Advice from a Senior Friend to be
My time in the Swedish SCM and in WSCF Europe is coming to its end as I, at the age of 26, will become a “senior” friend. Although my age might not seem too impressive; I want to share a little of my supposed wisdom.
One thing I have been thinking about is the different levels of an organisation. How can the relationship be fruitful between the lower, broader level and the higher, narrower levels of the movement? This question, of course, applies to the Student Christian Movements, to our local groups, to the Federation and to the European Region of WSCF.
How do these levels belong together and how can the organisational structure be an advantage for the work of any level?
In my experience, some things are crucial for a vivid exchange in the organisational structure. The first thing is information. If a local SCM group lacks knowledge of its national and international belongings, the advantages of these levels will obviously be of no use for the local group. The information also has to go in the other direction. What happens in the local group? How can it be a resource for the larger community?
Here participation is important as well. The contact with other levels should not be the responsibility of few but instead an opportunity for many. It is important not just to offer the chance for each member to make national and international contacts, but to actively encourage this. An organisation with many personal contacts will also have the many chances for strong cooperation because it won’t be as weak as the engagement of only a few persons. This openness must be the responsibility of all parts of the organisation.
Another important factor is loyalty. Though there may be concerns about the work in other parts of the organisation, the sense of belonging should come first. When there is suspicion between the different levels and we start talking about each others as different bodies of organisation, we also break something in the identity of ourselves. We also need arenas for the exchange of ideas and values, so that we in a natural way can form the organisational identity through our relations.
The time a student is a student is often short. My vision is that any person entering a local group in one of the European movements should also find that the national and international level is close at hand. I wish that the perspectives from a global movement are easily percieved on the local level. And I hope it should be natural for any level and section of the organisation to feel nourished from the others.
-Marta Gustavsson has been involved in SCM Sweden for and volunteered with WSCF Europe in many capacities.