Hälsningar från Sverige! or... greetings from Sweden! As part of a three week staff exchange, I've been working with Fontänhuset Göteborg in a wide variety of ways. I'm taking the place of a staff worker in their "Fastighet & Trädgård" unit... otherwise known as maintenance and gardening, which is similar to the Horticulture and Maintenance unit at Fountain House in NY. However, timing has been interesting as I've also had the good fortune to participate and help facilitate another one-week training on Engaging Young Adults, which Göteborg successfully hosted for the first time. The training was co-facilitated by a team from Göteborg along with a team from Genesis Club in Worcester, MA. More on the training in a moment, but first Göteborg!
The clubhouse here has been operating for a number of years and is definitely what we in the clubhouse universe would call a "strong house" - a vibrant community of members and staff. Helena, the director, leads about nine workers among three units such as the office and kitchen units, along with mine. It has been a great experience to witness how something I'm so familiar with back home can be just as familiar here many miles away in another country. It truly represents how the clubhouse model and philosophy are well maintained throughout the world. Regardless of where on the globe we might be, we have units in which staff and members produce tasks side by side and operate various functions of their house, creating a thriving community. Everyone has been so gracious here in welcoming me to their clubhouse and making me feel as though I'm one of their own, for which I am quite thankful.
As I said, the first week of my time here in Sweden coincided with the one-week young adult training. This is where various clubhouses send a team of member and staff to participate in discussions on how to better facilitate their young adult programs, or on some cases, how to start them. We had colleagues, our term for those who uphold our same mission in their own houses, from all over Scandinavia. Teams from Norway, Denmark, Amsterdam, Finland and even another part of Sweden came to Göteborg to take part in this training. For some the issue was in fact how to get a brand new young adult program off the ground, toward which Genesis and Fountain House NY were able to give many suggestions. For other teams, the concern was more around how to reinvigorate their already existing programs into something even more dynamic. Strategies were discussed on how to better engage the youth, while deepening understand within our respective programs around employment, education and housing. When we comprehend what these things mean to our youth, then we can better address their needs and, in doing so, better engage them. The week long training was quite the learning experience even for someone like me who has facilitated several over the years.
Well that's a snap shot of my time here so far. Next week I'll discuss more about what it's been like working in the house and on my unit with the members and staff of Göteborg. Until then... Ha det bra!