Nothing could describe the online training event “2020: A EUROAVIA Odyssey” better than these words from one of the participants: “There are some experiences that stay with you forever… This journey was one of those!”. Engaging training sessions, exciting moments shared with new friends from all over Europe, a physical event atmosphere, these are only a few of the successes of the Odyssey.
Every year in November, the Formation Workshop, one of EUROAVIA’s soft skills events, is supposed to take place. However, due to the pandemic, it became impossible to host it this year. The EUROAVIA Training System Working Group (ETS WG) came up with a solution for this: organizing an online one. Although trainers of the ETS WG are not strangers to online deliveries thanks to the Online Training Wave’s sessions, organizing and holding such an event was a bit of a challenge, due to the difficulty to adapt training sessions to platforms like Zoom. The result, however, surpassed the expectations of everyone, both participants and trainers.
The event was three weeks long, from the 28th of November to the 17th of December, and twenty people were selected among the applicants to join this adventure. Guided by a trainers’ team, the participants had to complete this challenge with the help of the soft skills learned during the sessions. Every week consisted of three different trainings and a milestone meeting with the purpose of checking the progress of the project and reviewing the soft skills topics, followed by a group reflection.
What challenge did they have to complete? Although it might not have been an easy one, it was definitely fun, more precisely... making a movie! The participants proved their talents by making the script, acting, editing, and composing music for the whole project. The scenes were filmed both outside and online, using Zoom with backgrounds. The participants’ acting fitted the plot perfectly. The result: a 31-minute film worthy of winning the EUROAVIA Oscars.
The six trainers supported and guided the participants through the event by organizing meetings to evaluate the development of the project and assess future needs, besides delivering sessions that would help the unity and the efficiency of the team. The topics delivered were teambuilding, project management, decision making, time management, public speaking, conflict and stress management and creative thinking. These sessions had the purpose of improving one’s personal and professional life while making the learning process fun and engaging. However, it wasn’t just the participants that learned something new. The learning process is always bidirectional, and with every session the trainers learned how to better adapt the topics to the participants’ needs and how to create a safe space that everyone felt comfortable sharing. Such a thing wouldn’t have been possible without the participants’ constant enthusiasm, openness and meaningful inputs.
Being an International Event, we had to respect the EUROAVIA traditions, so an online Spirits Night was mandatory. It was a great opportunity to enjoy a bit of the intercultural atmosphere, with traditional foods and drinks, music and dance.
We received amazing feedback from the participants, for instance: “I've liked the atmosphere that built up between people”, “I enjoyed the great atmosphere of the sessions and the great level of knowledge the trainers were able to impart on us”, “We talked about so many different and wide arguments that are very important in our lives and that sometimes we tend to underrate”, “For me, it was a perfect challenge for an online workgroup and I think we all enjoyed doing it”, “It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life together with travels” and we concluded that the only thing left to do is having a meeting with the same group in the near future.
The beauty of the International Events held by EUROAVIA consists of creating new bonds and sharing happy memories, and the Odyssey surely succeeded in doing so. Once again, we were proven that the most important elements are the people, and that the EUROAVIA spirit can surpass the boundaries set by the online environment. And so, we enter the new year with the belief that no matter what the future holds for us, we will be able to create something meaningful out of it.
There is only one thing left to say now: “See you around Europe!”.