23 May, Thursday
11° C

Proakatemian esseepankki

ELE – Motorola

Kirjoittanut: Saana Keränen - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 6 minuuttia.

Kaisa Oksala and I arrived to Santigo Chile about two months ago. The first week we spent settling in and meeting with the coaches here to plan what is ahead. We are taking two general courses but our main focus is on ELE, the new team learning program that started this semester. Our role here is to act as “community tutors”, helping the students build ELE community, the coaches with adapting the team learning method and in general just sharing our experience and knowledge about team learning.

The first three days, from the 8th to the 10th of march were orientation days for the new students, planned by us and the coaches. We introduced the dialogue circle straight away and did everything in a “fragua” (fragua is what we named paja’s here) type of form. These first days included discussions about what the program will be about and some fun activities. Team building, creativity and things that pushed the team to step out of the comfortable “student bubble.”

After the orientation days from the 13th of march onward the program and our daily studies started. To me that means general courses three times a week, taking part in “team learning” fraguas once a week and hosting “community workshops” two times a week. On top of these, we are having meetings with the coaches and students whenever needed and attending other fraguas when we can. Since we are still figuring things out and trying to find the ways we can be helpful to the program, schedules are changing a lot.


What has gone well?

The biggest positive has for sure been how willing the students are to work and how knowledgeable they seem to already be. Unlike in Proakatemia, the students that start in ELE have already been studying for BBA for three years so the starting point is quite different. The students are more than ready to start working and doing something different from usual business studies. I was personally prepared for there to be more confusion and even frustration about the lack of clear structure, but the whole team has been very willing to adapt.


What could have gone better?

A reoccurring theme these past two weeks has been confusion. Confusion about what is happening and when. About what topics belong where. Is this topic a “team matter” or is it about the company or part of community work? Is it too early to talk about certain topics? What needs to be done before certain things can be decided on? These things might seem obvious, at least to us they did at first when just discussing things in theory. Once we’ve gotten to the actual practice things aren’t as self-explanatory at all. For example, being able to define the difference between team and community and keeping those things separate has proven to be a difficult task when the reality is that there is only one team and that one team is supposed to be building the community as well. In one of our community workshops, we started discussing the structure of ELE and building community teams. Pretty soon we realized that at least some of the teams that were forming more resembled the divisions inside a company, like HR and financing, rather than community-level things. A more precise plan for each step of the program and just “forcefully” following that could have made things more simple. On the other hand I feel that working with the needs of the students and everyone involved is just part of the methodology and a little confusion is to be expected.

A part of why everything has felt quite chaotic at times is for sure my own attitude towards things. Since I understand that confusion is something to be expected and that the work culture and the way things are done here is different, I have perhaps leaned on that even a bit too heavily. A lot of things are done last minute and plans are sometimes just thrown out of the window. I have told myself that that is just how things are done here and honestly at times just used that as an excuse for not pushing things forward.

One crucial element of all of this is that the program is in Spanish. And no, I don’t really speak Spanish. We were told multiple times that people here do not speak English all that well, but we still were not completely prepared for how great the language barrier would be. The team has been very welcoming towards us and making an effort to speak English, they are actually quite excited about the opportunity to learn, but communication is still difficult at times. Learning more Spanish beforehand would have been the smart thing to do. I personally am able to understand more and more each day, but the step from that to speaking a new language feels like a big one.

As I mentioned before, many things have turned out to be much more complicated in practice than they were in theory. This is why I feel we had not planned for enough of a structure for working with the coaches’ team and that has also made things more difficult. When things have not gone as planned or new questions have come up, we have not had enough opportunities to have meetings or check-ups with the coaches. In Proakatemia coaches’ are usually there during the day and it’s easy to schedule a quick meeting or even just have a talk in the hallways when you have questions, but here it’s quite different. ELE does not have as clear of a space of it’s own and the coaches’ are also really busy with other courses they are teaching etc, so having meetings and just time to talk about and reflect on things together is challenging. Also the only communication channel really used is WhatsApp, which feels difficult. Suddenly I have grown to appreciate teams greatly..


What have I learned?

Even in this short time, this trip has definitely come with a lot of learnings. Getting the opportunity to basically start the whole Proakatemia journey again from the start, at least in the role of an observer for a brand new team has thought me to see “the prosses” in a whole new way. It’s amusing to realise that the things that might frustrate me with the way the team is working, are exactly the same things Flip was doing in the beginning. We are leaving for the first fragua en la playa (mökkipaja) soon and the planning for that has seemed quite chaotic. Different tasks were divided for almost everyone in the team, but then those tasks and all their details were still discussed in fragua and everyone seemed to have something to say. Even though this is fine when the end result is still a successful trip, it does show the lack of trust that is still present in the team.

Because of the different style of working and the language barrier, there are quite many situations where I have to deal with uncertainty. At times something will be discussed at length right in front of me but the translation I get is two sentences long. I have had to learn to just “go with the flow” and be okay with not having a say in some things.

What will I take into action?

Throughout this whole time here, we have made it a point to stay very reactive and develop our ways of working as we go. So far we have started to have weekly “ELE tutors” meetings where we meet with the coaches to discuss what is going on and to think together about how to move forward. We are right now working on finding a better way to conduct the “community workshops”, so far we have been having one-hour-long workshops two times a week but we have seen that an hour is just not enough to make any real progress. The students have a very strict schedule, but we are finding ways to reorganise.

Throughout our time here, I have unfortunately felt like there has not been enough time to give and receive feedback or to reflect together on how things are going. The action I need to take there is to simply be more “pushy” and create the space.

From a solely personal perspective, I need to take action in learning more Spanish. Learning a third language has always been something I want to do and now I have the perfect opportunity for that. While here I also want to improve my skills in networking and again use the opportunity I have to create networks internationally.


In conclusion, the program is moving forward and finding its way. I have had to remind myself often that my expectations are very high and even if they are not being met that does not mean that progress isn’t happening. I can’t expect things to work as smoothly in a brand-new organisation as they do in one that has existed for over 20 years.