No conflicts under the midnight sun – Midterm meeting in Narvik
At the beginning of June, Narviksenteret hosted the “First ADR Kit” coordinator team for the mid-term evaluation of our project. A laborious and focused group, as ever, but also with an eye to taste as much as possible of what was, for most, their first ever visit this far north.
Anyone who has had the logistical responsibility for any kind of international project can testify to the intensity of hosting. Trying to give the guests the best stay possible can be very stressful. And when hosted in Norway, not exactly known for its mild climate and friendly prices, you are even more on your toes.
We made sure our guests would turn up armed and ready for any eventuality. Dressed in their puffy jackets and heavy boots, they were met at the bus station at midnight by a smiling host, dressed in shorts, flip flops and sunglasses. Summer had suddenly decided to cash in its chips for the first 5 days of 20+ C of the year. And together we drove to the village in the fjord – Beisfjord – to find our accommodation. There was almost an element of comedy to the whole situation. No doubts any more that the guests would be served memorable moments in the north.
But we were meeting to work, first and foremost. After the highly fruitful project seminar in Pesaro earlier this year, this meeting was important to take stock of our progress since then, evaluate tests of our new workshop scenarios, and make sure we had all tasks covered for the remaining months. In addition, there are all the budget matters, documentation, and all other pen strokes needed for project management. A sizeable job to perform in just a few days.
And, as is integral for the success of any long-term project – at least in this project partner’s view – to socialise and tend to our friendships.
Hurdles were cleared one by one by a motivated group in high spirits. Budget concerns addressed, documentation of test sessions put together, and remaining tasks divided. Standard stuff to oversee, also for the host. We had time to continue developing the games that are part of the intellectual output of this project – inspired and re-inspired by a never-out-of-creative-ideas Sean. We brainstormed, developed, took stock, and pressed on. We created fictional youth workers named “Maria” to help us uncover blind spots in our concoctions. And then we started all over. If perfection is ever possible, it is only through practice and more practice, whether developing an educational method or engaging in real-life mediation.
We may not have made it to perfection. Instead we settled for very good, and allowed ourselves time to explore the fjord-side village of Beisfjord, a thorough tour of Narvik War Museum, an ActionBound-assisted tour of Narvik, and topped it all of, quite literally, by dinner and dessert at 656 metres above sea level with a view that claimed many new fans of our little corner of the world.
For the host, nothing could have been more gratifying than the simple words of our Italian colleague, Daniele: “I don’t want to go home. I think it’s the first time I’ve thought like this”.
Our mid-term evaluation meeting took the project forward. It also showed that all the work done by all the participants of the project so far, has been effectual. It underscored the tight connections and close friendships created since the beginning of the project. And it showed a tired, but all the more grateful host, that Narvik and Beisfjord, through Narviksenteret, are ready to leap onto the Erasmus + stage as a host of projects.
Looking for a training on mediation in 2018? Look to Narvik. Because it is hard not to solve conflicts under the midnight sun.