From the 21st till the 28th of October, wEUnite organised a YouthExchange with partners from Estonia, Lithuania, Italy and Poland. The topic of the week was learning by playing – and that’s exactly what we did! 25 young people from these five countries, and actually many more, explored themselves and non-formal, playful education in a castle in Trofaiach, Austria.
The days were filled with different approaches and games about personal development, inclusion, and learning. First it was all about getting to know each other and building trust in order to work together as a group. This was achieved through games and playful activities outside, because we were very lucky with the weather in the beginning.
But also inside there was a lot of fun and learning through playing, for example with quizzes and roleplays. Throughout the rest of the week, we worked together in smaller and bigger
groups and created many beautiful things: games of our own, our own workshop session, a flashmob to promote Erasmus+.
Also in the evenings we spent our time together playing and inventing games. It seemed like we enjoyed being like children again, and at the same time learning from each other.
And because personal impressions tell more than anything else, here some testimonies by participants:
:Usually It takes me around two days to come out of the project I’ve been to and come back to the reality. I don’t know whether this week will that easy get out of my head with all the smiles, laughs, quotes, games and especially people. No matter the eyes, troubles or whatever. We worked, we laughed, we communicated we cooperated. That project was useful for me as it proved one more time that there are people who create the projects not the programs!
: “LevelUp” was my fifteenth project. I have started almost ten years ago and travel along Europe with many different associations. Before starting the project I was thinking, I am old, I already know almost everything about YE and related activities. Moreover, last projects were not the best, I was not feeling the enthusiasm of the organizer, and I felt as not having an important role. But, but, luckily I have taken part of this project before starting my PhD.
I had the opportunity to organize my trip, having suggestions from them and feedback on any itinerary. I have obtained all the information needed much before the departure, except for the timetable, that was greatly custom made according to our need and “evolution”. I felt by my own but accompanied by them. in addition, they push us to know each other before the start: I mean, we have a Facebook group as in many other projects, but they ask us to present ourself. I was asked to do as one of the first, and I felt annoyed by that at the begin, who was going to do that? Nevertheless, Nina started, I followed, and in short time, I had a face and a description of many members, I get to know them before the actual meeting, amazing idea. I should be short, I cannot say every single thing that I appreciate, but I will focus on the most important. I was the Italian group leader, and for the first time, I was considered for making activities, reflection group etc, I had a responsibility more than collect the ticket. I had to give feedback every time that we had a meeting, it would be listened and they would have tried to fix it. I was finally, again, part of a big family. The organizer was between us for the bigger part of the project, without let us feel the distance, and, talking like a “facilitator”, I felt important but at the same level. Nobody had fear to tell what he had thought, that was great! I wanted to focus on that because it may be the best way to explain integration and respect in EU project: it “easy” to talk and play about that, but difficult to apply them for real and for the entire project! Thank you for giving me back the enthusiasm, I hope to participate again, maybe with you.Best from a Italy!
: My experience at LevelUp Erasmus+ Project: There is not a single bad word I can say about this projects, everything went beyond all expectations. The organizers were extremely friendly and approachable and made sure we were happy at all times: always listened to us and responded to our needs. They managed to put an amazing group of people together and gave us room to have fun and learn a great deal of new things for six days straight! Definitely a memorable experience that showed me how Erasmus should be done!
: ERASMUS+ programs, which I experienced 3 times, is something magical. The beginnings of each exchange are knocking louder and louder as the day of going to the project place comes. In front of you you see people of another nation, all with different destinies, left the routine in their native country, gathered for weekly adventures: some are more active, others need time to discover their courage, but at this junction they are the same newcomers as You! In the Youth Exchanges project, everyone will find a way to develop, to know others and to discover themselves through them. During teamwork, working skills are developed in every step that allows you to grow the desire to communicate, negotiate, lead, feel part of a group, something big and alive. Here, the organizers are also interested in you as an individual, what allows you to look at the project from the other way and lets you to understand yourself in it. After a long day of various activities, open, smiling and welcoming people are waiting to get to know you, and those with who you communicated during the day can show up as an unexpected companion in the evening. If I would brag about my experience – the youth exchange never leaves without increasing the number of friends. I am always looking forward to the trip days that sometimes are going hiking in the mountains, going to the sea or in the great cities of the country – it just shows the great Erasmus + desire to provide participants with the knowledge, social skills and expand their horizons and world outlook. Finally, ALL is funded by the European Union in the interest of education and the education of young people, which means that traveling, developing, learning and finding friends is completely free! It is important to keep in mind that the stones of your path depend on the way and how you put them. While raising your head, try to find yourself in the world and never forget that there are a lot of people around who are willing and able to help or encourage finding an association with themselves and the public, which is openly offered by all the ERASMUS + programs.
A big thank you to everyone who was part of LevelUp!