Frank and his Swedish adventure part two: three months in
Consultant anaesthetist and sustainability champion Frank Swinton is taking a sabbatical from Airedale to study for a Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, in Sweden. Frank will share his experiences via this blog over the coming months…enjoy!
Three months in and it feels like a lifetime! It really feels like winter here now. The days are short and dark and the wind is baltic (pun intended!). We’ve had a couple of frosty mornings but no snow yet. I’ve got some winter tyres for the car and will be fitting them shortly. We’ve still been walking down to the beach every few days but we’ve swapped our shorts and flip-flops for hats and mittens.
The kids are still legendary. It’s a long story but we moved them out of the first school after three weeks and put them into another school where they didn’t know anybody, didn’t know the routine and didn’t know the language. This time though it was even harder again because they were now joining part way through the term! They have absolutely risen to the challenge though by trying their hardest, making new friends and trying to see the bright spots, even on a tough day. It’s Father’s Day here today and my son who’s nine wrote me a card totally in Swedish. I had to ask him to translate it for me!
Alex’s job hunt hasn’t been very fruitful. She’s doing a little bit of private tuition but although everyone tells her they need teachers, the schools don’t seem to be keen. It’s been really frustrating for her but she’s plugging on regardless and is starting to find some other stuff to do, even if it’s not teaching English which is what she’s good at and qualified for.
My course is really great. It’s exactly what I wanted in that there’s a lot of sustainability (which isn’t very happy subject matter) but also a lot of leadership theory, skills and case studies (which is totally inspirational and gives me hope). I’m enjoying the leadership element more that I thought I would and I’ve said, “I wish I had been taught that 20 years ago” about a million times! It’s all transferable skills that will be useful no-matter where I am or what I’m trying to do and I’m really relishing the diverse nature of the class when it comes to things that have worked or not. At the last count we are 44 people from 27 countries so we’re rarely short of something to talk about in terms of favourite music, food or movies.
So far, the learning has been covering theories, working in groups and small assignments but we shifted gears a bit two weeks ago and we’re now into working in a group of five for a couple of months with one organisation to see how we can help them to become more sustainable. Not just environmentally but also socially and economically. I’m working with one guy from the Netherlands and one from China along with a lady from Costa Rica and a lady from South Africa. Our organisation is a local firm which makes paraffin lamps in a traditional style. It employs local artisans and is keen to contribute to the local economy and preserve the traditional style of lamps while at the same time, they understand that there are cleaner ways of lighting a room than burning paraffin – there’s lots of good work to do!
I think this work will be useful for me when I get back to Airedale because although there aren’t many paraffin lamps in the hospital, I will have some experience of looking at a whole organisation and seeing where it’s possible to make changes that have the biggest impact. I’ll have some tools up my sleeve to help see the wood from the trees and I’ll also have more experience of talking to people about change – why some people embrace it, why some find it difficult, why some see it as a threat etc.
The next big thing on the horizon is thesis topics. We don’t start writing until the new year but we have to submit suggested topics this week so there’s been a lot of thought about what we might want to work on for four months in a group of three. I’m not sure yet but I suspect I’ll continue my current plan of having a year totally off health care and learning about other stuff.