The SAME experience
How has being part of the SAME network influenced our volunteers? We asked people from all experience levels, from founders to newbies, about their experiences.
Jumping in at the deep end:
Coming to SAME Summer Camp for the first time can seem daunting, but is it really? We asked Bendik (Operasjon Dagsverk, Norway), Emma (Operation Dagsværk, Denmark) and Luisa-Sophie -Lu- (Operation Daywork, Italy), all first-timers at last Summer Camp how they experienced it.
What made you want to go to Summer Camp 2014?
Lu: I wanted to meet other young people who have the SAME interests as me. I also thought that I could learn a lot from them, especially because we are a very small organisation
Bendik: I had heard of SAME annually for the last four years I think, but I never truly felt that I actually understood what SAME was. A short talk about SAME isn’t enough to cover the whole network. Therefore I wanted to see for myself what SAME did and how it functioned. The fact that you get to meet people from other countries that work for the same goal as you, is very encouraging. To visit another country is also exiting, and since I have never been in Belgium before, it was quite tempting to apply for the Summer Camp.
Emma: I didn't really know anything about SAME. But there were some free spots in the Danish delegation and I had no vacation plans.. So it was all very spontaneous, but it ended up being really great!
Do you intend to come back this year?
All: Sure! Now that we know the people within SAME it’s an easy decision. We’re really looking forward to it!
Did your vision of work within a Solidarity Action Day organization change by going to Summer Camp?
Emma: Hmm I realised that there are many different ways of organizing the same concept.. And we got a some new practical inputs for our own organization.
Bendik: There are some big challenges facing OD over the next years. The participation rates are going down, and it is hard to make youths interested in our topics. Germany and Belgium had some very interesting methods that could partly solve the difficulties mentioned. After working for OD for several years, you start to believe that the way your organisation is driven is the right way. That vision is put to a test when you see what other organisations/action days achieves, even at a lower budget or with fewer people.
What is your best/worst/weirdest SAME-related memory?
Emma: The best thing about the camp was the atmosphere, and the way everybody was totally enthusiastic. The teambuilding games like Temptation Islands were especially fun and also made everyone get closer together..
Bendik: This one is hard. My best was the evening, which there was arranged activities, and I had the best jog of my life together with Mio. After that, it was so nice to sit down and grab a beer with the rest of the participants and to make food from all the different countries. Other things I enjoyed about the Summer camp was: Visiting Brussels, the location/Bokrijk, the feeling that you could be a part of the process in forming a newly started network and to be able to help other action days.
Emma: The worst thing is that we all have different ideas about what SAME should become, and how big a part of our organizations SAME should be..
Lu: It all was very intense sometimes, especially within my own organisation. I was never really on my own and that was a bit hard for me because I like being on my own sometimes
Emma: The weirdest thing of all were the animals! A really funny thing was when a goat ate the business cards Emilie (another girl from Denmark) had left all over the garden/park the night before!
Martina Panzolato (Progetto Zattera Blu, Italy) and Martina Persic (UNSS, Serbia) have both been involved in the SAME netwok for several years now. We asked them what it had meant to them and how they think SAME might evolve in future.
What have you and your organization gained from being part of the SAME network?
Martina Pa.: The SAME network has been THE chance for Progetto Zattera Blu and its partner organizations in Europe to experience a real form of cooperation and democracy on an international level, always within the bounds of transparency and reciprocal accountability. This best practice exchange is also of positive example for our organization on a local level; it has strengthened us and allowed us to grow.
Martina Pe.: As an organization, UNSS gained new contacts and learned ways member organisations can voice their opinions between, which helped to improve our own Action Day. On a personal level, I have enjoyed of lots of different experiences.
What do you think the future might hold for SAME?
Martina Pe.: We hope that SAME will continue evolving and more and more new organizations will join, all with a common aim: making a world better place. Maybe, one day, SAME can stop being European and start to be a worldwide network.
Martina Pa.: The future foresees a very meaningful transformation for the SAME network, turning into a formal organization with a European dimension. This, combined with a publicity campaign for visibility and support for new Action Day initiatives, is a structural development aiming at greater efficiency and effectiveness and will give the partnership more credit and credibility.
What is your best/worst/weirdest SAME-related memory?
Martina Pe.: The weirdest thing I can remember dates back to Summer Camp 2013 in Italy. It
was when I first saw Norwegians lying on the ground, face down. It can’t have been comfortable at all. They told me that it was popular in Norway, lying in strange places and that they have a name for it and it is calling "planking". It was so strange and funny. People can learn so much about other people at Summer Camp.
Martina Pa.: My personal perception related to the SAME network is the constant feeling of being part of a group of people really devoted to making change happen in Europe by discussing things together and trying to build something reliable together. The funniest memory, though, is the last Strategy WG meeting in Brussels, full of "tooth-brush parties", set to teenagers' pop soundtracks. Notwithstanding the whole group always managed to show the same composure, seriousness and maturity when it mattered.
The origins of SAME:
Some of the volunteers who were there at the first Summer Camp have are still involved several years down the line. We talk to Lukas Meyer (Schüler Helfen Leben, Germany) and Jana De Poorter (Zuiddag, Belgium).
What made you want to get involved SAME when it was still in its experimental phase?
Lukas: I met Fabio and Ricci from Italy in May 2010. Actually, this was the first time I met a Solidarity Action Day activist from another country. It was really interesting to hear his perspective on the work we were both doing in our own country and we started thinking about possible cooperation on a European level. I then did some research was overwhelmed by the 300,000 pupils working all over Europe. So I contacted some future Samies and we agreed on a first meeting in Oslo. Right from the beginning we felt a special SAME spirit and we really believed in this network and in cooperation. We had a lot of fun, made a lot of friends: we all wanted to improve the Solidarity Action Day!
How have you seen SAME evolve over the years?
Jana: What I love about SAME is that every Summer Camp has led to a new milestone for our cooperation: in Oslo in 2011, we got to know each other and agreed on our common ground; we laid the foundations for our network. A year later in Berlin, we came up with the name SAME and discussed what it means for us to organise a qualitative Action Day, sharing best practices along the way. While preparing the Summer Camp in Italy, we realised that one Summer Camp per year might not be enough to make real progress in our cooperation, so we created working groups who meet via skype during the year. After experimenting with this for a couple of months, it was time to meet again in Belgium in the summer of 2014. There, we agreed to take our cooperation to the next level by creating a more official organisation, communication strategy and structure. Despite differences, we managed to agree on where we want the network to go and what we want to achieve: improving our own organisations through the exchange of best practices, supporting new Action Day initiatives and organising common actions to make the voice of young people heard at a European level. This remarkable progress in only 3 years made me realise that if you put a group of committed people together, everything is possible: every year again, I was excited to see what the outcomes of the Summer Camp would be – both for the Belgian Action Day and for the network.
What are your best and worst SAME-related memories?
Jana: There have been a lot of great moment, but I remember one particular moment on the train back to Belgium after the Summer Camp in Berlin in 2012. We, the Belgian delegation, had found out that the other organisations were a lot better at having youth actively participate in the decision making process of the organisation (the board, the election of the project, ...). So we started making plans to take over the next board meeting and demand having a bigger youth representation. And we did. Luckily, the board members at the time were incredibly happy with our demand: turns out that’s what they had been hoping to achieve since the start. Within only a few months, we managed to change our entire organisational structure and create a majority of youth members in our board. For me this sums up what SAME is all about: that extra spark necessary to improve our work.
Lukas: The parties are always a great of Summer Camp, I've had so much fun! On a more serious note, I attended a congress in Germany with a lot of politicians, scientists and other very important personalities. In his presentation, Ulrich Beck, the famous sociologist, mentioned SAME as a good example for European citizenship – this was really weird. We started in this ugly city of Neumünster with a warm beer and we ended at such an important congress.
Both: The worst moment has to be the Utoya attack during the Summer Camp of 2011. Realizing that so many of our Norwegian colleagues lost their friends or would have been there themselves if they hadn’t been at our camp was completely terrifying. The moment we understood what happened everyone realised it could have been us... Nevertheless, we will always remember the support we gave each other although we’d only known each other for 3 days.
Jana: I expected Norwegian society to become filled with hatred but the only thing I could feel - both in the streets of Oslo and within our group – was a weird mix of complete incomprehension and unconditional love. It gave both Norwegians and SAME one more reason to keep on fighting for the kind of society and world we want to achieve.