EJWP2 Participants have been online, since their start in November 2020, for training, networking and coordinating projects – until last week when they met in person for the first time. These young professionals from water organizations in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, and Spain came together for an EJWP Training Week from 13 – 17 September hosted by Delfland (a Dutch Water Board) in Delft, the Netherlands. Delfland is not a new organization for EJWP since next to participant Merel Mostert in Group 2, also Mathilde de Jongh in Group 1 hosted a group in September 2019.
It was a packed Training Week! See the highlights of what our participants experienced as they exchanged knowledge and ways of working from their countries and organizations:
Monday kicked off with a tour and a staff meet at Delfland, along with a presentation of the group project with De Watergroep, Potable Reuse: The New Drinking Water Infrastructure. Participants went on to visit the historic Hoofdgemaal Berkel Dutch canal on their way for a guided tour with Q&A at the wastewater treatment plant at Harnaschpolder.
“The most valuable thing for me in the Training Week was a good cooperation between teams, which is a big step towards success. Collaboration between different countries and working methods leads to useful new opportunities and exchanges of experiences in the water sector,” said Borko Radivojević from Serbia.
On Tuesday, participants met with EJWP trainer & coach, Jennifer Cronick, for exercises in personal and professional development to unlock potential in specific areas of their careers. The value of cooperation and diversity in social systems was also in focus to help bridge gaps in international communication methods.
“For me, the most valuable part of the training is the personal development. It helps me to become more flexible, understand group interactions and know how to cooperate better. This is essential for my work, because water management is so transversal and requires lots of collective work,” said Manon Berge from France.
Day 3 on Wednesday was a beach day for participants. Well, this was actually an extremely productive day of team exercises and additional training along the North Sea shore in Scheveningen, Netherlands. Organization structures in team building and international water cooperation strategies took center stage in training, and then participants put their European blends of teamwork into practice as they used a range of supplied materials – and limited instruction – to construct an aquaduct in the sand.
“The focus on interdisciplinary work is the most valuable in the training. It showed that a small group of international people can already make a big difference in the water sector, just by working together,” said Merel Mostert from the Netherlands.
Day 4 on Thursday brought broadcast communications and water-culture awareness practice, along with lots of movement back at the beach. Applied communication exercises designed for EJWP kicked off the morning at the Climate Studio of the Museon in The Hague. Global hotspots and topics of value were wrapped into strategies of engaging audiences. A demanding Pullka full-body workout trek through the sandy Dutch dunes started the afternoon created the Dune Expedition, and then a beach cleanup in partnership with the North Sea Foundation of the Netherlands. Their work was rewarded that evening with a networking dinner on the beach for participants and local organization guests
“It was an engaging Training Week. The first training on location, allowing us to get to know Delfland and its activities. It is striking to see that other companies in the water sector are facing similar challenges, which makes networking more accessible, fascinating and useful,” said Benjamin Hermans from Belgium.
Even though the packed Training Week was coming to a close on Day 5, participants met back at Delfland re-energized and working more efficiently as a team. These new European water sector colleagues began work on their next group project focusing on bathing (swimming) water quality in inland waterways. The development and collaboration continues!
“The experience of this week was beyond all expectations. You cannot overstate the value of meeting in person after pandemic restrictions. Young professionals need to see and feel what is happening outside of their own work spheres, and interact with the people who are a part of it. I’m proud of what our participants are accomplishing, and I’m certain they will share value from this week in their work roles of their home country organizations,” said Naomi Timmer, Director of EJWP.