Lithuanian students developing a business idea to help the elderly
Written by Jerrell (Tom) Asbill
I had the privilege of helping host a group from Utena, Lithuania at TAMK from May 20th to May 24th. The group had a business idea to help elderly in the countryside who had issues coming into the city for appointments, shopping and various other needs. The initial goal was to have them refine their business idea through strategic lesson-based workshops and company visits.
A few things were extremely evident the first day. The group was teacher led and the students seemed a bit hesitant to fully express their ideas. In addition, the group was not fully united on how to best move their idea forward. Lastly, while the idea was good it lacked a fluent plan.
During the course of the week, the dynamics of the group changed. It became more student led, more open, and more laughter was apparent during their work sessions. The flow of ideas was also much more uninhibited. The initial business plan was modified and improved several times as well.
The company visits seemed to inspire a great deal of the aforementioned changes. Each company brought a unique perspective to the group. The first company showed them a model to achieve their goals of transporting the elderly via minibuses. The group was advised to work with the local government and try to build a partnership with them.
The second company talked with them about staging events for the elderly and how to get sponsors for it. It was an angle not previously considered, but one that the group thought had a lot of potential. It also led to discussions about potential partners.
The final company showed the group how something that starts as a small idea can grow into a business with the proper planning and resources. All three companies provided something that the group needed to move forward with their business plan.
The day after the company visits, it was obvious that a new focus had united the group. They were working as more of a unit. The teacher began to slowly take a more secondary role as well. In turn, the students started making their voices heard more loudly and clearly. While this transformation in group dynamics was occurring, the strengths of each individual person began coming to the forefront. The group transformed into a team with a unified and focused business plan. Their vision for the future was also very clear.
Finnish Sauna and City Views
The group was taken for a sauna and lake swimming at Rauhaniemi during their time at TAMK. The cold water of Näsijärvi and warmth of the sauna provided them with a new experience. They were also treated to grilled sausages as well.
After the sauna experience, I took half of the group to the Moro Skybar to enjoy the views of the city. They were interested in the large lakes, different areas of the city and especially Särkänniemi. They asked about having time to go visit the amusement park and the costs of going there for an evening.
At the conclusion of day 4, they headed to Särkänniemi. It was an evening filled with laughter, discussions and a lot amusement park rides. It was a great evening of further bonding among the team in a relaxed setting
Outcome of Week
The final day the group gave a presentation of their project that was focused, detailed and realistic. It was also delivered as a group with everyone having a speaking part. Pride was evident on all their faces as they talked about their project. When the presentation was finished, they were asked about the next steps. They did not hesitate and laid out their plan to make their plan a reality. The transformation from group to team was also achieved.
"Honestly, I didn't want to travel to Finland, because of the many complexes in my head - language skills, fear of communication and so on... But when I had to go home, I really didn't want to... TAMK and people of TAMK (Tom, Pepe, Mona) helped me to do a break from my complexes of speaking and for my fears... They helped me to create my life goals, my science and career goals... My experience at TAMK grew me up, seriously.
When I got back home, I was thinking very much about myself, and understood that I don't want to live a simple life. I wanted to go out of my comfort zone, so now I am in Germany (just for summer), where I have a job, where I am travelling, and where I am reading books about self-education.
All in all, the experience at TAMK was not only about our team work or our social business idea improvement, also it was about me - better personality, self-confidence, search of challenges, achievement of goals. Thank you so much for all of this, I believe that we will meet someday, because Tampere I really loved."
My Personal Reflection
Each group that comes to TAMK is as unique as the individuals that make them up. While the groups have experiences, so do the individuals within them. The group can only grow as much as each individual within it grows. The growth reflected by the individual above is a mirror of the growth that was experienced by the group as a whole as it transformed into a team. I fully expect this team to go forward with their project and do their best to make it a reality. I hope that for the sake of the elderly around Utena that the project is a success.