- 2020 turned out to be a special year

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Norec had plans to gather up all loose ends and start full operations in Førde in 2020. The decision in 2017 to move what was then FK Norway from Oslo to Førde created some turmoil within the organisation. The move was made in 2018, with a turnover in personnel of 75%. We were issued with a new mandate in 2019 and the organisation changed its name to Norec. Our objectives in 2020 were to do our utmost to boost global partnerships leading up to 2030 and to send between 600 and 700 persons on exchange visits.

This was not possible, for obvious reasons: The global COVID-19 pandemic resulted in closed borders, with no opportunity for people to travel to different countries on exchange.

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs issued us with clear instructions: do what you can to maintain global partnerships! We therefore introduced digital aids over the next few months so that we could continue to cooperate even though we were not able to send personnel and volunteers on exchange.

The new norm became exchange of competencies via online meetings, with video, sound and images. We suddenly realised that this allowed more people to take part in discussions – not just those who would normally have been on exchange. With the absence of personnel on one-year exchange visits, former exchange participants now had the opportunity to help further develop our organisation.

Everyone at Norec – our participants, partners and the employees in Førde – have been working hard to identify new opportunities for international cooperation, and we have struck gold – finding alternative methods to increase our transfer of competencies between people and organisations. We have developed innovative methods, not as a substitute for exchange visits, but as complementary methods allowing more people to take part, and helping us reduce our air travel in the future.

2020 turned out to be a special year. One of the things we learned from 2020 is that the global population is so closely interlinked that it allows a virus to spread and develop into an international pandemic. The only way to stop the spread and make sure all those in need are vaccinated is global cooperation. Cooperation beats isolation, now more than ever.

Jan Olav Baarøy

Exchange in a year of change