Interviews, to aquatic pollutants, to wine: Our EJWP2 training week in Colmar, France

By Merel Mostert 

After weeks of hard work on our project for the University of Nis, it was time for the next stop: Colmar, France, for our Training Week!  

Kicking off on Monday, we had to finalize and present our project on the urban stormwater runoff management system. For that, our client even came to Colmar to attend our presentation and delivery of the assessment tool.  

Now complete, our EJWP2 group put its energy on the next project. This began with an introduction of the host organization ACTeon and an explanation of aquatic pollutants. Since part of our project assignment is about interviewing people, staff with our host organization, ACTeon assisted by showing what type of preparation is required to lead a good interview. We followed some role play with some do’s and don’ts, which were actually quite helpful. In the afternoon, we got a lovely and very informative tour through Colmar, and our first group dinner followed that evening. 

On Tuesday we had our first training day on personal resilience and agility. One exercise was to guide another person that was blindfolded. This provides an idea on how much detail a person can skip to describe, while another person really needs that information to go the same direction. The training also focused on skills and abilities, and how a leader can adapt to situations. In the afternoon, we had several role plays to experience this ourselves. We applied some of our training in analysis that evening with the Intervision method reviewing our previous project and what aspects of it could have been improved. 

On Wednesday our training day was focused more on agility. It showed how the VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is developing and that things often don’t really go as planned. In the morning, we had a team exercise outside. This was a sort of spectacle to see because some of the team are very competitive. Our afternoon was focused on learning agility such as change agility, mental agility, people agility and results agility. We came away from this with some useful insights and tools.  

After all the agility exercises, it was time for the next assignment: French regional wine tasting! But to get to this, we had to bike through the beautiful vineyards of Elzas. When arrived, we had a tour through the winery and the wine-making process. After that, it was time to taste! The wines and food there were delicious and our path to this point was well worth it!  

On Thursday we headed to the protected natural area of Petite Camargue Alsacienne for a guided tour. The ranger showed us all the positive differences that have changed since they could expand the park, including a nice example of giving a river more space. After the hiking tour, we had lunch in the older part of the park. A field presentation from ACTeon followed on aquatic pollutants and how ACTeon carries out its work.  

We began Friday with focus on our next project concerning aquatic pollutants. First things were clear explanations on how to interview and what was expected from us. We then practiced our new interview skills on ACTeon staff. In the afternoon, we set up the project plan, made a planning for the upcoming weeks, and finalized working drafts.  

After this intense, but great, week, it was time to go home! ACTeon was an inspiring host organization, Colmar was a great place – and of course our group created its own great atmosphere!  

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