From 18th until 25th of May we had the opportunity, thanks to our friends from the BetterMaking organization, to take part in the youth exchange entitled „If not you, then who?“ in Lithuania. Together with youngsters from Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary we worked on solidarity within Europe and how we can strengthen it.
Arriving at the venue we were warmly welcomed by the organizers, who immediately introduced us to Lithuania’s national sport (some even say it is their religion) Basketball. In a cozy atmosphere we gathered in the conference room for the first time to watch the game together and started to get to know each other a bit. After long journeys we got time to rest or have a walk in the area before the real start in the next morning.
The youth exchange took place in Riterio Krantas, there is no better way to describe this magic venue, organizers, programme and people than with the song from one of our first teambuilding activities, which says
„Somewhere between the Europe, (the Europe)
and the the Baltic Sea (the Baltic Sea)
There is a land of very (very, very, very)
Very beautiful beauty.“
In the first days we got to know each other, learnt to work together, trust each other and began to create friendships. From building spaghetti bridges, to pulling out the beetroot to being blind-folded and creating a perfect square we bonded and became a real team.
Another key element of the first day was the youthpass and Erasmus+. In groups of ‚oldies‘ and ’newbies‘ we explored why we are actually here and how we can proof what we have been doing once we come back home.
Throughout the week we worked on European solidarity and how we can become active ourselves to create a sense of community. Discussing relevant issues in national and international teams opened our eyes and increased intercultural knowledge and understanding. Already on the first day we knew that our big aim of the week will be to implement activities in a local highschool and to inform the students about Erasmus+, which is why we worked a lot on our speaking skills.
In the next days we gave speeches in different ways on European topics, discussed education in Oxford debates and created our own countries for a simulation game. In all those sessions we were supposed to work in small groups, but overall we had one big goal in common that we had to keep in mind. The simulation game clearly showed how Europe functions and how easy it is to drift off and forget about a common agreement and goal. Thanks to the game and the discussion afterwards we realized how relevant solidarity amongst our countries is and that we should always keep the bigger picture in mind.
And because personal experience says more than any blogpost, there are also impressions of participants:
The project in Riterio Krantas was unbelievable. I think the most fascinating thing for me was the people that I have met and connected with there and who I can call friends now. Also the place was amazing the view and the nature you have there was incredible. (Ahmed)
This youth exchange was by far one of my best Erasmus+ project. Once again I learnt why I am staying in this Erasmus+ world. It was amazing to see all the effort, preparation and happiness from everyone throughout the week. There was a lot to learn from each session and I am more than grateful that I was part of this experience! (Nina)
After many working days and party nights it was time for feedback, last letters and evaluation before we had to say good-bye again – or rather see you soon 🙂
The project was intense, fun and created beautiful memories, learnings and future project-partnerships! Thank you Innoved Lietuva for organizing this amazing youth exchange!