Category Archive : experience

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.“

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


Basic Training for Trainers – Lecce

From the 1st until 7th October wEUnite had the pleasure to prolong summer period by taking part in a training course entitled „B.T.T. – basic training for trainers“ in Lecce, Italy
Elisa, Manuel and Nina decided that this is their chance to start their career as trainers in the field of youth work and especially Erasmus+ projects. Having had a journey of approximately 24 hours all of them were happy when they finally arrived at the sunny venue and met the organizers and already some other participants.

Elisa, Manuel, Nina

Within those days we had around 60 hours of workshops, discussions, presentations and activities dealing with individual and group learning processes, needs assessment, learning styles, group dynamics, planning and implementing various activities and methods of non-formal education. 



Thinking back now, Elisa said that before coming to Lecce she was excited to learn what should be considered when designing a training and which are the concepts behind. Furthermore, she expected to find out about the tasks of a trainer and to get to know useful tools for being a trainer. And of course she was also looking forward to meeting a lot of interesting people. A tool that Elisa found very useful was working in the co-trainer support groups. It helped her to stay focused during the whole week and motivated her each day to work on her personal learning goals. In the evenings they met for reflection and talked about what has worked for everyone throughout the day and in which field they still want to improve. Having had this support system definitely boosted her motivation a lot.

What Manuel has learnt most from BTT is that imperfect action is better than perfect

inaction, especially when it comes to trying out something new or to step out of the comfort zone. One can’t plan everything, but it is good to be well prepared and to have a plan B in case things don’t work out as expected. Being good in improvising is a necessary skill for a trainer as well as letting participants decide by themselves how much they want to challenge themselves (challenge by choice). What he found surprising was that is it not as hard as it seems to facilitate a workshop because many things are repetitive and if one knows the basic concepts and methods the rest will just fall in place. But one shouldn’t forget that there is always more than meets the eye of a participant. There is a lot of work and preparation necessary in order to be successful in implementing activities.

After this week Elisa, Manuel and Nina know how to set SMART goals in order to be successful, how the circle of learning works and can be used, which phases groups usually go through, how to give and take feedback and how to implement activities by themselves, to mention a few.

Having taken a first step towards trainership (no it is not a ship with trainers on it), the Austrian participants also got valuable feedback on their own workshop sessions from other participants that they want to share here:


What makes Elisa a great trainer is that she always gives her best and can easily adapt to

Last evening – cheers to new trainers!

different situations. She is able to quickly find her place in a team, puts effort in setting goals and is a well-organized person that still stays flexible if needed. Her positive and supportive attitude are also appreciated qualities.

What makes Manuel a great trainer is that he is curious, creative and has a positive mindset. He asks whenever he isn’t sure about understanding things, creates a great atmosphere in a group and works hard in order to achieve goals. Manuel is also good in motivating people to give their best while giving everyone space to be part of a team.

What makes Nina a great trainer is that she explains things in a peaceful way, is good in accomplishing goals, knows how to organize herself and sessions and is supportive in every way. When leading a session she doesn’t lose control over it, she is consistent and combines learnings in a good way.


Thank you very much to L´Arca del Blues for organizing such an amazing project!  Your obviously tired and exhausted team Austria 🙂 





Manuel’s CHOICE

I did a special training recently and I want to share my experiences with you 🙂

From 4th to 8th September 2017 I did the Choice training at Olde Vechte in Ommen, Netherlands. You can find information about it at the following website: http://oldevechte.com/open-call-trainings/choice/

First of all: to do this training, you have to do the Event Wise training or Basic Synergy program first. I did the Basic Synergy program in Cortemilia, Italy some weeks before. You can read about it in our blog post (http://www.weuniteaustria.eu/2017/07/united-we-win-youth-exchange-synergy.html). If you want to have information about this or anything else, just write to me and I am happy to talk to you. 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/mangei

Now, lets dive into my experiences!

I had my expectations about this training… and I was completely wrong. There is a lot of information on the website about the Choice training, about the objectives and so on and I really wanted to tackle these points, since I love to work on and improve myself, but I never would have guessed where this training would actually lead me and I am really happy about this surprise. Why? Today, speaking of myself too, if we hear or read about things, we always seem to already know everything, but things are never the way we think they will be and because of this wrong believe, we miss a lot of opportunities. We make assumptions and don’t even give things and people a chance to explain themselves, so that we may learn and grow. Some trainings, like this one, are different and they build on this surprise moment or the unknown and I love it. It stops me from thinking that I already know what will happen… because in fact I don’t know what will happen. This is also called life. Every moment in life is different. And every moment, is a moment, we can learn from and grow with.

About this training in general: I won’t share any specific details or activities we did in this training, so you can experience it on your own. In fact, it really doesn’t matter and the journey is different for everyone (see previous paragraph about, why my experiences are unique and not comparable to what you might experience). Nevertheless, the outcome might be somehow similar, when I compare myself to other participants. Just check the website for possible outcomes like „Lasting self-confidence„, „Renewed quality relationships„, and „Connect to live and opportunities„.

So, I was at this training, went through the whole process and I have to say: It was the best thing I did in my life so far. I can not describe this feeling. It’s unbelievable. I feel kind of reborn and full of joy and excitement. To be fair, I have to say, that it was also the biggest mind-fuck I’ve ever had so far in my life and I had many ups and downs during these days, but it was just the right thing! All the objectives which were promised on the website were fulfilled. I found the solution to so many things somewhere I had never guessed to find it, even if it is so obvious. I really loved the closing words by the founder of Olde Vechte, Marko Vlaming, who said: „I would not call it a training, I would say it’s a Wake-up Call of things we already know but forgot„. I just can sign his words without adding anything.

I encourage everyone to go through the same process and to find what you really need in life, to live your life to the fullest, to be happy, to be motivated and also to be wild.

Not only the trainers, Yassar Markos and Veronika Pavlová, and the co-trainers, the program but also the participants on the training were just amazing. I am so thankful for all the things I’ve learned and got from all of you. You made this amazing training possible and helped me to grow! Big thanks to all of you! Furthermore, I want to give a very special thanks from the deepest point of my heart to Krissy, since she was my base at this training and helped me to overcome my biggest resistances, took away so many fears, taught me how to be in the presence and she made every day shining for me! I love you! 🙂

Since I am now back from this trip, many good things happened meanwhile already and I cannot believe that it really happened. It just feels so good. Compared to other trainings, the outcome feels totally different and I know that these outcomes are long-lasting, since fundamental changes happened inside me which were definitely life-changing.

Me flying home from the training, being tired but full of happiness. 🙂

I am really, really glad and happy that I did this training and I guess, when you see me, you can see my new self by just looking into my bright blue eyes. And if there are times, I may forgot this new feeling, please just remind me about this time. 🙂

Yours,
Manuel