Youth Exchange „imPRO“ – Palmse/Estonia
Throughout the week were challenged with different activities which helped us to expand our comfort zone and to think out the box. We started with team building activities in order to build trust and to improve our cooperation in the group. Every day we could prove ourselves in impro theatre activities which got more and more challenging. We spend the evenings discovering our cultural differences and similarities. We presented our countries in groups and we also organised the “Eurovision Night Palmse” in which we performed songs from each other’s countries.
In our free time, we discovered beautiful Palmse and especially plenty of snow which covered the Lahemaa National Park. Moreover, we had the opportunity to enjoy the typical Estonian sauna.
The whole programme was preparing us for the “TEDx Palmse” which took place at the end of the week. Each of us could deliver a short speech about a topic of our choice in front of the whole group and could receive helpful feedback. Throughout the week, our learning process was supported by daily reflection groups. We also receive input about the key competencies and the Youthpass which we could complete at the end of this week. We also learned a lot about the Erasmus plus and opportunities in Europe and even proved our knowledge in a quiz.
All told, the time passed so quickly and it was time to go home again. We left with a lot of wonderful experiences, reflections, memories, new friends and even some presents from Santa.
My expectations before the project:
Before I came to this project I had no idea what is improvisation about. We had some funny exercises, where we had to do spontaneous role plays with fictional speeches. I really enjoyed it, because I never had this kind of improvising in my life before. After the project I was more comfortable with things like improvising, getting out of my comfort zone and my public speaking skills increased!
What I have learned:
Before we started with improvisation and the main part of this project, we first focused on getting to know each other and strengthening our group with different team building exercises and games. Because there were people of different ages from five different nations I learned more about them, their dreams and important things in life, which was really inspiring and could let me see life from other perspectives. During these days I also learned more about traditions and behaviour of people from other countries, to be more open for other peoples stories and their way of thinking. Another great experience was that this project showed me again, that culture and language are no barrier to making friends and how easy and beautiful it can be to connect with people who are from different countries. Therefore a big part for me was improving my cultural awareness. To be able to spend a week with many people together in harmony, I noticed how important it is to be respectful and selfless and to go through the day with a collective consciousness and its associated actions.
The improvisation exercises gave the opportunity to leave the personal comfort zone and to notice that there is nothing wrong with what a person can contribute. Improvisation lets you be creative in a wilder form where you have the chance to impress your thoughts and feelings. Although I didn’t feel as comfortable as I wished with these exercises, in the beginning, it became easier for me over time and I felt more self-confident as well. I learned the importance of being able to think and act spontaneous – no matter if it is during these exercises or in normal life. I experienced how great it can be to not overthink something and to just go with the flow.
Furthermore, I became more relaxed when I had to present myself in front of a group of other people in what way I could improve my presentation skills as well.
The most important thing is that during this whole week I have learned more about my strengths but also weaknesses and my dreams and goals I want to achieve in life – and not to forget, that you shouldn’t take life too seriously!
My magical moment:
There were so many special moments during the whole week that it is hard to decide on one. However, I think the final TEDx-speeches we did on a second-to-last evening were definitely a magic moment for everyone. The whole week led up to that moment: day by day and step by step we increased our self-confidence so that eventually speaking in front of the whole group was not as scary anymore as it seemed to us the moment we heard about the fact that we had to do such a speech at the beginning of the week. Of course, I was still nervous but the atmosphere in the group was very welcoming and encouraging and making mistakes was okay.
I was the first one to speak (it was decided by drawing a card who would have to speak when). At first, I didn’t like the idea but eventually, it was great because then I could listen to what all the others had to say with full attention and without worrying about my own speech. It was a great experience! Everyone did it differently: Some people told very personal stories, others were very creative or showed their knowledge in certain areas. After the speeches, I was so proud of myself and all the others. The reflection we did as a group afterwards was very moving: you could see that they felt the same way. Everyone grew not only as an individual but also as a member of the group.
How I will apply the things I have learned:
As we learned a lot of things during this amazing week, I can apply various skills to my life. Because of all the activities and exercises we did, I am more comfortable with my public appearance. Now I know that I can handle unfamiliar and unplanned situations a lot better than before. I am more comfortable because of the feedback I received in Estonia. Not only this, but I am also more self-confident. I know that I can trust myself and my abilities, no matter what situation will come. I am a student at the University of Graz and I had to do a presentation the week after the Youth Exchange and I already could see that I developed new skills. I think that we cannot see the progress we made in Palmse to its full extent now, but I am pretty sure that with some time we will see that we learned even more than we had thought and that we can apply a lot of it or all of it in our daily and professional life.
I know for me personally that I can apply a lot to my life. I am going to be a teacher and I am sure that I need a lot of improvisation skills during my working life. The team who organised everything had some amazing activities I would like to implement in my teaching one day. Most of them are excellent for language teaching or team building, which is important for a classroom. But I can also apply these skills into my daily life. No matter what situation we get into, we always need improvisation. I cannot wait to see the full extent of what I learned during this week, but I already can see a lot of it.
Already excited to learn more about Erasmus+ and Improvisation?
Be prepared for our follow-up in Graz!