work with career counselling? Are we being gender sensitive when we talk about the possibilities for women and men when it comes to different education and jobs?

The group discussed also the importance of always thinking twice before separating groups for different activities. We need to make sure that we don’t create more segregation in our attempts to integrate. Separate groups could initially be beneficial to create trust, getting to know the group and identifying different needs, but the aim should eventually be to work towards integrating different groups.

A good example of working with integration and inclusion is through positive role models and mentors. By creating opportunities for people to meet and to get to know each other beyond gender, age and culture we combat prejudices and create a better understanding for each other’s differences as well as similarities. This also gives people a chance to start building networks that can be very useful when it comes to practicing the language, understanding society, finding jobs etc.

One practical example of how this could work was presented by one of the participants from DUO for a JOB. Their aim is erasing disparities and inequality in access to the labour market for young people with an immigrant background. DUO fully values the experience of our elders, breaks down age barriers, encourages inter-cultural and inter-generational activities through a mentorship programme. Simultaneously it combats stereotypes such as ageism and xenophobia, by recreating close social ties based on understanding and solidarity.

The use of ambassadors is another good example that could inspire and motivate people, as well as strengthening the ambassadors themselves.

 

Text: Marie Andersson, Karlstad municipality, Sweden

Picture: World Café Community Foundation/ Avril Orloff

Ready – steady – S_U+G®!

Ready – steady – S_U+G®!

It’s necessary to experience it before you know it. This was very clear with S_U+G Serious Urban Game® methodology, because oral or written descriptions just didn’t help curious CONNEXT partners to understand what S_U+G® is all about. In March 2019 the partners had a chance in Ghent to play two games developed by [ew32], namely Business Angels and #Work – and to understand it all.

Welcome to get acquainted with impressions from the S_U+G® training in a film. (The article continues under the film.)

The reaction of training participants on S_U+G® was enthusiastic. Many felt it was exactly what they needed when working with immigrants. One participant stated in the evaluation: “By knowing and playing this new method, I’ve got new oxygen in order to empower youngsters and groups.” S_U+G® was considered a suitable method also with vulnerable groups: “It’s important for me to make my students feel secure, safe and have confidence and have fun while learning. Using this method I am sure they will.”

Others felt playing a game was a journey to themselves: “The creative aspect in the game was an eye-opener for me. Through the game I discovered a creative part in myself.” It is true that S_U+G® gives an opportunity to apply many different approaches, as documentation of missions can include for example photographs, voice, films and written documentation. For example in Business Angels game real life entrepreneurs were interviewed and business logos were created on a pavement by drawing with colourful chalk.

The S_U+G® methodology can be used to support immigrants to get acquainted with different places, organisations and people in their new home country. It can also be a tool to promote the practicing of new language skills. Best of all, it is meaningful to use S_U+G® in pairs or small groups, which means that nobody needs to carry out tasks or explore the surroundings on their own.

During CONNEXT for inclusion project new S_U+G® games will be developed and trainers trained in three countries, Belgium/ Flanders (Ghent), Finland (Helsinki) and Sweden (Karlstad).

Text: Mai Salmenkangas, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland (quotes from training evaluation material)

Picture: Screen shot from CONNEXT film produced by [ew32]