The NSU is like a little microcosm and a little model of society functioning on the principles of good and free will and desire to participate and contribute on a voluntary basis. Or, as one of our Circle participants formulated it, the NSU is a model of cooperative – an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common goals, needs and aspirations.
I have had experience in various positions in the NSU. I started as a participant in Circle 2 winter session, which took place in Riga. I helped the coordinators to book a local restaurant for the Circle’s dinner and it turned out a nice evening of socializing and networking. When it was decided that the NSU summer session would take place in Latvia in the upcoming year, I was approached with the proposal to be the Head of Arrkom, so I was reunited with the NSU family again. After the summer session I took over the responsibility of a Circle’s coordinator from the previous coordinators of Circle 2, and thus I could experience a different aspect of the organizational work again.
This experience has provided me with different insights within the NSU. For example, in this summer session I have an opportunity to explore the political culture of the NSU, since I am a delegate at the General Assembly of the NSU. It is a useful exercise of agency and citizenship in an organizational model, which I otherwise would probably never experience, unless I become a member of parliament.
To be a circle coordinator, first of all, one must have good people skills. Not only the overall NSU policy is to support the interdisciplinary approach in research and networking, it is also the cross-cultural aspect that the coordinators must deal with when coordinating Circle’s work. So, above all, coordinators should have empathy and communication skills to support the existing and prospective participants in all kinds of matters, both virtually and in person.
What I really enjoy in the process of conducting and organizing a Circle’s work is the great platform for communication and exchange of ideas that emerges during the summer and winter sessions. All the sessions of our circle have been very inspirational and thought-provoking in this sense. Since I am a researcher myself, I have very often experienced isolation and lack of human contact. So I really appreciate the collective and shared experience, as well as the sense of community that these symposia offer us. However, a circle coordinator should also know how to find the balance between being the good cop and the bad cop or, in other words, the psychological tactic when heated debates need to be regulated in group discussions. I would say it is some kind of helicopter view, when a coordinator has the ability to zoom out of the smaller details and offer an overall conclusion to wrap up the problem and without restricting or offending the group to move on.
In general, the experience of a coordinator is very valuable. It has been a learning curve for me in all kinds of disciplines: rational and emotional intelligence, communication, strategic and critical thinking, organizational work and even finance management.
Laine Kristberga in response to Bill Thompson’s suggestion/ Study Circle 2