Category Archive : erasmus+

Wider Horizons – Youth Exchange & Synergy Basic Program

Wider Horizons brought together 39 young people from Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Italy, Greece and Poland for the period of 10 days for the First Basic Synergy Training in Austria.

The first stage of the project took place in Villach Landskron, where the participants were familiarized with methods and techniques that lead to self-improvement and self-development. Each day was held under a different topic, which were “judgement”, “patterns”, “self-loyalty”, “spontaneity” and “opportunities”.

With this a deeper understanding of oneself as well as on the world around us, was created. While working on judgement, the participants learned that each person choses to perceive or ignore the things that happen around them. Perception is a strong and individual process that is influenced by the patterns a person follows. Following patterns is something that happens unconsciously, and to break them can have a more than positive result. For this, it is important to understand where the followed patterns come from. Through experiential learning and self-reflection the participants were able to learn to enjoy every process. By changing or controlling the focus, language and physiology, one can influence the state of oneself. The understanding that nobody makes us do things, but that only oneself is responsible for the actions taken, created many AHA-moments. 

The participants were familiarized with techniques and methods that can be of use in everyday life

situations. The purpose of Wider Horizons was “to create more successes in life while enjoying”. The second stage of Wider Horizons focused on applying the learned theory in real life. The participants got the chance to actively use the learned methods while experiencing Austrian culture. In this process, we experienced that in life, one should not ask “what are my limits” but rather “what can I create”! By taking actions and responsibility, every process can be enjoyable if you make it so.

Some testimonies of the participants that describe how they widened their horizons: 

„Not only, did i find out who I am and who I want to be, but further got a deeper understanding of the

patterns I follow in my everyday life.  I got in touch with my emotions and feelings and found new ways to deal with situations that put me out of my comfort zone. Leaving my “safe” environment and having to cope with scenarios that are particular and unknown to me, taught me that spontaneity can create an incredibly positive outcome, if I am committed. I realized that with a positive attitude and creativity I can achieve everything that I set my mind on and nothing can stop me to reach my goals.

„The aspects of self-reflection helped me to understand why I am who I am and what I need to do to live a happier and healthier life. By additionally interacting with other participants, I learned to change my point of view to widen my horizon. Through switching my perspective, I was able to work on issues that held me back, and take steps towards the right direction. I have become more active and got the new understanding, that I am responsible and capable of being the change I want to see in the world.“

„I feel like this project gave me a big opportunity to learn about myself. It was hard for me at
first but at one point I understood that it does not matter what our trainers were talking about,
it only matters what I want to get and take from it and this was a great feeling. We can learn
in every single situation no matter the surroundings.“

„All in all I really loved the experience,

I loved the people there, I loved the 
save, distanced

environment, is was an really awesome experience, that I would recommend to everyone.“

„This project made me to confront myself – my beliefs about myself and the others, my insecurities,
self-image, relationships with others. It made me get out of my comfort zone most of the times and
meet myself better. I became aware about parts of me I didn't even know were there. For the first time I think, I really had a courage to step out of my comfort zone, to take that next step I was often too afraid to take.“

„This program was exactly what I needed. I wanted to try something close to my interests and “Personal Development” was the best for the beginning in this kind of programs. I feel absolutely satisfied with my choice of participating in this project. I met some nice people from other cultures. I have improved my communication skills in an international level. I realized how important is to be fluent in English. I learned to share my thoughts and problems with people that I didn’t know before. Now, I can say that I know more about myself and my way of thinking and acting.“

„Did it affect me a lot? In a certain way. The outdoor part was definitely the most impressive one it

helped me to stand out of my comfort zone and learn how strong I am. I guess that was the point.
I also enjoyed the time we could spend during our body practical trainings. It made me feel that I
can stand alone having a lot of people beside me and enjoy the nature, myself, my thoughts and
be concentrated on my feelings at the very moment.“

„During both parts of Wider Horizons I felt a lot of mixed emotions and sensations and I’ve lived them fully even thanks to the people who were with me and shared their own feelings. I found myself questioning things or processes that usually are automatic in my routine and I understood where I feel more unsatisfied about my life and how I can change this if I really want to. The natural spots around the accomodations also gave me the chance to have few peaceful moments by myself during which I was able to have a “zoom out” and focus better on the whole process that sometime really overwhelmed me in terms of thoughts. I’m still convinced that I have to improve the way I react to situations and face problems but now I know I have more tools that I can use in order to achieve more
successes.“

„Although I had been skeptical and I kept questioning the methods used throughout this

project,now I keep saying that I would do it again for sure and also propose to others to go there.
So, I guess this is the most important thing for me.“

„I’m glad I was thrown into a strange place and I enjoyed everything very much. I know how

important it is to be sure, believe in myself and be strong, but it is even more important to give others the chance to surprise me and prove themselves. I realized this in so many moments during the whole project, but, in particular, my teammates on the outdoor part opened my eyes in so many ways. I abandoned my worried mother-role.. I was trying to be chill and think and worry less. I trusted my team mates and, thanks to this, my outdoor experience was wonderful!“

„In 10 days I met a lot of great people, both trainers and participants, and I had loads of conversations that opened my mind on a variety of topics. Thanks to this experience I learned to trust others, to believe in myself and to be more aware of my decision-making abilities. Furthermore, I learned to handle in a better way difficult and stressful situation. I highly recommend this project to all the people that are looking for a way to create a positive change in their life.“

„There were parts in the project, which was highly emotional, with a load of ups and downs, where I was not so sure what I was doing here, but having completed the project I can see that some of the things that irked me, had a reason for being that way and I was able to learn a lot and grow as a person and in my identity and in the way I interact with other people and the way I perceive new things and barriers. I have become more self-confident, able to stand up even more for my believes and interact with unknown people, which always was difficult for me.“

„For sure it was outside of my zone of comfort but it was not uncomfortable as there was always
something new to learn or do what I wouldn’t expect from myself. I feel that after the training
I can handle unpredictable, unpleasant or just unexpected events much easier and that gives
me a lot of self confidence. This was all happening in very stimulating group of young people
who shared similar goal of learning, exploring which made it possible to connect and create
friendships and to support and learn from each other. „
„Self development attracted me because I wanted to sort out my life. I had very mixed

feelings during the exchange, but that was mainly because it was so intensive, every moment of the
exchange being with your thoughts, I was not used to that in my regular surrounding. The project
gave me some insights in how I can change my life, how I can try to be a better human being. I
improved my teamwork, I realized I can do a lot more than I was thinking until that moment. I also
realized that I must be persistent in solving my problems, the theoretical part of the project really
helped me with that. I learned a lot of useful and practical stuff, like coming up with plans for future,
taking the matter in my own hands. And now I am putting all that into practice. I can’t really say that
after the project my life is now 100% in order but I am definitely trying to achieve more, working
hard, and trying to be inspired every day.“
„At the end of my basic I believe I was more self- confident, determined to reach my personal goals and more comfortable in many situations I have to face in my life. I lived strong emotions attending this project but I received also useful inputs to reflect about my actions and my attitude.“
„I learned that there are a lot of nice people out there and that all one needs to do is ask. There were parts in the project where I was emotionally overwhelmed, because I was in touch with parts of me that I had forgotten about. I had great moments with my friends that brought us really close to each other. I loved the comradery between the participants, I loved the laughs, the cries and all the hugs. My attitude towards the world in general is broadened, especially after the outdoor experience. The

world does not seem so big anymore.“

Di5Connected – our follow-up :)


Two months after the amazing, technology free project Di5connected in Cortemilia, Italy, the Austrian girls organise da follow-up event in Graz. Samire came to visit Antonia, Elisa and Marion in Graz in order to prepare the event and of course to check up on how we’re doing with our contracts! We decided to invite people to an Erasmus+ game afternoon where we told them something about Erasmus+, the project we recently went to as well as the board game we created ourselves.They were intrigued, and it was fun to play the game again.

We took some pictures of our preparatory meeting and with the people, but while playing, there were of course no phones allowed! We also took a video explaining the basic rules. At the end of this blogpost you’ll find a more detailed description and instructions for our board game.



Instructions

GAME OF PHONES

Number of players

More than 6 (depends on how many characters you have), it has to be an even number

Purpose of the game:
Two teams play against each other: the connected (with a phone) against the disconnected. The goal is to “turn” all the players of the opposing team. When all players are either connected or disconnected that team wins. But: there is no limit how often players can be turned, turned back and then turned again.

How to play step by step:

1. At first draw a character card. On the card you can see the name of your character, the team (WiFi= team connected) and your special power. Find also the same playing piece. If you are in team connected you get a smartphone that you have to in the playing piece. You also get your special power card in the beginning.

2. Prepare separate decks of “!” and “?” cards.

3. Choose a starting point from which to enter the game. Make sure that players of the same team don’t sit next to each other, they can’t enter through the same door.

4. You move by rolling the dice, you can move the number of fields and the direction you want.

5. Meeting people: Players are turned during fights. Those can happen anywhere two or more players from opposing teams (means: a player with a smartphone and a player without a smartphone) meet: in the corridors, in rooms and in Cortemilia. If you meet a person from your team you don’t fight.

6. How to enter a room:
reach the door with the exact number. If you reach the door by accident, you have to enter.

7. How to go to Cortemilia: reach the field marked “?” and complete the task. You don’t have to enter Cortemilia if you accidentally reach the “?”

8. Fights: all involved players roll the dice, the higher number wins. The player with the lower number has to change the team (to take or to give away the smartphone). If there are multiple players from the same team involved, the results are added up.
When fights happen in the room, the players draw a “!” card first. If a player draws their own special power, they can use it immediately to win the fight or choose to keep it for later in order to use the special power as it is described on the character card. Special powers can only be used in Cortemilia, and a player can only carry one special power at a time. If a player has been turned and draws their special power card during a fight, they re-enter their original team.

9. Important: Even if you change you team a couple of times during the game you still aim to belong to the team from the beginning (given on your card). eg: you are the grandma from team disconnected (without smartphone). You meet a person with a smartphone lose a fight. So you get a smartphone. Next time you meet a person without a smartphone, so you have to fight again. You should lose in order to get rid of your smartphone and be disconnected again.


“?”: draw a card and complete the task. If you don’t want to do it, you have to skip one round.

-open sharing: roll the dice and see which number is which task

-reflection group: roll the dice and see which number is which task

-challenge: roll the dice and see which number is which task

-meditation: skip one round

-coffee break: the whole team skips one round




ENJOY PLAYING AND STAY DISCONNECTED!
YOUR AUSTRIAN TEAM

Youth exchange „If not you, then who?“ – Lithuania

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!
Yours,

Nina



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.

Mohammed

#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.
Marion


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!

Gregor

#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.

Antonia

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.

Samire

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:

http://di5connected.simplesite.com/

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


We still like to move it, move it! – Our Follow-ups

“BE A BETTER EXPLORER THAN DORA”

During our Youth Exchange in Vienna we experienced what a great impact sports and movement and spending time with others had on our wellbeing. So, we (Marion and Elisa) decided to spread the energy we gained from that project. We created an event on Facebook and invited everybody to a treasure hunt with the motto “Be a better explorer than Dora”. The treasure hunt aimed to combine being active, exploring the city of Graz, having fun together and of course making Erasmus+ projects more visible in our surroundings.

We decided on 22 tasks for the participants to fulfil within two hours. The tasks were a mixture of fun-facts such as “Which international popstar went to school in Graz?” (Conchita Wurst, by the way) , exercise “How many steps lead up to Schlossberg?” (260) and specific Graz knowledge like “Find the snowman that is there all year round”. We asked the participants to take pictures and videos as proof of them having completed each task. One we even completed with the participants after the treasure hunt: we sang the song “Hulapalu” together.

We gathered on Saturday 25th of March at the main square. In order for potential participants to recognise us and to gain attention among other people, we had poster of Dora with us. We didn’t even have to wait for a minute and we had a group of people around us who couldn’t wait to start the treasure hunt. We formed smaller groups to enable competition for a very special prize.

After two hours, which were flying by, we checked the completed tasks of each group. All the groups did an excellent job and completed almost all the given tasks. Due to that fact we decided that it would only be fair to have a prize for everyone: Chocolate! 🙂

All in all, we were more than satisfied with the results of our follow-up. Everyone seemed very interested in the Erasmus+ programme, and some people stayed a bit longer afterwards for a chat and to get more information. One participant also showed up on Nina’s workshop, which was a very pleasant surprise.

Yours Marion & Elisa

„HOW THE HELL DOES MY FRIEND TRAVEL SO MUCH?“

Coming back from the youth exchange in Vienna, we knew that we should think of a follow-up activity that has to do with sports -like the youth exchange- and should promote Erasmus+. As Marion and Elisa already focused on the moving part, Martin and me (Nina) decided to reach out and get people to know about Erasmus+ and all its great opportunities.

While brainstorming how to best do this, we agreed together with the whole Austrian team, that the fact that we all travel quite a lot by participating in projects, we should definitely use it for a catchy title. Said, done. On 29th of March we implemented our little workshop on Erasmus+ in Logo Youth center in Graz.

What we did not think through was that there are already Easter holidays… which is why we ended up being a small – but very productive – group of people. (as you can see – working hard!)
While it rained outside we got to know each other, exchanged our experience in the world of E+ and thought about why it is so hard to get people to try out something new.

After lots of snacks, laughs and funny stories we came up with the idea to try to make a workshop in some schools. There we could explain the ideas behind E+ and reach students plus teachers (who need to excuse their missing classes later
on…)

Although our workshop did not go as planned, as everybody knew lots about E+ already, we managed to quickly change our plans and work with what is there. It has been a great afternoon and we are looking forward to putting our idea into action!

Yours Nina & Martin