Lena Reschke has been a very valued part of the SE Forum team over the last few months, as a Program Assistant for the SE Outreach Accelerator. She made it run smoothly and made it the success it’s been – filled with inspiring study visits, action-packed workshops, and good times. Here she shares her thoughts on the past months and her time in Sweden.

Yes, you read the heading correctly – over the past seven months I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, working and becoming friends with amazing people from 14 different countries. In March, I got on the train from Kiel in Northern Germany to Stockholm. I knew I was going to be a Program Assistant at Social Entrepreneurship Forum, but I didn’t know what my experience in Sweden would be like.

As a student of the Masters program ‘Sustainability, Society and the Environment’ at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, I deliberately chose an internship in social entrepreneurship as well as the destination Stockholm. Sweden is known as a pioneer for sustainable development and Stockholm is famous for innovation, so it seemed like a perfect fit with my studies. But I hadn’t realized how international my experience would be.

A cultural mix of people

It started with my day-to-day life at work. The team at SE Forum is small but mixed with different cultural backgrounds. Might be the secret formula for their phenomenal teamwork, which acknowledges and supports each other’s work? I love their hands-on mentality as well as the weekly reflections on Fridays to celebrate successes of the week. Furthermore, I will always remember the walking-meetings with my colleague Fiona and the surprising face of my French friend when I told him how refreshing it is to have meetings while walking!

Apart from my international team, I also had the chance to work together with entrepreneurs from around the world. They spent six weeks in Stockholm for the SE Outreach Accelerator and shared a lot of stories about their home countries. We danced to Nigerian music, enjoyed Pakistani dessert, tasted rum from Guatemala and had countless Swedish Fikas. Bringing together people from different countries, at different ages, with different religions, working in different fields but all with the vision to make a positive change in the world is definitely the beauty of the SE Outreach Accelerator! And I’m very happy to have been part of their journey.

It wasn’t all just work

When not working, I did bicycle tours through the city of Stockholm, cooked dinners, hiked in national parks, practiced AcroYoga or just drank wine in parks with friends from Brazil, France, Spain, Greece and South Africa. We had all just moved to Stockholm and realized that exploring the city together was much more fun than doing it on your own. My Swedish landlords, who were more of a host family for me, introduced me to Swedish culture by taking me to a Valborg celebration, their summer house in the archipelago and surprised me on my birthday with singing the Swedish version of Happy Birthday.

Hearing all these stories, sharing moments of laughter and learning more about how to scale a social enterprise made my internship unforgettable. It is time to say a big THANK YOU to the whole SE Forum team for making my stay in Stockholm unique and to all my friends from Sweden, South Africa, Ukraine, Brazil, Nigeria, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Guatemala, Pakistan, Malaysia, France, Spain and Greece – I hope to see you all again, no matter where in the world!