Youth exchanges: prespective of a youth leader
My name is Kico. I work as a youth technician for the Town council in my city.We deal with young people daily. Workshops, trainings, theatre, travels, employ, leisure, legal advise... and european programs.
Those programs, when related to youth, are included in the ‘Erasmus+’ divided in three ‘Key Actions’. The one related to mobility is KA-1. In this group we find Youth Exchanges. You can find appropiate proposals and topics to participate in different places on the net, but we prefer www.salto-youth.net, such an interesting resource when talking about trainig and non formal education.
As we are working with youngsters in different fields, it’s quite easy for us to find the proper participants for each project. In fact, once they talk one to each others, it becomes even easier. A youth exchange it´s the opportunity to travel abroad and to involve for around a week in a subject you like with people your same age you haven’t seen before. So, imagine a topic (let’s say ‘cooking and evironment’) decide a country (Hungary, is it ok?) and several countries (mainly EU countries). You will travel (most of the expenses covered, even more if you get cheap flights) with a ‘leader’ who will be close to you, helping and facilitating.
The experience begins as soon as the participants are selected. We like to work with them previously in our country on the subject that will be addressed with the large group. Keep in mind that this learning process enters the non-formal education, so it involves participants to contribute and share their knowledge and are encouraged to be actively involved in learning. They acquire knowledge and experience in a natural way in a process of give and take.
An important fact is that in addition to expand your knowledge on the proposed topic, participants will improve their skills in aspects initially unthinkable for them. Keep in mind that the learning process takes place in a different environment to the usual, so many more factors influence than originally planned. Language -usually English- facilitate or hinder depending on the cases, also customs of the host country and the other colleagues who compose the group, their traditions, their ways of thinking and learning, their views, food, -either currency can be different from your country- are factors that allow your mind receives countless stimulation that help to be more understanding and tolerant.
I realize that young people of my country, on the return trip shown a different attitude than they showed in the going. They have learned, have lived, are willing to take an active part in their communities, have encouraged and have opened their minds, they have learned to consider and evaluate other points of view, things they had not thought about and new things and ideas from now taken into account. Of course they have expanded their lists of friends on social networks and maintain, in some cases, contacts that can bring new experiences in the future.
Of course there will be fun experiences and anecdotes due to cultural diversity. Body language and gestures are not always interpreted the same in all countries, so an open and tolerant attitude will always be your best passport.
Do you consider to take part in a youth exchange? Just think you only need a group of friends interested in a topic, making a registration (in order to get you identification number) and get ready to have an unforgetable experience! Do consider to contact your nearest Europe Direct center for good advise.
In any case, consider that we will never find two identical exchanges: place, participants, working conditions and willingness of the group will make a unique experience each activity.
Youth Tecnician.-Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Diputación de Córdoba