The project ChangeMakers aims to enhance sustainable development, cross-border collaboration, circular economy and entrepreneurship skills among 15- to 17-year-old students. Students from Finland (incl. Åland), Sweden, Estonia and Latvia will participate in solving real-life environmental challenges provided by the business sector.
The first ChangeMakers Bootcamp was organized as a two-day online event on the 26.–27th October in Finland (incl. Åland), Sweden, Latvia and Estonia due to Covid-19 pandemic. Over 120 participants, teachers, students of upper secondary and vocational schools, project partners and company representatives participated in the event. The moderators of the organizing partner Riga Technical University ensured that the students had both fun and a meaningful learning experience.
During the two-day event, the participants learned about cross-border communication and teambuilding. Moreover, they were introduced to 14 sustainability challenges, which had been planned in the project in cooperation with local companies and organizations.
The students were activated by using several online tools such as online voting applications, online platforms and team meeting rooms.
As a result, 27 international mini start-ups were established. The mini start-ups will come up with business solutions to the environmental challenges as a part of their studies in the ChangeMakers study module.
The organizer and project partner Riga Technical University representatives Arta Pastora and Adele Sāmite recall that “ChangeMakers Riga Bootcamp was the first opportunity for the students involved in the project to meet each other before they start working together. Due to the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic it seemed a little bit sad that they could not meet in person, but we think we did the best we could to make this first meeting experience as close to “face to face” communication as it could have been”.
The participants were impressed by the smoothness of the Bootcamp despite of an online environment. Based on the discussions in local venues, the students of the mini start-ups were looking forward to meeting students from other countries, enhancing their language and communication skills and learning about entrepreneurship.
Project worker Katri Moisio from the University of Turku, the lead partner of the project, states that “Events, such as the Bootcamp are essential when building an international student mini company, as they give the students a chance to meet their international colleagues in an environment that emphasizes creativity and entrepreneurial thinking and ensures a safe and motivational start for future collaboration.”
Even though ideally such events happen face to face, ensuring encounters that leave a mark on each student, therefore also boosting the feeling of community and teamwork, the students performed very well in a digital environment.
“ChangeMakers students already showed that they can think outside the box and successfully start building team spirit, even though the encounters between students were digital. The online BootCamp turned out to be a real success and the student interaction and involvement were greater than any of us could have expected”.
The ChangeMakers project (2020 – 2022) is a Central Baltic Interreg funded project. In addition to the lead partner University of Turku, the project partners include Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK), Tallinn University of Technology (Taltech), Stockholm University, Riga Technical University and Åland’s vocational high school.
More about the project: https://sites.utu.fi/changemakers/
Text: Nina Savela
Pictures: Minna Keinänen-Toivola, Laura Ende, Navid Ghajarnia, Jana Lemberg, Arta Pastora, Katrin Kaur