International networking in the Tampere3 spirit
The 2008-started tradition of international weeks in TAMK got a new twist when at the beginning of the summer, all three higher education institutions in Tampere – the University of Tampere (UTA), Tampere University of Technology (TUT) and Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) – organised an International Staff Week for non-teaching staff together for the first time. The week hosted about 50 administrative staff members from higher learning institutes from around Europe, and the week and its activities took place on the premises of all three main campuses during June 12-15, 2017.
Understanding each other as the theme of the week
The theme of the week was Intercultural Communication and issues relating to the area. Hence, the programme included five hours of Intercultural Communication workshops by TAMK Lecturer Mari Rytisalo. During the workshops, the participants increased their knowledge and awareness of different cultures and their influence on communication.
The guests had an opportunity to benchmark different services and practices of the three universities and share views on topics related to their own work. In addition to the common workshops around intercultural communication, everyone chose a thematic track they wanted to attend. The tracks evolved around international cooperation, library services, student services & administration, and industry cooperation & career services.
The week started at the UTA premises, where the guests had a chance to get to know the main campus, the Demola concept and the concept of Y-campuses in the higher education scene in Tampere. Both concepts seemed to raise a lot of discussion and interest as strategically combining the higher education scheme with entrepreneurial studies and practice seems to be a topical issue all over Europe. As it was the first day of the week, the participants got a bath of Finnish language, too, when participating the crash course into Finnish by the university Lecturer Jenni Hakanen from TUT. Since everyone was a bit novice in the area and not at their core competencies when trying to speak Finnish, this was a fun way to break the ice within the group and everyone became a big family after this. And if the language lesson did not get everyone at ease, the Monttu get-together with its delicious buffet, fire show and international dancing (performers from within the group 😉 ) certainly did.
On the second night everyone got to experience the truly Finnish “hot sauna – cold lake experience” at Varala, and then on the third day, the week transferred to TUT and the Hervanta campus with the impressive Kampusareena building and recently renovated other premises. The guests discussed international security, got to experience some virtual reality gadgets and the group was able to examine the study services available on each campus a bit more. The Intercultural Communications workshop took the active group to the “heart” of Kampusareena by gathering the people to work at the Kampusklubi area. One of the staff members at Kampusklubi unknowingly defined the spirit of the week in one simple sentence: “It is mindblowing and great to hear such vivid discussions in so many languages at the same time with so much laughter in here.”
The final day of the week took the group to the TAMK Kuntokatu campus and the final lecture of the week; the subject was social media and the presenter Essi Kannelkoski, the Community Manager of TAMK. This very topical theme aroused a lot of discussion and interesting analysis. After the campus tour and the lecture, the engaging week was coming to an end: all but the certificates, farewell hugs and closing toasting with lunch was done.
Once-in-a-lifetime week and a new way of doing things together
In addition to the official discussions, workshops, benchmarking, et cetera, the week offered the guests an opportunity to gain once-in-a-lifetime experiences of Finnish culture, society and the Nordic White Nights at a sauna by a lake, naturally! As for the organisers, I think, it is safe to say that although a lot of work, the week offered us memorable events and a chance to be at the forefront of creating a new culture of “doing together” within the Tampere3 framework.
To finalise, a big thank you for all the international guests, the presenters, track organisers, logistic helpers and naturally UTA & TUT is in place! Hope to do this soon again!
Text: Tiina Nilsson
Photos: Essi Sirén, Annukka Hämäläinen, Saara Lehtonen, Tiina Nilsson