Late 2017, I had just finished a Polish language class at ASW and was walking out the door when Elin tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to join her in setting up an initiative called hwa-Poland. A slightly vague but seemingly noble cause, I had no other occupation at the time, so I said yes. For me, the last couple of years have been a journey of exploration beyond my trusted field of science and an opportunity to get to know people from other walks of life and nationalities.
A lot of time and effort goes into the preparation of events for our members and looking back, tremendous progress has been made since we first kicked off an event in my living room! It has been fun, interesting and rewarding in many ways; driving all over Warsaw to find suitable venues, sourcing appropriate speakers, attending planning meetings as well as preparing event invitations, maintaining Facebook and creating a website, a team effort of course! During this time, I have applied my planning and attention to detail skills acquired during my scientific career, to HWAG.
After two years, I feel that it is time now for me to check-in with my personal direction and re-revisit the areas that will enable me to learn and grow further. I intend to dedicate more time to learning Polish and to brush up on hard skills related to my expert field. I also find that with aging parents, I need to spend more time with them too. So, for me, what appears to be “doing less” will actually be “doing more” by allowing the time to deep dive into the areas close to my heart.
Looking back on my time with the Poland planning team, the skill that I will take away, above all else, is the art of “good” communication; especially amongst people from different nationalities. In conversation, which usually takes place in English, it is so important to slow down and check for mutual understanding, particularly when cultural behaviors, beliefs and interpretations underpin what is being said in a common language such as English! I think learning to operate in a global setting has been the most valuable experience that I take away from working with hwa-Poland. I can thoroughly recommend that anyone with any transferable skills, take the opportunity to volunteer for hwa-Poland, guaranteed to be a very rewarding learning experience in team work and event planning.
I would like to thank all those wonderful people who have helped me over that last two years: Elin, Margaret-Ann, Jacqueline, Louise and Ji for bringing their endless patience and enthusiasm to each aspect of our events. It is now time for me to hand the baton over to the next generation of hwa-Poland and let new and fresh ideas propel the project to the next level! Wishing you all the best.
- Anahita Wilson