They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well, neither is the YES. In fact, it only becomes the one-of-a-kind educational seminar it is because of the creative vision and meticulous planning put in by highly passionate volunteers starting almost a year before the event itself takes place.
Since the first selection of volunteers in coordinating roles in early September, the team has been hard at work – familiarizing ourselves with our own roles and getting to know the rest of the team have been some of the key building blocks we’ve started to put in place.
But it wasn’t until a fateful weekend two weeks ago when the part of the team responsible for putting together the educational framework met up in Vilnius that the planning truly kicked off. Specifically, the people getting together this time were the Content Team Leader, the Logistics Team Coordinator, the two YES Hosts, the two Education Team Leaders and the EEE-YFU Projects Coordinator. If all those roles for the moment just seems like a word salad, don’t fret! The roles and their responsibilities will be presented in more detail during the spring.
This first preparation meeting had a couple of goals:
- Formulating a united team vision for the event and our work together
- Settling on the official theme for YES 2020
- Set up the road map ahead of us
- Get to know each other better, have some fun 😊
So how did we do? Well, quite amazing actually!
Thursday night was arrival night. Being an international group, people came in from various parts of Europe: Brussels, Marseille, Oslo, Tallinn, Warsaw, and some from Vilnius. On Friday morning the real work started. We had long and in-depth discussions from the why of educational sessions at the YES, to what we want the educational outcomes to be and how we want to achieve them. Perhaps most importantly, we decided on the theme that we want to build the seminar around. More on that in a future post!
On Saturday morning we were joined by our dazzling Freestyler Coordinators, IGL Coordinators and Media Strategist who video-conferenced in – literally from all of the world – for a common session on some of our strategic priorities. It quickly became evident that one thing we all think is extremely important is to create a unified atmosphere of cooperation and purpose among the team of volunteers. One YES, one team. If we manage to do that well (and we will!), we are certain that our main goal of giving the students an unforgettable experience will naturally follow suit.
The rest of the meeting, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, was dedicated to working in smaller groups, outlining the steps ahead of us. There was an exhilarating feeling that there was always something we could discuss; a new angle to consider. Although time was a limited resource, we managed to successfully tie all the loose ends together. We also took the fun and socializing to new heights: together we marveled at the beautiful view of Vilnius from the 326.5 m tall TV Tower, and experienced the highly anticipated annual lighting of the Christmas tree at the famous Vilnius Christmas Market.
When we said our farewells (or rather, see you soons!) to each other on Sunday afternoon, there is no doubt that we all deserved to. We felt a sense of pride in what we had accomplished during the weekend.
You might think that in today’s digital world, with highly online communication tools and top-modern working platforms, the need for meeting up in person to plan an event like this is diminished. I’d say that’s dead wrong. Now, as much as ever, there is an immense value in the face-to-face communication and connection that come from meeting up physically, discussing together, eating together, laughing together, and working side by side.
Having this first in-person preparation weekend, with some people meeting each other for the very first time, has been a crucial stepping stone in the success of YES 2020. Of course, much more work remains before the first student arrives to Werbellinsee on June 22nd, next year.
But now, with a solid foundation of purpose and vision, and a clear path laid out ahead of us, we’re more excited than ever to take on the challenge of making YES 2020 the best it can possibly be!