To grow through the Practical Team

– Suzanne Lepoutre

Hej hej!

I’m Suzanne, 25 years old, one of the ESC volunteers. I work in the Practical Team of SIP with Paul (another ESC volunteer) and with all the super members of the team! Our boss, Martin the Irreplaceable, our guardian angel, is just one of the most kind, beautiful and trustworthy person I have met in my life! Always here for you whatever happens. More than a boss, he is a father. When I see him, I see the adult I would like to become.

Before coming here to Sweden, I had absolutely no goal in my life. In the middle of my university year, I just stopped everything to do… Nothing! I was lost, no clue of what I wanted to do in my life, full of anxiety and stuck in my quarter life crisis. I learnt about ESC while going to a youth information centre in Paris. I saw in ESC the opportunity to do two things: live abroad for the first time in my life and try something totally new. Go out of my comfort zone even though I have a lot of anxiety issues. I saw the project to work in the Practical Team and the first thing which made me apply was the manual and practical part. I wanted to work with my hands! Then, there also was the team spirit part and the opportunity to learn about leadership. What a challenge for someone like me!

The Practical Team, a place to grow and to work with your hands and your heart!

The Practical Team works like a building and construction company which welcomes different kinds of people. Being in this team means working together, building, demolishing, recycling, driving, using tools which become your best friends (my favourite ones are maybe the circular saw and the welding machine)!

Everyday is like a surprise egg in a candy shop! You come, you don’t know precisely who will come and what will be the plan for the week… As a really stressed and routine person, it is a BOOM style for me! I am still lost but, day by day, thanks to Martin, to Paul and to the team members, I learn the Swedish style: « lagom ». (Hein? What is this thing? Hmm, for my cautious French mind, it smells like a new series of Ikea furnitures with unpronounceable names!); learn to « take it easy » and accept to face difficulties even though it is sometimes hard and even though I have the feeling that I WILL NEVER be able to do my job. I, a leader? Please, stop joking! The anxious and too sensible human being I am? Yeah, maybe there is some leader in the deep part of myself. Even though I discovered after two months here that I don’t like to lead and to create planning, maybe I can learn to like that job, because it is all that scares me the most: handling unexpected situations, taking initiatives and responsibilities while respecting other people’s needs. Each morning my brain says to me « you can’t do it » but, still, I try, everyday.

You understand now: often, I want to give up and go back to France. I say to myself «ESC and this project is not for me, I am too anxious and too sensible for that job». Then, I take a step back… I have the chance to live a wonderful experience in a sweet country (even though I have some issues sometimes with the Swedish style)! I met the other volunteers (my second family here, I love them so much!) and all the wonderful people from SIP. And there is my favourite part of the job: becoming independent and autonomous, gaining self-confidence by driving with a trailer, learning about manual work, using tools, using your brain and your hands, be part of different projects about construction, demolition, recycling and sharing the knowledge with all the guys of the team! We succeed through the team.

Actually, I understand step by step that ESC is for everyone, even people who doubt themselves everyday and who are absolutely lost in their lives. ESC is first a human experience and an opportunity to open your mind to a new culture and a new way of working. Sometimes, it is REALLY hard! But you grow and you get the chance to be part of a unique project in your life!