I lost my voice. Literally. Due to several days of cold and coughing. Unlike my reading pause, my talking pause has not been voluntary. I have had to cancel meetings and focus on healing my voice for teaching.
Yet, not talking has been inspiring. First of all, I have suddenly all this unplanned extra time due to cancelled meetings. Thus, I have been able to plan, write and read. Great! Second, not talking doesn’t mean no communication. Smile and a nod has taken me far when meeting someone. They might not even notice that I don’t speak. In Finland that is possible.
Maybe most educational has been the fact that I have been forced to listen to others. Only body language, like nodding, smiling, and at home wrinkling my nose and rolling my eyes. It is hard not to comment! For instance yesterday my colleague said something I would have normally started to debate, may I say heatedly. This time I just nodded and continued listening. Actually, it happened that my colleague answered all my questions without me asking them as I only let time pass.
I propose a deliberate talking pause for everyone once in a while. It can be as short as 10 minutes. Don’t wait for losing your voice, as that’s not very good for anyone. However, listening to others is very good for everyone. It builds up patience and signals respect. I want to take this time and listen what you have to say.
I went to School last Saturday and it was fun! The peer-learning festival was situated in an old hospital Lapinlahden sairaala (hospital) which was the first psychiatric hospital in Finland. A lovely spot despite the cultural connotation.
The School had openly invited teachers from different domains. For instance flamenco, longboarding, doing things wrong, creative writing, recycling, making boots, sketching, animal rights, time banking, Nietzsche’s relativism, Finnish folk dance, and practicing democracy. There were up to 200 lessons spread across the old hospital during the two days. Such an inspiration!
I took a flamenco class and attended a session about peer-building. That’s when a group of people plan a housing project by themselves for themselves and manage it. Of course, help should be brought from consultants who know the business. After the lessons I chilled out in the lovely autumn weather and enjoyed lunch. Such a perfect day!
Of course this event didn’t pop up by itself. The organisations making the event happen are Demos Helsinki, Sitra, Helsingin Juhlaviikot and Aalto University. Despite the fact that the practical set up was enabled by volunteers and facilitated, the content was up to the peer-teachers. I am impressed by the willingness of people to come and teach others with the stuff they find interesting.
There is so much power in peer activities. It creates such a warm atmosphere when people are ready to share what they know and help others. I wonder what I could teach the next time I go to School?
I have taken a concrete step in my community activism. I have promised to host a weekly Mölkky game in our courtyard for neighbours in our housing company. To start it all fluently, I have to send my spouse to start the first game as I have a compulsory overlapping appointment. What a great Mölkky coordinator they got!
Despite my delay, I hope this weekly meeting will make it easier for us to get to know each other. Although I tend to think I suck in Mölkky, it is nice to do something with people I don’t know that well – yet..
It is funny that it might be even harder to make an effort to get to know new people when life is good as then we tend to be caught up with our daily routines and the usual, usually work-related, networks. Yet on a rainy day, we might not be able to reach out for support. It seems that my local community exchange service (CES) Stadin aikapankki has one solution: the Time Heals Network.
The Time Heals Network offers peer support through Stadin aikapankki. Through the network one can get trained support for dealing with difficult times. In practice, this means using the CES account units (tovi) to pay for the services (no money involved), and as time is mature, start to offer services through CES and gain units. Additionally, it is possible to benefit from services before generating surplus units through offering services.
I would love to introduce CES and the Time Heals Network to my housing company. I am rather sure there are persons in my community who would like the idea of exchanging services as well as benefit from temporary peer support. Maybe it is possible to lobby CES over Mölkky when I through the wooden pin aimlessly around the courtyard. Someone might gain units by teaching me some techniques.
I attended a research conference on social entrepreneurship. In conferences I try to talk to one new person on every break. Not because I am supposed to, as research practices are socially constructed by humans, but because I have found it a great way to get to know jolly people.
I would have never heard the following funny stories if I had only listened to my colleagues’ scheduled presentations. Well, here’s a true story. No one believes you when you say that. Yet, I assure you this one is. I was informed over the dinner that one of my Nordic colleagues was fined in Denmark after asking the policeman if he was wearing a thong.
This revealing brought up many other absurd stories related to meeting the guardians of law and order. The people around the table are lucky to live in countries where one doesn’t have to be afraid of the police. Thus, one of us had asked a permission to kiss a police (on his cheek) as a part of a dare competition. One had mistaken a police patrol ringing the doorbell as masquerade guests and invited them to join the noisy party they had actually arrived to interrupt.
Social gatherings in professional meetings are important. However, I am surprised how many people have a tendency to sit with people they feel close to. Especially this applies to international meetings. It is either sitting with people from your home country or people you already know.
This is understandable. After listening to presentations about new topics, usually not in one’s mother tongue, and using one’s brain to the extreme, it is quite demanding to try to make up a meaningful conversation with someone one doesn’t know. Yet, it has become such fun when I realised I don’t have to: usually everyone is overwhelmed by the quantity of interesting topics and they really look forward to a break. Thus, according to my experience sharing funny stories and laughing is the official brain maintaining activity in research conferences.