Work Travel: The longest days

One of the flaws in what many of us do is this: When we spend our days disseminating our work and training people to use our materials, we are doing one aspect of our job that is very important, but the other parts of our jobs still need to be done. The emails keep coming. The staff still need to meet with us (online). The paperwork still has to be done. The audio still has to get recorded. (image: Hourglass by borabora on Flickr)

There is a group of us here in Turku, who are working to provide teacher professional development to a group of educators from all around Europe. From 9am to 6pm, we are working with the teachers, providing concepts and content (and coffee). We are staying in an adult travelers hostel, and our evening are being spent cooking a shared dinner, and then working into the twilight at our computers. While normally, working into the twilight would be a nice short day, here in Turku, Finland, it doesn’t currently get any darker than twilight. The reality is we regularly see the clock click past midnight before we can sign off and put ourselves and our computers into sleep mode, only to arise again at 7am, to check our email and eat a bit prior to heading back out the door. We are doing good works, but the days are long, and I think all of us facilitators are in desperate need of just a bit (or, to be honest, a lot) of sleep.

Turku feels a bit like a ghost town. We are walking between venues, and the buildings at both the university and the observatory have been dark and silent. July is the month when most Fins go on their yearly vacation. Many businesses are shut down, and the cities are hollowed out as people go to their summer cottages, scattered all about the country. As an American, I find this concept of mass vacation surreal. I have tried to go on vacation twice in the past to years, each time in December around the holidays, and each time I had a work emergency requiring me to login and work for at least a couple days. When I travel, I have to leave lists of which of my staff can be contacted in my place. The idea that all of us could all actually go offline and exist in the moment, and enjoy a vacation… this seems like a strangely quaint concept from an easier time that will never again exist in America. I hope I will be proven wrong.

These are the longest days – days spent working surrounded by summer sun and vacationing Fins. We are doing good works… but I would love to sleep on a beach not fearing for how my inbox might punish me later.

 

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