The month of February was a busy and highly educational month for the Field Band Foundation (FBF) staff members.
February kick-started with the Tutor Programme workshop, which was followed by the Social Officer workshop. Both workshops were organized and facilitated by the PULSE South Participants with the help of FBF Education facilitator Peter Maluleke. The workshops were hosted at the Container House in Parys next to the Vaal River.
The tutor Programme commenced on 14-02-2021 and it promised to be a week filled with music and the learning of productive skills, which enhances the tutor’s ability to do their work. There were 20 participants from 10 FBF bands, excited and ready to be engaged through music and leadership activities. Sessions started every morning with team-building activities to strengthen friendships and build trust amongst the participants. Other activities and lessons learned during the workshop were music arranging which was led by Khaya Benela, music theory led by Peter Maluleke and Khaya Benela, full-band session led by Tebogo Ntshole, and concert production led by Jacob Mhlapeng.
Previously, the goal of this programme was to upskill the newly appointed tutors with leadership skills and artistic knowledge, but in the most recent workshops, we also added topics like concert production, communication skills, creative writing, and events management. These topics will assist tutors in doing their work better in the FBF, as well as preparing them for work outside FBF.
Different follow-up tasks were given to the participants to do at home and when they get to their respective bands. These tasks will enable the participants to put everything they have learned into practice. Participants are expected to read their music theory, write and record a music piece that they will present in the next tutor workshop, as well as to create a ten-minute facilitation session based on everything that they have learned during the workshop.
The Social Officer(SO) workshop commenced on 28-Feb-2022, it was held at the Container House in the Free State. 11 participants from 10 bands were represented in this workshop, and after many years of having female SO, we were proud to have a male SO within the group. The workshop was facilitated by Tebogo Ntshole and Jacob, assisted by Khaya Benela and Peter Maluleke.
Various external facilitators were invited to facilitate several topics that will enable the SOs to be more effective and knowledgeable when executing their duties. Topics that were covered are coaching, life skills planning, doing and reporting sessions, team building, creating community resource lists and community mapping, how to facilitate LGBT+ guides, and most exciting; there was a Marimba playing session. In this session SO’s were allowed to learn how to play Marimba. This session pushed them out of their comfort zone as many of them had no musical experience.
Overall this workshop proved to be productive, as there is a big and visible improvement in the way the SOs report on the work that they did, and we are planning to do weekly virtual meetings to assist and give support to all the SOs.
Regardless of individual challenges and difficulties, all young people deserve to have equal opportunities when it comes to enjoying their musical hobbies, thriving at their chosen instrument, or even making it a career.
In fact, Article 31 of United Nation Convention on the Rights of Children states that children have the right to rest and leisure, the right to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. The UN Committee endorses the view «that it is through cultural life and the arts that children and their communities express their specific identity and the meaning they give to their existence.”
Children with disabilities may be hindered in various ways from participating freely. A drummer in a wheelchair may need practical assistance, a student with impaired learning abilities may need a little extra time and effort. Every child is an individual and has individual needs. These challenges can be overcome with the right tools and knowledge.
These are some of the issues tackled in a new article published on the NMF website this month.
Members of the PULSE team have been hard at work assisting in the making of the article, written by Guro Solbakken in cooperation with NMF.
2022 is well underway and so is the new PULSE team.
A hearty blend of people from the high North and the deep South, both experienced and fresh in the organization, the team appears to be getting along like a house on fire. The first couple of weeks working together were characterized by hundreds of smiles, thousands of pieces of knowledge, and millions of bytes of digital information.
In the year ahead this team will tackle tasks of both Field Band Foundation (FBF) and Norges Musikkorps Forbund (NMF) and will do so largely without meeting in person. After two years of a global pandemic, the digital workspace has been the new standard. This does not come without a set of challenges, even for the PULSE team which is accustomed to working across borders. Expressing personalities, humor, and office atmosphere in the digital realm is a different dynamic from what it is in the physical realm. But we adapt and we adjust and have learned that the digital workspace does not have to be lonely, nor does it have to be boring.
In 2022, the South Participants remain the same as last year with the quartet of Jacob Mhlapeng, Tebogo Ntshole, Khayalethu Benela, and Nomkhosi Mnisi making up the core, and the North Participants are Sofia Mahan, Nicholas Bahrawy who are now joined by Sara Brygfjeld, and Gorm Helfjord.
On November 27, the 20th-anniversary event was held. Distinguished guests and the honored alumni from Bands Crossing Borders (BCB) and PULSE gathered to reminisce, catch up and meet old friends. With the even being streamed in both Norway and South Africa, to each other gathering, we all got to see familiar faces of friends and colleagues.
The planning and nitty-gritty of this event have been going on for a while now, and on Friday 26, the PULSE north team met up to finalize the plans and go over the program. For some, Ingrid and Nicholas, it was the first time they met in person, marking that day as a special one as well. Saturday started early with meeting up at the event venue, Kulturhuset, where a room had been booked for most of the day. Before the alumni arrived to practice the music they were playing during the live stream of the event, time was spent decorating the room.
The PULSE north team, with the help of Rune Hannisdal and Birgitte Grong, blew up balloons, hung up lines of lights, decorated them with Flags, banners, and confetti. Also present was not one, but two Gira figures, one cannot have an event like this and not include our beloved Gira. Even dressed in their Bunad, the Norwegian national costume, Rune and Birgitte climbed ladders and stood on benches and tables to help hang up the different decorations.
After a few hours of decorating, the alumni started showing up, meeting a few hours before the event started to learn the music and basic choreography. The alumni chatted and mingled, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Since all of them have been a part of the exchange program, they all had something to talk about. Similar or different experiences, working with the same bands, training with the same people. The time was not spent practicing was almost exclusively used to talk and listen about each other’s experiences. Thulani Maluleka was the man in charge of the music during the event, and what energy that man brings! His energy and love for music rubbed off on anyone near him, and it showed in the alumni, who seemed to have a great time during the practice, as the laughter sat quite loose as they played, sang, and danced.
Not long before the event was scheduled to start, the most prominent guest arrived. The South African Ambassador to Norway, the distinguished Ms. Selaelo Ramokgopa. Her retinue and herself were met by Rune and Birgitte, who greeted them and told them about what to expect from the event, before walking her to her front-row seat. When the event began, everyone present in the room had their eyes on the stage, where the live stream from the event in Johannesburg went live.
It was wonderful seeing the alumni react to seeing old friends again; everyone smiled and pointed out when they recognized those they had worked with, a long time ago, or more recently for some. Field Band Foundation put on a marvelous show, with great speeches and even better music. After their live stream ended, it was only a matter of minutes before the NMF and PULSE stream in Norway began. It was not hard to tell the excitement in the room rising as everyone prepared to go give their speeches or put on a stage show. The ambassador herself even came on stage and gave a great speech about her excitement for the PULSE program. She gave thanks to everyone for a wonderful evening and congratulated and applaud the long history of the partnership between NMF and FBF, 20 years, it is no small thing.
As the event drew to a close, it was time for the big reveal, The Impact Exhibition. This is a collaborative work from NMF and FBF, created by Boiler Room, and is a digital museum of sorts. In it, you can find the history and impact of the BCB/PULSE program, with text plaques, videos, pictures, and musical arrangements. It is the collective history from the start of the program and up until the present, starting all the way back in 2001. You can find pictures of all the alumni and you can explore the different rooms it offers. In total, it has currently 113 items you can interact with, it is a repository of knowledge and memories. You can find information about the participants, about Gira, you can read academic papers linked to music and the exchange program or you can relax and go to the listening booth, where musical arrangements from both countries are present.
Before you start*
It can take some time to load, several minutes possibly, have patience and it will load.
It does not work on phones
Use WASD to move around, just like in a game. W-forward, A-left, D-right, S-backwards
Press space to mute the music, press it again to start it over again.
Use the mouse to look around and the left mouse button to interact with the items you want to.
Follow this link to enter the Impact exhibition and explore it on your own.
In South Africa, the celebrations began on Friday the 26th with BCB and PULSE alumni preparing for the main event. They had a practice session whereby they played three South African traditional songs(Ubuhle bendoda, ziyawa and Stamp) and Ukhamba, which is an original composition written by Ndabo Zulu(BCB and PULSE alumni) and Magnus Murphy Joelson from Norway. Later that evening the alumni gathered for dinner and shared wonderful memories from the exchange program and Field Band Foundation.
On Saturday the main event started with the preparation for the digital live streaming. Soundcheck, visuals, and music were practiced. When the time arrived, streaming began in South Africa. The program was filled with speeches and musical items from the alumni and distinguished guests. The event opened with a speech from Nicky du Plessis(FBF CEO), welcoming everyone who has attended this auspicious and historical event. The main song of the day(Ukhamba) was presented and conducted by Ndabo Zulu. Before rendering the piece Ndabo gave a speech about his experience being in the BCB and PULSE exchange program and talked about how this program has helped to shape his life.
Here is a YouTube link to the alumni video practicing for the event.
After Ukhamba was played, Thuli Mpse ( FBF chairperson) did a speech, thanking the support that is given to this exchange program and wishing NMF and FBF on this partnership. Nicky, Eva, and Thuli popped the balloons which were filled with confetti in celebrating this remarkable event. The master of ceremony thanked everyone in Norway for watching the streaming and a few moments later audients from South Africa were enjoying the festivities broadcasted live from Oslo, Norway.
After the streaming took place, FBF continued the festivities with the tribal council. The FBF project leaders from all regions did presentations about their regions and lit the touches that symbolized hope and prosperity in their respected communities. Project leaders read messages from their different stakeholders and staff members. A lovely performance was rendered by the FBF staff entertaining the guests who attended the event. It was followed by an award ceremony whereby individuals and groups who did well during this year were awarded different prizes and acknowledgments.
Authors: Nicholas Bahrawy and Jacob Mhlapeng
Pictures: Nomkhosi Mnisi, Nicholas Bahrawy and Merethe Flaate
The theme for September was Curiosity. The word itself speaks of peaked interest and of seeking out something new and unknown. Which is exactly what the PULSE South team was in the process of facilitating. Throughout most of September, workshops were held, with a focus on the Tutor Programme, video workshop with B# (sharp), and Music & Movement which has incorporated dance accreditation facilitated by a dance company called Moving Into Dance. There was also facilitation for RPL – Recognition of Prior Learning which is an accreditation for facilitation. This facilitation was directed to senior tutors and band coordinators.
Workshops were held at the Container House which is situated near the banks of one of the biggest rivers in South Africa called the Vall river. The first workshop held was a Tutor Programme which was closely followed by a Music and Movement workshop. The Tutor Programme started on 31 of August 2021 and lasted for six days which including two days of videography. The Main content covered at the Tutor Programme was Music theory, Events planning, Communication session, Conducting, and Instrumental skills. There was also a full band session whereby all the participants came together and practiced music in preparation for the concert at the end of the workshop. During the workshop, a motivation station was erected to write motivational quotes and morally boost each other’s confidence. A wellness group was also formed so that it will assist and remind the participants about the COVID-19 regulations. This group played a vital role as it is the one responsible for making sure that everyone is sanitizing every 20 minutes and the COVID-19 registers are properly every day.
Soon the Tutor Programme, Music and Movement workshop commenced with a two-day workshop of videography. It was followed by PULSE and Education content which comprised of Conducting, Music theory, Music arrangement, Tutor in a Training session, RPL and Moving Into Dance accreditation, and full band sessions. The workshop started on 06.09.2021 and lasted for eight days. Major highlights of this workshop were the fact that there were external facilitators from different sectors of the entertainment industry.
Moving Into Dance brought two world-class dance facilitators by the name of Tebogo Letele and Oscar Buthelezi. Both of these facilitators possess international dance experience and awards under their belts. They worked tirelessly with the Field Band Foundation dance tutors. At the end of the workshop, these dancers were awarded certificates of accreditation for Moving Into Dance which is certified by SETA-Sector Education and Training Authority.
In conjunction with MID, RPL was running on the side. All the band coordinators and seniors who were at the workshop participated in these sessions. These sessions lasted for 2 days with a follow-up work whereby the participants were required to submit assignments after the workshop. During these sessions, participants were taught different facilitation skills and to combine a portfolio of evidence to prove that they possess facilitation skills and indeed they have facilitated.
As an external facilitator, we also had Godfrey Molele who is an ex-Field Band member and a Project Officer. Godfrey was a great help in both Tutor Programme and Music and Movement workshop. He was facilitating the Pit section which is Marimba, Steel drums, and percussions. He was also instrumental in documenting the workshop activities by taking pictures and videos during the sessions.
The PULSE South Participants are currently assisting the senior tutors and Band coordinators with their RPL work. They will be going out to different projects around the country to check up if the RPL work is in order and it is ready to be submitted to relevant authorities. During the band visit, the team will also be facilitating Focus Group Discussions with the project teams they are visiting and will be doing a general band observation followed by evaluations. In November, the last Tutor Program for the year will be hosted by the PULSE team. Participants will be writing ABRSM Grade 1 exams and a panel exam as well. We are confident that these tutors will do us proud by passing their exams with flying colors and we wish them all the best.
In Norway, FeriePULSE has been held in several cities already. The events started in July for Bergen and in early August for Skien and Ålesund. Participants attended every day from 09:00 to 15:30. During this time, they practiced playing instruments (some for the first time!), dance, and twirling. In the breaks, they were allowed to go play outside or sit down and relax, making new friends and acquaintances as the days progressed. Solvor, Sofia, and Nicholas from the PULSE North team participated as instructors and assistants during the FeriePULSE in Bergen, while Sofia also joined the FeriePULSE team in Ålesund. Solvor and Sofia worked directly with the children, teaching them music and keeping them entertained during the breaks and during rehearsals. Nicholas taught the instructors and praktikants basic first, aid and he took on the job of documenting the choreography and music that the children were taught.
FeriePULSE has an overarching goal of being a fun and engaging holiday activity where children can learn the joys of musicking. It is also a gateway for the participants to get a feel of what being a part of a band is all about. Learning about inclusion and tolerance is a good way of giving the children resilience against prejudice and ignorance. FeriePULSE is an event for everyone, no matter their background or physical limitations. Teaching the children that everyone can contribute in their own way is a goal that the PULSE team takes pride in.
The praktikants have, throughout the events, worked closely with the kids and the instructors to get everything together for the closing concert that was held on the last day of FeriePULSE in the respective cities. Giving them the experience will help them have confidence in their own musicking skills, something they can bring with them to their own bands. The praktikants completed two evenings of online coaching before meeting in person a few days before FeriePULSE started. In the online course, they were taught about inclusion, the importance of being a good role model, conflict solving, and what is expected of them during FeriePULSE. During the concert on the final day, the role of addressing the audience was given to two praktikants. They did a great job of introducing what musicking is and explaining what FeriePULSE means to us who work with it and why we strive to keep it going year after year.
Confidence and musicking need a layered approach, as there are so many different aspects to take into consideration. It’s not as simple as asking, “did your confidence grow after being a part of FeriePULSE?”. Therefore, it is important that the teaching be nuanced in the way that children are taught. Everyone learns differently, and some catch on faster than others; the praktikants did a great job of patiently explaining and teaching the children in a way that they could understand. They had several different sessions a day, with different teachers, though each group of participants had a pair of praktikants following them all week. It was also not mandatory to participate in the sessions, if a child decided to take a break or wanted to play instead of rehearsing, they were allowed to do so. Learning and teaching should not feel forced and mandatory, which is why the children were, within limitations, given free rein to have fun and be active during most of the sessions
Authors: Nicholas Bahrawy and Jacob Mhlapeng
Pictures: Jacob Mhlapeng, Godfery Molele and Nicholas Bahrawy
As some might have caught on to already, each month the blog is written with a certain theme in mind. The themes are a part of our anniversary celebrations, highlighting topics that have been a part of the programme ever since it started.
The theme for June is Confidence. Confidence can be very subjective and individual, one can have the confidence to speak up in class, or the confidence to accept yourself for who you are. The PULSE team works diligently on helping the bands we interact with so that confidence is increased across the board. The tutors and dancers instructors need to be confident in their skills, they must be confident in their teaching and most importantly, confident in themselves and the work they do. They need this in order to pass that confidence over to those the band members they interact with
This is why PULSE strives to interact with the bands, why we hold workshops and events. Besides the obvious academic part, it is also to help everyone see their worth in the organisation. Confidence is not easily achieved, it demands hard work and effort, something PULSE is more than happy to assist with.
The past few weeks most of the PULSE team has been busy with arranging the Virtual Educational Band visits (VEBV), and so far, only one band remains. Feedback has currently been very good and all who has participated has come out more knowledgeable on the other end. Upskilling staff like this is a great way to increase the overall quality of the excellent work that’s being done in the different field bands, and it is also a great way to increase confidence. Upskilling is one such important tool that we can use in order to help staff feel more confident in themselves and the work they do. It gives them the possibility to develop and sharpen their own skills, so that they can feel even more comfortable with their role as instructors.
SommerPULSE is being arranged this summer, with the Praktikants (interns) starting their digital training as early as the 16th this month. This year, SommerPULSE will be held in Bergen, Ålesund and Skien.
For those that are unfamiliar with it, SommerPULSE is an event that goes on for a few days, where young children, with or without field band experience, can come together to play music, sing and dance and to rehearse for a show that they will hold at the end of the event. The praktikants are teenagers and young adults that are helping with the arranging, and logistics of keeping the children active and engaged during the event. For them, this event just as much about gaining experience in working with such events, as it is a possibility for them to engage with likeminded individuals of all ages. They will have two digital seminars, spanning two hours each, were they will be introduced to different topics, such as how to be a role model, inclusion, pedagogical tool and much more. This year we are lucky to have Christian D. Larsen to be the one who hosts the digital training events. SommerPULSE will be held in person at a rented venue for the duration of the event. All of the praktikants will also meet up, in person, one day ahead of the planned SommerPULSE they are attending to go over the schedule and program. It is an exciting event that PULSE has helped arrange several times already and we hope that this year, despite the pandemic, will also be a great success.
FBF Leadership cluster workshop.
PULSE and Field Band Education (FBE) has been involved in FBF leadership cluster workshops. The first cluster workshop was held on 7 to 8 June in Kimberly, Northern Cape, and the second workshop was from 9 to 10 June at 1st Bryanston Scouts Hall in Johannesburg. The purpose of these workshops was to check the progress of the projects on different tasks and to go through new upcoming plans and events of the year.
PULSE and FBE was allocated a slot during these two workshops. The first workshop PULSE and FBE attended digitally, and the second workshop was physical. PULSE and FBE notified the leaders of the projects about the upcoming workshops which are going to be held in July at the Container House in the Free State. The PULSE team also had a session with the Project Officers regarding the One Drive challenges. In this session the Project officer mainly asked questions which are going to be answered later.
The ABRSM music theory examinations will be written by the tutors and Tutors in Training. With this examination we want to bridge the music theory knowledge and boost the confidence amongst the staff members and make sure that everyone is on the same level. The team did a VEBV follow-up session by going through what we call THE CHALLENGE. This is a task that projects are going to do throughout the year, and we are going to follow and guide the leaders as they are doing it. The FBF staff members are required to produce an event which will take place at the end of the year. Every month the project leaders are supposed to send a progress report to PULSE and FBE for evaluation and guidance.
Overall, the cluster workshops were a success and productive, they have increased the level of confidence in what we are doing. We are looking forward to the upcoming workshops and excited to meet tutors and Band Coordinators in the upcoming workshops.
Pictures: Thembeka Joe, Paul Mongwe and Thabo Mapholo
04.06.2021 marked a very special day for PULSE, on this day, 20 years ago, the first participant contracts for the partnership were signed. A special day indeed, as it was the foundation that the next 20 years were built upon. This is the 20th birthday of the partnership and we will celebrate this joyous event throughout the year as we continue with the 20th anniversary celebrations.
For 20 years, the partnership has helped broadening horizons, led to incredible journeys and affected more lives than we can count. Looking back at the stories that has been made, we forge on into the future together in partnership, because we are strongest together.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Here is to 20 more years of making a difference.
As the month of May is nearing its end it`s nice to look back and reflect on what a joyous time it has been with celebrations and festivities in both South Africa and Norway. On 17 May, Norway celebrated its Constitution Day, which was marked by nationwide activities. Since this is a special year for us all, with the ongoing pandemic and the 20th anniversary of the partnership between FBF and NMF, an extraordinary performance was put together.
The PULSE team and FBF arranged a fantastic greeting and Constitution Day wishes for their friends in Norway. The show was live streamed in Norway on NMF’s Facebook page, if you missed it, you can see the stream on the PULSE YouTube channel right now.
May is a wonderful month filled with friendship and joy, yet, it is important to remember that not everyone has the possibility to join in on these celebrations. For some, these days can be a struggle, and for that reason we should all reflect on why we are blessed. While also thinking on how to include and help those that might not be as fortunate. Friendship is just as much about inclusion as it is being together. Do not forget that some might sit in silence, waiting for an opportunity to be included, we should all hold this in mind as the celebrations continue into the month of June. Friendship is about inclusion and PULSE encourages everyone to be inclusive.
The PULSE team is happy to announce that the blog will from now also include a story from one of our distinguished Alumni once a month. This part of the blog will be a video or a personal picture with a special story. This is a recognition and celebration of our friends whom have participated in the PULSE program or the Bands Crossing Borders (BCB) exchange in previous years. We are happy to share their stories with our readers and hope that they can be an inspiration while also providing some insights into what the exchange has meant to the participants.
Our first story is from Marit Bakken, a BCB participant all the way back in 2006. In her video, she talks about what BCB and the exchange did for her, and how she used her experience to further her career. Thank you, Marit, for the story of your success!
Virtual Education Band Visit.
May is a month of celebrating friendship for PULSE and it has also been a month filled with educational activities for FBF field staff. PULSE and FBF Education (FBE) are currently hosting Virtual Education Band Visits with various field bands. Educational Band Visits (VEBV) is a process where FBE and PULSE renders educational activities virtually to field staff members. These sessions are held online for four hours with three different bands at a time. The purpose of the VEBV is to enhance the knowledge and teaching skills of the field staff on music theory, lifeskills and how to manage the projects.
First three bands that received the pleasure of being visited virtually was Plett Pioneers Field Band (Plettenburg bay), Springs Field Band (Johannesburg) and Alexandra Field Band (Johannesburg). Over a period of three days, field staff will attended one session a day with the PULSE participants and education facilitators. On the fourth day, an evaluation will be held, in order to provide feedback and thoughts on how the VEBV went and could be improved. In the evaluation meeting, all field staff members from the different field bands gather together in a virtual meeting.
Topics that were held in the different sessions were music theory, team dynamics and self-care. The music theory sessions were facilitated by Khayalethu Benela and Peter Maluleke. The team dynamics session was facilitated by Jacob Mhlapeng and Nomkhosi Mnisi. Lastly, Solvor Vermeer and Franqo Ntshole held the self-care sessions.
The VEBV was greatly received by the field staff and they requested more of these sessions to be held frequently. More VEBVs are scheduled for the other bands with the same topics to be covered in the next coming weeks.
The month of May is finally here. A month spent in celebration both in South Africa and Norway, where friends and family gather to join in on the merrymaking. Get your fine clothing out from the closet and get ready for a month of celebrations.
For Africa Month and Africa Day the PULSE team have prepared several different events, in collaboration with FBF and NMF. The friendship between our two host organisations is as strong as ever, despite the exchange being digital this year. On the 17th of May, the Norwegian Constitution Day, the South members of PULSE will be joining in on NMF’s celebratory livestream with a musical piece, a wonderful display of friendship and collaboration. Follow the livestream here : https://fb.me/e/p3Vf9i9wY It will go live from 07am to 13.pm, and our South Participants will play live at ca 09.45am.
In addition to this, PULSE have been working hard writing and arranging music for the Field band. This music will be distributed to the bands on the field, with the aim of being performed on Africa Day. All the field bands will be celebrating this day with friends and family throughout their respective regions. Regalia and traditional attires will be the order of the day with traditional music from different cultures.
In Norway, May is also a month packed with events, such as Ascension Day, Constitution Day, Pentecost and Confirmations. Bunads are being cleaned and ironed, ready to be used on the 17th of May, despite large parts of the normal celebrations beings cancelled due to restrictions. That will however not stop most from dressing up nicely and partake in the celebrations from home. Bunad is the national costume of Norway, the cut and colors of the Bunad represents the region you are from.
With so many different celebratory days lined up, there is no shortage of opportunities to go out and have some fun, in a safe manner of course. The PULSE team is also making sure that there are events planned throughout the month, and we hope all of our friends out there will join us.
This week the PULSE team is going through with Virtual Educational Band visits, or VEBV, as it is called in the office. Since travel is restricted and the North participants are stuck in Norway, organising the band visits virtually allows them to join in, despite the great distance between our two respective countries. It is exciting that these visits are happening, as it will give members of the PULSE team the chance to meet old acquaintances and rekindle the friendship that was built in previous years. It will also give the newest members of the PULSE team, Sofia and Nicholas, a great chance to take part in meeting with the different bands and introduce themselves. Who knows, perhaps new friendships will arise just as old ones are renewed.
During VEBV, the PULSE team will be virtually visiting three bands a day where they will be teaching three different topics. Topics to be taught are music theory, lifeskills, self-care, team dynamics (how to work as a team), “The Challenge of the year” and evaluation. The purpose of these workshops are to upskill the staff members with the correct knowledge of running the bands and making sure that the team dynamics are understood. This is why upskilling is so important, making sure that the bands are running smoothly, while also being a safe haven for everyone is what FBF and PULSE strives for. The bands are not only a place of learning, but also a place to developing oneself in different ways, yet most importantly; it is a place where friendships take root and grows.
As most have experienced first-hand, the pandemic is forcing us to find new ways of working together. The change from physical contact, whether it be in the office, out in the field or in school, into a digital space has been a challenge. It is not a medium that is suited for all, technological limitations and know-how may present unforeseen challenges that needs to be overcome.
The PULSE project is not exempt from this challenge, especially considering that the exchange is not happening physically. Because of this, new ways of working together have been explored, and I am pleased to say that the PULSE team is now thriving in their new digital office. Previously the exchange meant that one team would travel to Norway and one team to South Africa, these two teams would have very few meeting points, yet both teams worked for the same project.
Today, in the digital landscape, the PULSE team is working more closely together than ever before. Joint projects with participants from both teams, collaboration and cooperation has nothing but increased since the project went digital. This is of course not without a few bumps along the road, but the amount of growth PULSE has gone through is staggering. As of now, the North Participants and South Participants are working together on a daily basis, with meetings, phone calls and e-mails going back and forth all day long. At no time previously have the two teams collaborated and grown together as they have now.
It is not only the PULSE team that has seen growth when it comes to collaboration, our two host organisations, FBF and NMF have also been working more closely together, as evident from the Activity Library that was recently published on YouTube. Another point of cooperation is the Praktikant programme and FeriePULSE, which will take place later this year in Norway. This time the Praktikant programme will be held digitally. Something which is very good news. Instead of cancelling it, due to the pandemic and restrictions. Work has been set in motion to re-create this as a digital event, with North and South participants working closely together to make this happen. By having it held digitally, it will reach out to more participants than previously as distance, travel arrangements and the budgetary costs of hosting a physical event is no longer a hindrance. If all goes accordingly, the FeriePULSE will be held physically in June, given that the Norwegian government allows it, something that all of us are hoping they will. The amount of individual and team wide growth the PULSE team has seen is something to behold, as digital upskilling has become an everyday part of the job now. Yet, even when the team is working from opposite sides of the world, the collaboration never ceases. Examples of cross team cooperation is amongst others, but not limited to; the alumni survey, workshop contents, social media posts, 20th anniversary material, life skills, e-learning, and many more
Working in a digital space has its ups and downs for sure, and not being able to meet up in person can sometimes weigh on the team as they work together, so in order to keep the PULSE team happy and thriving in a digital landscape, there has been appointed a Digital Wellbeing Officer(DWO). This person, Solvor, is making sure that the team has all the resources they need to work together. The DWO is also in charge of creating a space where the team can meet up and informally chat amongst each other, just like a cantina or break room functions in a physical office. Having an informal meeting space, where chit chat and banter flow loosely is a great thing, and it is really helpful to help alleviate the stress from constantly having to work online. Meeting up, drinking some coffee, tea or cocoa while having a laugh with our colleagues is so invaluable time and does wonders to keep the team connected and growing closer together, despite the distance between us.