“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
The learning process begins at birth. We learn through examples from our surroundings, from personal experience, by imitating, repeating, experimenting, researching and realizing. We learn by reading, writing, discussing and experiencing. We learn every day, we learn constantly, and I have my professional experience to support it. The desire and need for new knowledge and experience doesn’t cease, even when I resist it.
At the beginning of my studies in the field of social work and social politics I believed everything I was about to learn during the lectures, exercises and the practice was going to make me a social worker. As years went by I realized it would take more than lectures, exercises and the practice. So, in search for knowledge and experience I began visiting trainings and seminars, some related to my field of study, others from quite different fields. When I embarked on this process I understood the meaning of learning through experience which at the time I acquired through volunteering. By discovering the world of non-formal education I realized how important it is in the shaping of a professional’s character. With every training I became more and more aware about the world around me.
The last training I attended was related to democracy in local self-government units seen through the prism of gender perspectives. The training involved specific examples of the local self-government units in dealing with the challenges of surpassing gender inequality, and it took place in several cities in Sweden. In addition, each of the participants shared examples from the countries they represented, the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe. During the training I was most impressed with the examples from other countries not related or similar in any cultural sense to the country I live in. In that moment it all seemed so different to me. Just a few days after the training had ended I began to understand the examples by analyzing the examples from my own country, Macedonia. Gender inequality, gender stereotypes and prejudices are everywhere. The training taught me how to perceive and recognize these in the context I live in, even those that aren’t directly and clearly related to social work, but are still important for social work.