JCI European Academy 2017
The JCI European Academy is a weekend of training for incoming presidents. It gives the delegates attending insights into their personalities, along with their strengths and weaknesses. It also gives them lots of training and know how on how to be better leaders.
My Experience of the 2017 European Academy
I am not a morning person at the best of times, but having my alarm go off at 3.30 in the morning is pushing it, even for me! However, this was to allow me to get to Edinburgh Airport for my 6.00 am flight to Gothenburg via Amsterdam for the 2017 JCI European Academy. I arrived at the hotel a day early, as leaving on the Friday morning would have meant I would have missed the beginning of the Academy. I’m really pleased I did this, as I got to meet some of the other delegates who did the same, and had a chance to get to know them better.
It all officially kicked off during lunch on the Friday afternoon. We were introduced to our head trainer, as well as the indoor trainers and CoC team. We were given information to which I am sworn to secrecy, so I apologise now if some of this blog is a little vague! The reason for this is that we don’t want to spoil the surprise of what the format of the weekend takes for anyone who attends this event in future years.
After lunch, we got to meet our indoor trainers, Derek Reilly from JCI Ireland, and Ullrika Sellman from JCI Sweden. These two experienced JCI members were not just there to deliver the training material, but to also help guide our teams during our tasks. We also were then put in to our indoor teams, and mine was Team H. It included Hanna from Finland, Cinah from Turkey, Florian from Austria, Steen fro Denmark, Polina from Norway, Romana from Sweden, and Ann-Louise from Ireland.
Friday evening, we had a training course on our Insights profiles. It was an interesting course, finding out what each person’s personalities in work situations were. I will happily show anyone my profile, and anyone who knows me will not be surprised in the slightest by the results! I’ll let you tell me what you think my results are.
On Saturday, we had our out door training. We were put into separate groups of 12, one from each indoor group. Our group, group 2 had a short, but hilly, walk to the start point. We started with some exercises to allow us to get to know each other better. We were then introduced to the outdoor trainers, including JCI Edinburgh’s very own past president, Stuart Bradley. We started our team building exercises at the furthest away point, allowing our team to chat to each other more. The day consisted of 7 challenges, and in all honesty, they were more challenging than I thought they would be. However, after a few difficulties, our team then pulled together, and we worked so well together. We even completed the most difficult task that no other team managed! GROUP TWO AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!
After our amazing outdoor experience, our indoor teams were given our tasks for Monday morning. We had to prepare a 3 minute presentation with our team on a given subject. I won’t reveal what it was, as it will give away too much, but it was a good one. In the evening, we sat down and started preparing it, which I will be honest, was a challenge to me. These tasks are designed to make you challenge your own views and expectations.
Sunday was a full day of intense training, but it was so rewarding. Our trainers were really passionate about the course they were teaching us. I learnt so much from them. The courses themselves were interactive which allowed us to get more out of them.
Sunday evening, we had a BBQ up at the fortress of Fars Hatt, a stunning medieval building that was a 5 minute walk from the hotel. It was great after a full day of traning to relax, let off some steam, and enjoy the atmosphere. We all knew that we had a lot work to do on our presentations still, so it was a great chance to relax.
Sunday night was the biggest challenge of all over the whole weekend. At this point, the longest amount of sleep I had had was around 4 hours! Emotions were running high, but the ideas were flowing. We managed to get all our materials in before the 3am deadline, and continued working on the presentation details until 5 am. The 2 hours sleep that evening was no where near enough, but at this point, we were all running on adrenaline.
Monday morning at breakfast, we were all there in body, waiting for the caffeine to kick in! We were all nervous about the day, but we had done all we could have done. We went into to the presentation area, feeling apprehensive, but ready. We went on second last of the 12 teams, and I could not have been prouder of our team! Everything we had discussed went better than expected, everyone enjoyed themselves, and we got great feedback from the audience. It was amazing!
The afternoon was an interesting one, which again I can’t go in to details so as not to spoil it. Needless to say my already stretched emotions were stretched even further.
After the graduation that evening, we had our gala dinner. It was a chance to fully unwind, let our hair down, and relax. We all got up and danced to our theme song several times as well! You can ask me about that when you see me next…
What makes this the best experience of my JCI career?
Honestly, I loved my time at the JCI academy. I laughed, I cried, I was happy, I got frustrated, as well so many other emotions. Would I change it? Not for anything! I learnt a lot about myself, some good, some not so good. I will take these life lessons I learned with me forever.
One part I haven’t mentioned much, is the other delegates. We all went through this incredible experience together, and through that, we bonded in a way I have never experienced before. I have made some life long friends, who will help make my next JCI year an even better one.
If anyone would like more information on the Academy, or would like to attend it next year, get in touch with me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, or speak to me at any events coming up that I am at.
Here are some more photos from my weekend: