By Marieta Tselepi, Team Leader for the Greek team
On 12 of December thirty one participants from seven different countries from all around Europe came together for an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange program which took place in the beautiful city of Loutraki, Greece. The countries that participated in this event were Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, F.Y.R.O.M and Greece. The name of the hosting organization is Youth Business Network and the program’s title was Non Formal Education 2020 Challenges and Opportunities. Motivated and full of energy young people joined each other inLoutraki and from the very first day set aside their different ideologies in order to work together and bring into the mix new and innovating ideas about non formal education.
The participants had the opportunity to join different kinds of workshops the very first one being an introduction to non-formal education and the differences between it and the formal side of education, they were divided into four groups and they had to find arguments on how to persuade the youth into participating in an Erasmus + program and how to convince their parents to let them do it. The diverse points of viewfrom each group produced many ideas of why it is important to take part in these kind of projects. Furthermore, another very useful workshop was about decision making, the participants had to firstly think about their life goals and expectations and then they had to answer some questions about their inner feelings and the aims that they have set for themselves. The main objective of this was for everyone to understand better how to separate their career from their personal aims and how to manage their time in order to make their dreams a reality. Moving on, during the youth exchange program the participants were in many instances put into the position of a leader and present different projects, one of the most creative ones being the creation of a non-formal program taking into consideration everything that it is needed in order for it to be successful and present it to the other groups.
Another kind of workshops included one about all the programs that Erasmus+ has to offer, like the training programs the EVS and the youth exchanges followed by a debate about the positive and the negative aspects of those, as well as some personal experiences from some participants about them. Another also very informative workshop was led by an experienced participant on the subject of employment, CVs and the differences between the active and passive ways that you can search for a job. He divided the participants into three teams and presented them with the roles of mentors, directors of a company, job seekers and observers. They played their roles and simulated job interviews, the directors had to create a company, the job seekers had to make a CV and the observers had to take notes and comment on what the other groups worked on and how well they succeeded in that. Throughout these simulations they were able to learn new tips about how to answer to job interviews and generally how to find a job.
The organizing committee also gave each of the participants the change to become for some time the trainer and introduce a subject that they knew very well to the others. In addition, other meetings included a very interesting topic, where groups of four persons had to create and introduce new and innovating ideas about a new project that can take place after 2020 and preferably to not face the problems that the Erasmus+ faces now. The ideas that were produced were very different and if they can be implemented they can even help change the future. In addition, one more discussion moved on the topic of different opportunities for youth that take place to the participants’ countries and how the non-formal education system works in their countries.
But this particular Youth exchange program was not all about serious stuff. The participants managed to communicate and bond over the course of only seven days. With the help of intercultural nights, where the participants could present to the others their countries, history, values, their customs and cuisine, they managed all to have fun together listening to traditional music and playing games from the different countries. They also had the change to exchange their ideas on different subjects and create friendships that will last. They had the opportunity to work together and share adventures like walking for 16 kilometers in order to visit the Isthmus of Corinth as well as visit and explore one of the most important towns, from a historical point in Greece, Nafplio. The participants also visited the local municipality, where they debated on subjects of non-formal education, like the importance of non-formal education in schools and if it is possible and why should youth workers have to be certified. Lastly, the participants visited the new local library which is actually an open library that means that it has many windows and gardens and they discussed on how non formal education can help make it more approachable and useful to the locals.
Leaving from this city on 19 December the participants were certainly not ready to end this journey and leave Greece behind but the memories of this experience will always be with them and they will hopefully encourage them to join another project soon and maybe one day the results that they produced will be helpful in creating a better system for the future generations.
And last but not least a selfie from the Hosting Team :