Written by Busayo Ige
The Finland CASO staff meeting was an intensive week of engagement and collaborative work at a multilateral level. The staff meeting, with a specific focus on deliverables, provided great opportunities to meet other professionals and academics with similar passions and interests from both the Western Cape and the EU. Personally, the nature of the interactions and engagements paved the way for a clearer understanding of the CASO project, particularly the collaborative aspect of it, as well as a better understanding of the three project strands and their interconnectedness. The Patient Partner Programme took a centre stage with the successful Intercultural Communication workshop. Key concepts from the workshop, such as low and high cultural context, ‘face’ and intercultural vs cross-cultural became ‘famous’ and were injected in both formal and informal interactions that followed.
The highlight of the week for me was the visit to a public primary school in Lahti. It was powerful to see how inequality and inequity is far removed from the community through what Finland has done with its public schools nationwide. It was a very emotional moment for me as I compared it to the state of our public schools. But it has also become a ray of hope for what is possible.
The Ice hockey event was also spectacular and a fantastic way to end the week. It was my first time watching Ice Hockey LIVE. The event created the opportunity for us to experience regular Finnish people at a different level and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
As with everything in life, there are strengths and weakness, and overall I felt this was a successful CASO meeting. I was reminded of the fact that the issue of inclusion is of global importance and yet, it is equally important to localize it.