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How to build community (virtual) before our programs? | [Rebeca G.]  

  

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I manage a group of very young international staff (20 to 26 years old students from Spain, England, New Zealand, Poland and South Africa, mainly) who come to spend the best summer of their lives as they work at supervising campers and teaching them how to cook (we have a team of chefs and a team of counselors, media production specialists and Entertainment specialists besides the nurses, head counselors and camp directors).

I am in charge of the operations at Camp XXXX US. My main challenge is how to built community with them before they come to camp as they live in different countries. What can I do to make them feel as part of a team before they come to camp. Any suggestions of new ways of communication and ways to get them involved?

We usually use WhatsApp to communicate with them and we do some on line training courses on Google Classroom. By the way I am a IESE MBA and I have started to follow you on YouTube. I really like it and I often share some videos with my daughter who is studying business at ESADE in Barcelona.

Congratulations! I am glad to see that IESE still has top teachers.

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This is hard.  Online is a big thing, and at IESE, at Vistage, in Enterpreneurs Organsation there is work being done to foster online community building.

I don't think we have figured it out.

I struggle to build connections before our courses at IESE, in organising events and courses for Entrepreneurs Organisation, and in Vistage. 

The shared experience of a course together, or in your case living and cooking together is so intense compared to "networking online". 

I am thinking a lot this year about how to use online tools to improve the quality of the courses that I teach.  Quality as in improved learner outcomes...  but also quality in terms of long term, deep relationships between the participants.

My course whatsapp groups are like ghost towns prior to a program, and then they are highly active over the first months post-program.  I have 25+ post course whatsapp groups and they are wonderful communities in the 2 months post course... then the activity drops down to birthday messages and more isolated messages celebrating successes related to the material we have studied together.

Here on my blog, this forum is a small attempt to foster community and allow for questions and answers to come in before, during and after courses.  As you can see... there's not many participants beyond myself sharing questions I receive and the answers I have.  (although the answers do get hundreds of views...)

This is not much of an answer, other than that there are few short cuts to build authentic, deep, meaningful connections between people... and therefore we need to accept that only emotional shared experience really moved people to a strong, active, supportive shared community.

 

@cuchullainn

Thank you for your answer!

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