Raj's Exchange in Sweden

Posted on July 27, 2016 by Raj Basabathini

Hello again, it’s been some weeks since I’ve returned from Sweden and playing catch up with life here at home. The rest of my time at the Clubhouse for the remaining two weeks was spent on the unit working with members and staff, completing various tasks and carrying out certain responsibilities. In regards to gardening, they’ve got an ongoing project of building a greenhouse. I helped with cutting the wood that was used in constructing the frame. I’d never used a table saw before, but I’m happy to report no injuries! Meanwhile, on the Maintenance side of things, anything that needed upkeep around the house was our job, including changing a lightbulb tube that required some special strategies.

The best and most rewarding part for me, however, was getting involved creatively when the Director asked me to lead the unit in restructuring how they operate and function. The unit had some tasks on their whiteboard that weren’t very clear as well as things that didn’t really serve a purpose or wasn't quite meaningful. As per our model and philosophy, the work done in units must be meaningful. We took down their whole board and started from scratch. We broke down the work to better describe what various tasks entailed to hopefully encourage others to take part.  We also did away with things that didn’t quite make sense and came up with some brand new ideas. By the time I left, the members felt more comfortable taking initiation, and even the way the morning and afternoon meetings were facilitated changed. What really made the whole process so special was the amount of input coming from the members discussing how they felt their unit should function and operate going forward. I appreciated the confidence they showed in me. I was grateful to be asked to collaborate with their unit, to be regarded in such a way is something I won’t forget and will certainly miss.

There’s so much more to say about my time in Sweden, such as visiting the Clubhouse in Motala as they celebrated their 4th anniversary. I also visited the Clubhouse in Bastad, where I swam… for the first time in my life! Being the museum-junkie that I am, I had so much fun sightseeing and exploring as much as I could, along with spending time with my new friends riding roller coasters at the amusement park. And of course, for those who know me, I just had to find a way to play some pool too!

I certainly missed friends and family here at home, but a part of me didn’t necessarily want to leave as life over there was just so a lot calmer compared to our concrete jungle. The trams I took to get around town were never crowded and always on time, a far cry from our subways here! Still, through the help of technology I was able to keep in touch with folks back home, including a video conference with my own unit.

I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for the opportunity to take part in this exchange, it was an incredible experience both professionally and personally. I’ll be keeping in touch with the good folks in Göteborg and plan to for a long while. I hope to visit again someday but until then... Ha det bra!

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