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PROJECT JOURNEY OBSERVATIONS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF JYVÄSKYLÄ 5 / 2020

May 27, 2020

With our first year of operations coming to a close, it’s an opportune moment to sum up some of our observations and experiences in promoting compassion in the university community. We focused particularly on finding out what the staff at the project’s pilot university had to say and what they had learned when working on various parts of the larger project.

Saara Minkkinen, who is an HR coordinator, has paid close attention to the “Turning Compassion Into Wellbeing” (Myötätunnosta hyvinvointia) training sessions for the university staff.

Saara sees compassion as a timely and important topic, the meaning of which gets highlighted at times such as this pandemic.

Saara Minkkinen hymyilee. Saaralla on vaaleat hiukset, siniset silmät ja harmaa paita.; Saara Minkkinen ler. Saara har blont hår, blå ögon och en grå skjorta.; Saara Minkkinen is smiling. Saara has blonde hair, blue eyes and a gray shirt.

Saara Minkkinen, human resources

“Compassion and self-compassion have definitely piqued many people’s interests at our organization. A pilot-phase training session for student wellbeing advisors led to an epiphany about being compassionate and merciful to oneself, and those things were deemed prerequisites for showing compassion to others,” Saara explains, summarizing participants’ experiences.

“I would gladly see an increase in this kind of thinking so that our university could foster an even higher level of wellbeing as a workplace,” Saara adds.

University Teacher Tommi Mäkinen has been developing a group-based peer mentoring program with the project’s Facilitator and Specialist Sini Forssell.

He’s been examining the possibilities offered by compassion mentoring from different perspectives, specifically with a university setting in mind.

“At a university, and especially in working life, the uncertainty fueled by constant changes and the expectation of learning new things an

Tommi Mäkinen seisoo seinää vasten. Tommilla on ruskeat hiukset ja siniset silmät, päällään hänellä on harmaa huppari.; Tommi Mäkinen står mot väggen. Tommi har brunt hår, blå ögon och har på sig en grå luvtröja.; Tommi Mäkinen stands against the wall. Tommi has brown hair, blue eyes, and wears a gray hoodie.;

Tommi Mäkinen, department of Teacher Education

d developing oneself pose a challenge to people’s wellbeing. Self-compassion and compassion are skills that everyone should learn for their own life as well as their working life,” Tommi continues.

Sini gleefully says that cooperation has been a breeze with students as well.

“It’s been great to witness the level of interest that students have shown to compassion mentoring from the get-go. I’ve been especially pleased because students have felt that the groups have had an atmosphere of compassion and have provided a hurry-free space in the midst of the daily grind of studying, and they’ve also gotten a sense of belonging to a group. It’s been a pleasure to work with the students who have been coordinating the groups. They have such a wise approach to everything,” Sini reflects.

She also notes that graduate students, too, have shown interest in utilizing the mentorship model. Everything is well set for the autumn!

Text: Laura Heimonen, project manager, Nyyti