Spain – January 2018

Meeting in Gijon

During 8-13th of January the group of 24 participants from four partner organizations took part in a course in Gijon which subject was dedicated to Lego Serious Play method and gamification, especially in context of working with migrants, asylum seekers and host communities.

On the FIRST DAY we were busy with travelling to our destination – a beautiful town in the principality of Asturias of Northern Spain and then getting to know each other on the dinner as well as discussing the whole week’s agenda.

The SECOND DAY started with introduction to workshop about usage of Lego bricks. Lego Serious Play method was developed at the end of XX century by Swiss scientists together with employees of Danish company which produces the most famous bricks all over the world. The goal was to elaborate a methodology of employees’ higher engagement as well as to create a planning system for companies. From 2010 this method is available by open licenses and is successfully used in work with various groups. In our case we started by introducing ourselves with help of bricks construction. Afterwards, having only several elements, we were asked to prepare an ideal model of a… duck! Jokes at the beginning backed off when we heard the next request – in groups, we need to point out constructions less similar to a duck and to choose the only one duck-“role” model. The exercise showed different attitudes of participants: some of them were relativizing, pointing out not obvious, but still a beauty of certain models, others - strictly following the rules. While some of participants were cheering on their own models, the others were nervous about that their works would not be rejected. The aim of the exercise was to learn how to find a way to understand each other in a big multicultural group. The rest of the day we spent by exploring a beautiful port town which Gijon is.

The THIRD DAY was also divided into workshop part and a study visit. Before noon we were continuing getting familiar with Lego Serious Play method. This time we were asked to choose a certain amount of Lego bricks but not knowing what for. It appeared that their purpose was to help us to build within limited time frames a tower with plain base and topped with a spire. Building’s durability test was conducted by lifting it by holding the highest element and keeping hold of it for a moment.

The next exercise was also individual – our task was to describe a portrait of a perfect colleague (in other words: with whom we would like to work in our organisations) and then representing her or him with Lego bricks. Meaning of colors, forms, abstraction or realism, solutions more or less similar to human beings – that all depended on participants’ imagination. Then in groups we were supposed to gather a general picture which would correspond with a picture of each group member. Discussion about our „perfect colleagues” we left for the next day as a culmination of using Lego Serious Play method.

After a break we went to the FIRST STUDY VISIT to the Hogar de San Jose Foundation which helps children coming from broken families. We had an opportunity to talk with therapists, watch a film and to learn about the conditions in the centre. We were also asking about helping orphans who are coming to Spain with migration waves.

We were expecting the FOURTH DAY to be very intensive as it actually appeared to be in the end. Its first part we spent at charity organisation Mar de Niebla which is leading a Community Centre in a building of former supermarket. The variety of activities as well as target groups are impressive – starting with advisory assistance considering matters of employment, to courses developing different skills (inter alia computer, sewing, bike repairing courses), finishing with providing a Youth Centre aimed at youngsters at risk of exclusion. Discussions about every activity lasted long, and our interest was caught by a beautiful bedroom in the middle of the old hall. Those of us who are working with film and video suggested that the organization is renting the location for film-making, the others had different, less correct associations. It appeared that the bedroom is a part of a whole flat which is a training flat for families recovering from homelessness or those overcoming barriers in functioning. We were under a huge impression of the energy and working ways in the visited organization.

The second part of the day began with introduction to gamification. We were reflecting on how new technologies and popularity of mobile internet can reach those groups for whom it’s an obvious thing – kids and youngsters. Applications which can ease a work with people who are not “speaking” that language and which can help in facilitator’s or teacher’s work were presented. We tested their effectiveness on our own – examples which were prepared by a host Roberto Huerta Martinez quickly got us into a competition and learning. After the gamification session we presented our “perfect colleagues” created a day before in groups. We were also discussing about team work and creativity stimulation but also about conflict resolution or insisting on your own in context of used method.

On the FIFTH DAY visited Universidad Laboral in Gijon which is… the biggest building in the whole Spain! In the campus there are theater, museum and a tower located, and it is a brilliant example of monumental architecture of Franco’s tyranny period.

In the evening we met on the farewell dinner which of course consisted of local Asturias dishes. We had an opportunity to summarize the acquired knowledge during our informal conversations. Evaluation session took place the last day, which was also the day when everybody was returning to their homes.