Youth Exchange „Di5connected“ – Cortemilia/Italy

Youth Exchange „Di5connected“ – Cortemilia/Italy

disconnection from technologies – reconnection with our 5 senses 
9 days without an internet connection.
9 days without smartphones.
9 days without the laptop.
9 days without a watch.
9 days without social media.
Are you ready?

The description of the project doesn’t sound like an experience we are living everyday. Exciting and a bit worrying at the same time.

Like a blind dance: What will expect us in Cortemilia

Nevertheless or just because of that 25 young people from Croatia, Italy, Romania and Austria gathered in beautiful Cortemilia (Italy) and took part in this Erasmus+ project. The Youth Exchange took place from 18th to 26th of April and was organized by Associazone Vagamondo and their partner organisations.

Ready to be disconnected? Locking up our technical devices

The week turned out to be full of learning, low moments, reflection, sharings, challenges, singing, dancing, conversations, creativity, enjoying the beautiful venue, tasty food, the smell of biscotti di nocciola (hazelnut cookies), massages, laughing and reactivating our 5 senses. But most of all it was full of magical moments.

The “real” social network

During this project we created a “real” social network and enjoyed the positive impact it had on our wellbeing. Despite of the fact that in the beginning a lot of us were struggling with locking up their technical devices, most of us were almost sad when we got the technologies back at the end of the week. Luckily, we created a great a support system in order to stick to our goals and to implement what we have learned in our daily lives.

Di5connected contract – support system for achieving our goal back at home
Get an impression what the Austrian team experienced there:

#my expectations before the project

As I signed up for the project, excited and curious as to how it will be and what kind of people will the students be I generally had the feeling that it’ll be somewhat energy draining, peaceful because of the absence of technology, refreshing and highly enjoyable.

Reading through the posts on Facebook before the beginning of the project I can safely say that I had a glimpse of what it’ll be like with the others in this project and so my expectations were reshaped due to that.


#what it feels like being disconnected

Being disconnected felt strange for me at first. It didn’t really realize that I had given my phone away until the next morning when I automatically reached for it to turn off the alarm. Only that it wasn’t there. Throughout the first day I had these urges to check my phone regularly, but from the second day on I started to enjoy this freedom from technologies, and maybe also responsibilities.

Without technologies, I was much more aware of my surroundings. I started paying attention to small details, such as the flowers in the grass or this particular texture of wood. It also allowed me to be more attentive when it came to getting to know other people, because there was no distraction for both parties. Not having a phone allowed me to give the people I was talking to (and also the sessions that we had) my full attention, I listened more carefully and paid more attention to what people said and how they behaved. But what impressed me the most was how creative we got, both when it came to completing tasks (e.g. preparing the national evening, creating a board game, …), but also when it came to free time entertainment. We couldn’t just google things and have it the easy way when we wanted to know certain things, we had to use our brains, imagination and memory in order to remember the lyrics of a song or what the beard of DJ Ötzi looks like. It is impressive how much you actually remember when there is no small machine that gives you all the answers you want (but not necessarily need) instantly.

Cultural evening: The Austrian showed the best aspects about their culture by presenting the “Musikantenstadl”

#what I’ve learned during the YE

Being one week without ‘technologies’ thought me a lot more things than I had expected. It was a very intense time because as I was open for the different quality of living. I realised how much I was missing because of the frequent distraction of my phone. I learned that waking up and starting the day with a calm moment in the nature instead of checking WhatsApp and YouTube lifted my day to a completely different level. In general, I relearned how much confidence and strength the nature is giving to me! Furthermore, I realised what a huge negative influence technologies have on my social relationships between me and the people around me. In this week I got to know 25 people on such a deep level, I would need at least 2 month for that if I’d have my phone with me all the time. It was really great to have such a close community where people speak and laugh instead of watching their phones. Except that I learned how I lack concentration if I have a ‘normal’ day with technology. It was really nice to see again how fast I can learn if I really concentrate on something and how creative I can be if I give 100% of me. In general I can say that I learned how the technology sometimes keeps me from having the best time possible because it disconnects me from my surroundings and that creates a bad feeling over a long period. I didn’t know that a certain unhappiness comes from my ‘daily abuse’ of technology but know I’m a aware of that and I will feel it directly if it comes back!


#my magical moment

My magical moment? Well, that was a question I had to answer myself almost everyday. A moment, that is still in my mind, was the moment we created our own board game “Game of phones”. Thinking about it, I still get excited.


Disconnection woke up our creativity: Presentation of “Game of phones” – our fantastic board game

#how I will apply what I have learned

The experience and the knowledge that I gained during this youth exchange is life changing for me in the matter of how i see the connection between me and technology in my daily life.
I have set some goals for myself that I am going to achieve on a certain date. Hopefully, these will become part of my lifestyle. I will be creative without using technology and will be doing things that I never thought I could do (like when we invented a sound and the board game during the YE) It was mind blowing after I realised what I am capable of so much more than I thought and I am certain that I would have never believed that i have such skills if I hadn’t participated in this YE.

By avoiding technology in my daily life:
I have a greater level of presence
Deeper and more meaningful conversations
Increased productivity
I started doing outdoor sports and
I am getting to know myself better
Probably at some point I am going to forget what we did during this YE but I will never forget how it made me feel and the impact that it had on me.


Together we mastered all the challenges

A big thank you to everyone who made this experience possible – especially to the project team with Fabiano, Fabrizio and Merche!

Here you can find out more about the project and the participants:

That post caught your attention and you can’t wait to learn more?

Keep informed – we are looking forward to meet you on our follow-up event 🙂

All the best,

your Austrian team

Antonia, Marion, Gregor, Mohammed, Samire and Elisa