improvement by error

new generation of youth working in the catering workshop
new generation of youth working in the catering workshop

In summer 2019 ApeaL, a romanian NGO located in Bucharest, organized a new informal educative event for youth in the villages around Ciocanesti. It was the 10th edition of this summer school.

Serban Moldoveanu, the founder of CTS / ApeaL, invited me to offer a special workshop. According to my last contribution in 2018 – a workshop about lyrics only for girls – i proposed a workshop catering only for boys.

catering workshop - working in a team
catering workshop – working in a team

The workshop took place in the garden and open kitchen of Serbans property, which he used for a daily plenum after the summer school. This gathering of trainers and members of the management team – all recuited as youth out of the last years workshops – is always starting with a lunch.

My offer was, to organise this catering with youth as a workshop, challenging the mentality of the romanin boys a bit.

But it was also a challenge for myself.

Every day arround 10.30 am we started with cleaning up the workspace. Every day we talked about cleaning hands and tools and the responsability to cook for a number of staff members running the summer school as trainer of manager.

Every day we placed the raw food and herbs in order ( mostly 3 or 4 course menues). Every day we decided a responsible person for every course.

catering workshop - preparing for lunch in time
catering workshop – preparing for lunch in time

Every day we finished our task at 1.30 pm ready to serve the lunch.

My first challenge was the budget. As many NGOs ApeaL stick on private sponsors and personal engagement and one big donation didnt arrived.

Another challenge was the daily uncertanty about the guests we have to host for the lunch. We calculated for 30 menues, bit finally we had between 33 and 47 muenues per day.

The most challenging circumstance was not to know who would join my workshop. So every day we had a surprise, who was showing up. Beside a young guy named Robert and in the second week another guy named David there was no stability in the group, beside my brave and entusiastic german assistent Luzia.

Even a free translater was not in place every time.

The error is the source of innovation.

Juan Petry

This workshop was also a big challenge for all team members. Every day at a fixed time we had to be prepared for the guests, no second chance, no excuses. Doesnt mapper what happened before, we had to work out a tasty and healthy solution for all.

This summer school, as many other educative initiatives in the field of informal learning, was an eye opener for me. The uncertanty about my staff crew explained me a fundamental difference in organising informal educational events. The kids where moving from one workshop to another. Like cherry picking they moved independent through all workshops and decided day by day where they wanted to show up.

And this seems to be not a fault, it seems to be a key feature of informal education.

Nevertheless we had every day enough youth in the team, even some girls shoed up and helped a lot.

I was not upset about this, because it gave me another chance to rewire the classical mentality in my own mindset a bit. These girls where looking boys in the kitchen working intensivly in having a good lunch for everybody. They get a real image from a boy putting onions or cleaning dishes and tools on the way to prepare the food.

David is cutting the salad
David and colleges are cutting the salad

Maybe these young woman will return in more classical orientated families, they will never forget the image of a boy cleaning and supporting actively the daily task of preparing the food.

One side effect of the workshop was even challenging the guests: no meat! The totally vegetarian food was accepted and we did our best to accomplish the mission by adding nice desserts and cakes and interesting variations of salads and vegetables.

We also started a documentation of this workshop for future summer schools as a blue print. We served more than 350 menues in 10 days of the workshop.

3-4-5 courses for 30-47 people
3-4-5 courses for 30-47 people

Lets put it in a quizz:
1. How many water we used for this (cleaning, cooking, drinking)?
2. How many waste we generated(paper, glas,plastic)?
3. How many manpower (hours per person) we spend on this catering at all (including shopping)?
4. How may money we spend per menue (3 or 4 or 5 courses)?

I will answer these questions in a later post 🙂 (link will be placed here)

daily gathering and plenum of the ApeaL summer school
daily gathering and plenum of the ApeaL summer school

Every day after lunch we came together for a plenum session to discuss the activities and challenges of the day and to place some requirements facing the management team. Part of it was also a direct feedback for our workshop result: in general they liked it a lot, especially sweet cakes amd fresh salads. Some where maybe to shy to apply for meat but everybody accepted the outcome.

I calculated with a group of 6 youth, in average i had 7, because of jumping from one workshop to another finally more tha 25 youth worked for one or more days in our team.

A lot of times we ask ourselves about the sustainable results of such an event, mostly trainers are motivated by having a change, a kind of development comparing start and end of a workshop. It was totally unpredictable what the real outcome will be. We will not know now, if it was a single event in the life of these boys or an important gate to develop in a certain different direction.

The only thing we are able to see is the growth of all these copii di Ciocanesti over the years, forming a happy family in time and enjoying the summer school, again and again.

Thanks to Luzia for extraordanary engagement and powerful support, Serban for making it possible to get such great moments in life, Pic for a huge ammount of hidden support and the great Laura for guiding the entusiastic boys day by day and translation work. Thanks also to Ioana for spending so much hours of private time to guide and help. And thanks to Rodica and Familiafeliz to sponsor this workshop.

And thanks to my private social network which is supporting me in delivering these workshops without fear and economical tension, like Antje & Corinna, Eddy & Angela, Cecile, Clara, Oana, Anita, Sorina, Francesc and Raquel. All these are my big heros of social entrepreneurship and a big light in the dark. Thank you for being part of my life!

For sure, its all about L.O.V.E.