Reflections of one participant after the two week journey: The Robota 2018 voyage through the Barents Region has come to an end. The tour bus has returned to its garage in Murmansk. Next step is collecting, writing all the stories and to compile texts and photos in a book. Texts will be in Swedish, Finnish, Russian with English translations – and photos that say more than thousand words. :
By Sampo Nevalainen, Oulu, Finland
”Let’s do something different this time”, was the idea behind Robota 2018. A voyage through Barents Region put together by Barents Press International together with Nordic Journalist Centre. As a result, we were eleven young journalists from Sweden, Finland and Russia with all of our notepads, recorders and cameras traveling by a Russian Mercedes bus for two weeks from Tromsø in Norway to Murmansk in Russia, 1700 km through Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.
For us who came from bigger cities like Malmö, Oulu and Murmansk there was one very important question to ask: What makes the people want to live here? Through the minds of many passionate and inspirational people it became clear that the care for the community is what matters. For example in Tromsø local young adults use drama and theatre to get the young immigrants to settle in. A wonderful lesson: a lack of common language doesn’t have to be an obstacle.
Robota 2018 gave our group of next generation journalists a productive platform to give voices and faces to these distant northern places. The group showed its strong suit in team work with the different nationalities. During the many hours on Sergey’s Mercedes bus through the Barents landscape we experienced lots of energetic conversations. Sharing thoughts and arguments always sparked new ideas. Whether the hot topic of the day was journalism, gender equality in work field or popularity of veganism in different countries we could always count on getting enlightening opinions from Russia, Sweden and Finland.
To me as one of the participants, the trip perfectly demonstrated how creativity is nourished by bringing people together like this. In advance I had very little knowledge what is the end game in all of this. But after a few days all I really wanted was to meet more new people and figure out ways to bring all of these experiences and stories together.
For me maybe the biggest element on the tour was the overall role and importance of the impressive nature. And I was never alone with my love towards the arctic nature. The concerns about the climate change became very realistic through these people. I actually felt being part of something bigger than myself.
Working together with this kind of group of young active journalists gives a whole new perspective to the job as a young journalist. We should never get stuck in our habits or to the pre-made routines of our industry. In these digital times we don’t have to care about the hundreds of kilometers between us – even in the Barents Region. We can and will surely cross the borders even after our Robota 2018 road trip.