Written by Maxwell Taylor
My first time traveling to Krakow Poland will always have a special place in my heart. While attending Serve the City’s annual international forum, I met a ‘boat load’ of new STC volunteers from all over Europe, with different experiences from their respective cities, participated in team-building activities, and helped volunteer at local places in Krakow, giving back to the community.
During my first day at the forum, we focused on why we were coming together, and we reflected upon what we have accomplished as an organization since its inception. Something that was special to me was how everyone was committed to coming together and improving the organization as a whole. We shared our experiences in our given cities and compared and contrasted what had worked for us and what had not. One thing that opened the door for me is how I view ‘cause and effect’ scenarios as a LOGIC model, a concept that I was unfamiliar with prior. The basis of this model was to look at the relationship between a program’s resources, activities, and its intended effects. We applied this thinking to projects that we had completed in the past that didn’t go according to plan, and thought about how we could reframe the situation to be more beneficial. After running through these workshops we ‘divided & conquered’. Our collective group was split into five teams, and we each took on different tasks around the city of Krakow. These tasks ranged from painting a fence for a school, washing windows in an orphanage, helping with yard work, and cleaning classrooms at different schools around Krakow. I found this very rewarding. All the tasks that we completed, will have a lasting positive impact on the schools, and at the same time, I built a strong camaraderie with other volunteers.
On the second day of the Forum, we focused on leadership, networking, and team culture. We were lucky enough to have David Wawrzyniak, a consultant from the Center for Creative Leadership, who joined us on both days to educate us about the different values of leadership. My favorite part of the forum was the networking portion. During this time, I learned to be more introspective about the kind of connections I make. It learned how important it is to diversify the different types of contacts one has in different areas of importance to one’s life. For example, instead of only looking for mutual connections at the company I work, I need to think about how to expand my focus to the different social events I participate in also.
Later that day during the afternoon session we had the opportunity to join one of three workshops. I chose to attend the team culture workshop, where I learned about the importance of cultivating and spotlighting specific traits that bring a team together such as trust and inclusivity.
I am thankful for Serve the City giving me an opportunity to join this forum as I highly recommend the work they do to try and make the world a better place. It all starts with the people you work with, and then finding ways to make the organization more productive at ‘giving back’ to our communities. Overall, I look forward to implementing the variety of skills I learned at the STC International Forum, as I have no doubt this will stick with me for the rest of my life.