Getting Insight from IFSA Annual Interim Meeting in Finland

Text Jia Yi Chew, Picture by Hilla Laakkonen

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The organizing committees of Finland hosted this year’s IFSA interim meeting. The Finnish local committees joined forces with other local committees to provide the best experience for IFSA officials. Interim took place in Saariselkä, Finland from January 7th to the 14th. Seventeen officials attended Interim; four other organizing committees were also present in Saariselkä. Vice-President Jan Joseph Dida moderated the events.  Different sessions featured different speakers and facilitators. Sessions varied between two and four hours which included both internal and external matters such as statutes, strategy, structure, communication, international processes and financial. Officials attended each session, then came together with their perspectives, inputs and visions for the organisation.

“Tervetuloa lappiin! (Welcome to Lapland!)” Daria Solonen, chairperson of the organizing  IFSA’S Interim committee, welcomed the participants during the opening session of the Interim. She thanked everyone for the opportunity to host. She also recognized the three organizing committees (Moel, JMYO, and MYO) that put in the effort to organize the interim. As I was listening to the opening speech, I was struck by the question: “What is Interim?” I began to think about the meaning of the word itself rather than meaning of the event. Salina Abraham (IFSA world president) reminded the audience that the Interim is the time for officials to come together, to reflect and to discuss the functioning of IFSA (strengths, weaknesses, future, etc.). Interim is a time for officials to start fresh and begin again; it is a time to let go of old expectations. Vice-president Jan Joseph asked all officials to state the difficulties they encountered in the past year and the matters that they would like to address during the Interim meeting.

The sessions were divided into internal and external matters. The first two days of  meetings focused on internal matters. Officials presented, statutes, strategy, and structure. Dolores Pavlovic (statutes council) simplified statutes affiliated with German laws, and after breaking into groups, we decided which laws to keep and which to amend. After hours of debating and voting during the strategy sessions, we finally agreed upon the vision for IFSA: ‘A world that appreciates forest’. On the fourth day, we left for an excursion to refresh our minds and bodies. We visited a tire- testing field, rode on a reindeer sled, and ate lunch at a restaurant owned by the Suomi. The Suomi spoke of their culture and stories while we enjoyed the most delicious reindeer meat stew! After a few hours of outdoor activities, we returned to our official duties. The organizing committees from Mexico called in to present their plan for IFSS 2018.

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The rest of the external matters that also have it own session are communication strategy, International Processes Commission (IPC) and regionalization matters, IFSA website management, social media protocols, promotion and design and IFSA finances and budget. From the presentation of Head of Social Media Jillian, she concluded that there are lots of sharing and posting activities on IFSA social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from sharing news from partnerships and events. As the faces and platforms that represent IFSA, we are proud for its fastest growing because we are now reaching 21000 and 7280 followers on group page and fan page! The officials also actively engaged in the meeting by contributing their ideas during finalizing the communication strategy for IFSA. The strategy will be implemented this coming March through both internally and externally for smoother communication and enforce engagement of youth.

Time flies with a nonstop schedule! We worked together from nine to five everyday to discuss the state of IFSA. We worked hard to make sure the organization is on the right track. The interim meeting allowed officials to better understand the internal and external functioning of the organization. The meeting helped build capacity and skills for newer members, including myself! Finally, the organizing committee helped us all feel wonderfully comfortable and welcome in a country away from home. I would like to especially thank the organizing committees (Darja, Hilla, Saara, arttu, Lauri) and donors for their support. Kiitos (thank you)!

List of sponsors: Metsähallitus, Suomen Metsäsäätiö, Metsämiestensäätiö, Jouko Tuovolan säätiö, Teollisuuden metsänhoitajat, Metsäkoulutus ry

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About the author :

Jia Yi Chew is a recent graduate from Chiayi University (China-Taipei) and responsible for the content of the contribution. Jia Yi can be reached by email jiayi.chew.ifsa (a) gmail.com.

Live opening messages: https://www.facebook.com/IFSAdotnet/videos568135803275985/

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