IHEYO: Sven, you are working since June this year as volunteer for the Executive committee (EC) of IHEYO, but have been present in the last year s in the IHEYO network through your Norwegian organisation. Please tell us a bit about your background way of becoming a member in HEF. When did you realize what humanism is about and that you wanna work or engage yourself in that direction?
Sven: I literarily stumbled upon an ad in the local newspaper advertising a regional humanist youth seminar near Gjøvik, were I was living at that time. This was in 2005, and at that time, I was just a passive member of the Norwegian Humanist Association (HEF).
The seminar was so fun, and all the active humanists I met really energized me. I learned a lot about humanism through role play and “coffee table discussions” where we formed groups and everybody contributed ideas that were written on huge posters.
IHEYO: How do you see the development of IHEYOs work over the years you are involved in it?
Sven: I learned about IHEYO in Oslo at the 50th Anniversary of HEF in 2006. I took part in a youth seminar that very same weekend and Gea Meijers gave a brief presentation of IHEYO. I was pleased to see that there was also an international youth organization run by young humanists. Later that year, I got the opportunity to go to our international youth conference in Vijayawada, India, where I was really inspired by the speakers and the activities.
What I like most about IHEYO is our ability to embrace the differences among our member organizations, and also I think the diversity of our EC board helps us see situations from different angles and perspectives, which is always valuable.
I’m really excited about our plans for upcoming years that we have discussed internally in the EC. All the planned projects and activities require a lot of communication, and I see it’s essential that we are able to staff a communication officer like we’ve had for the last years.
IHEYO: Now you are a board member of IHEYO, but I know you also run a company in Norway. Tell us about that! What skills from your professional life can you transfer to your volunteer work in IHEYO?
Sven: The company delivers web solutions, and I focus a lot on innovation. I’m currently in the process of moving my office to Singapore, for easier access to skilled developers. I hope to finish both this moving process and deliver the thesis for my current master’s degree by June 2009.
Running a company requires self-motivation, and you need to deliver appropriate and targeted messages to everybody you deal with. Sometimes, saying less is more effective than spending 10 pages to include every little detail in an application or proposal. Of course planning, and techniques for reflecting over what works and what can be improved are skills I hope to transfer to IHEYO.
IHEYO: Becoming a member of the EC: Was this a personal mission for you or which wish stands behind your active involvement in IHEYO? How do you see your role in the future for IHEYO? What is your wish for IHEYOs future?
Sven: At this time, I’ve been involved for just a few months, and realize there is still much I have to learn about IHEYO. As people around the world gets more connected, it becomes easier to share ideas and learn from people who share the same passion. Maybe a Humanist Sofa, where you can stay a few days with a humanist in a different country is a good way to approach this? At the same time, those who take part will get to experience the culture and everyday life in a different country. There are many popular hospitality networks, so why not create one around Humanist ideas. It could operate over the Internet and cost nothing to use. We should raise money to develop and maintain something like this.
My biggest hope for IHEYO’s future is that we get the resources we need to carry out our many project ideas. It’s good if we’re able to first focus on what we have planned, make sure the projects deliver results and that the learnings can be captured and transferred when we plan the next round of activities.
With the current globalization and focus of ethical life qualities for youth everywhere, I think an organization such as IHEYO has an important position.
Sven: You’re welcome, Silvana. It was a pleasure to share my story with you.