Once a lifetime opportunity!!!

Fredskorpset Norway

2011, FK Participants.

*Some opportunities come once in a lifetime* I absolutely agree to this mantra. Being an FK exchange participant is one huge opportunity that presented itself at the right time in my life. The many opportunities I have had this past one year since stepping in Norway, I count myself so lucky.

Last week, saw me participate in one huge event organized by FK Norway and I am definitely lost of words on how to best describe it. The colour, the glamour, the organization, the FK staff and of course the FK participants, it was great. The FK Youth Camp that was held at Sørmarka in Norway, brought together FK participants from all over the world. Young men and women all excited about being agents of change in their new assignments in foreign countries. It took me back to October last year, at Hadelland Hotel outside Oslo three weeks at the preparatory course; together with my fellow exchange participants we had a great time.

Participants at the Youth Camp.

One year down the line, I am attending the youth camp as a facilitator and as cleared stated by the FK Communication Adviser, Thomas Olafsen “You will have two sessions; your task is talk about blogging and to have the participants get inspired to blog during their posting”. Not so challenging, I am now used to doing this and I enjoy it. I thought.

Just a few days after landing from Kenya, I was down guess with Malaria. I had all symptoms related to Malaria and I am pretty convinced that it was Malaria. I am now ok, all is well. Though, I had prepared my presentation before, I spent my whole weekend in pain and by Monday you can be assured I almost forgot about the Wednesday presentation.

Sørmarka Youth Camp

I receive a quick reminder from FK and on Tuesday evening, I was heading to Oslo where I spent my night at the hotel and then joined the rest of the participants on Wednesday at Sørmarka. Meeting all the new participants and of course seeing the rest of the FK staff was a great pleasure for me, then we gathered ready for the opening of the Youth Camp.

Kirsti Bergstø (left) and Nita Kapoor

A short speech from Nita Kapoor, the FK Director General, then the State Secretary, Kirsti Bergstø who officially declared the FK Youth Camp open. “I am very pleased to welcome so many wonderful young people to this Youth Camp arranged by FK Norway. I’m impressed by the fact that you are almost 100 participants from 15 different countries. All of you are picked to represent your organizations in an exchange that will be able to change you, shape your life and the choices you will make in the future. With your choices and your contribution you will be able to change society. I warmly welcome you to Norway” said Kirsti in her welcoming speech.

Nita Kapoor took to the stage again and assured the participants that this was a worthy course that should create a change both “on the ground and in their minds”. With such an assurance from the boss, the participants and the staff looked forward to their next tasks. At this time, I was feeling a little better than the past days. I walked past the corridors where the participants had a choice of signing for two of the workshops, and I realized “ooops, the blogging list is full for both sessions, at least 25 participants for each session!”. That gave me gitters but I encouraged myself, “I will make it.”

Participants at a workshop.

Workshops

After lunch, afternoon session started with FK’s colleagues Thomas and Anne doing a quick run with the social media before we finally set to our respective workshop rooms. It is always a challenge to have participants converge for anything serious especially after lunch. Many tend to dose-off so that kinda worried me, hence opted to stay away from technical stuff as well as trying my best to make the session interactive. It went on well I presume.

Three hours later I was done but with a severe headache, still that did not stop me from attending the rest of the activities that followed. A story telling session with one of the best story-teller in Norway, Marit Hallen, then the barbecue party and the food was just good. The waiters were extremely humorous; they had some really big potatoes. “This is too big, can I get a smaller one?” a participant asked. “Why a smaller one, you need this then you grow bigger,” said one of the waiters.

FK Facilitators at the Youth Camp.

Then, a bonding session with the Kenyan participants before they headed for a football match, then swimming at the nearby lake and finally at the Jacuzzi. They all looked satisfied with day one at the camp and looked forward to the following day.

Development Issues

Day two of FK Youth Camp started well, with a lot of energy and of course the facilitator Professor Dan Banik from the University of Oslo was really exciting and interactive, agenda-Development issues. I felt really home especially when he tackled issues to do with hunger and famine. That reminded me of the current situation in the northern part of Kenya where millions of people are suffering from hunger, and hence the birth of the “Kenyans for Kenya Initiative” that has seen Kenya raise over 500 million shillings to help Kenyans in Turkana.

Lunch time at the Youth Camp

Lunch break, then in the afternoon I had a chance to attend some of the workshops, Power and Conflict, Gender and Human Rights. Then, NRK calling, I had an early recording to do on Friday, so I had to head back to Kristiansand, if not for that you can be assured I would have spent more time at the youth camp. It was a learning session for me too; I got to learn from other participants, facilitators and to be part of change in the world. I can therefore confidently say, I am shaping the future and I am excited to do it. Tusen Takk FK Norway, if I can speak on behalf of the other participants, we feel lucky and we are humbled to be among the lucky few to get such an opportunity.

Good luck to all exchange participants!! 

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