Programme & action: ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: Youth exchange
Venue: Žetale, Slovenia
Dates: 1-8 August 2016
Participants: Lenka Raymanová, Kristýna Kolínová, Miroslav Kovář, Nikola Greplová
Group leader: Michal Havelka
Please read the daily activities programme
Participating countries: Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Slovenia, Bulgaria
Hosting organisation: Turistično društvo Žetale
As soon as we crossed the borders, we learned two important facts about Slovenia: it’s tiny (around two millions of inhabitants) and it’s supergreen. In other words a perfect place to organise a Youth Exchange! The topic we were about to cover was freedom and where else but in a hilly region of Žetale could you feel more alive and free?
Once all the participants from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary and Slovenia arrived, the project as usual started with lots of hello-saying and occasional name reminders. Games and tasks in groups helped us in getting to know each other and bonding as a team. After the first two days we then felt a bit more comfortable to start the serious talks and thinking.
I personally liked this third day the most – we were asked to see the perspective of people from different social groups: first when given a role (mine was for example an unemployed single mother, other had businessmen, drug addicts or refugees…) and asked series of questions about our rights in society. Then we had a debate where we again had to become politicians/NGO workers/sociologists and tried to answer hard questions about European Union or global issues. All of this made us slowly consider what freedom means to us and the talks we had even outside official workshops stayed on my mind.
Here and there, we also got the creative juices flowing and expressed our views through art. Lots of time was as well spent in beautiful nature – hiking a mountain to see the Schengen border or exploring local sculpture park, we got to admire the beautiful landscape quite often. Evenings after every day were usually spent in relaxed gatherings where two selected nations shared their culture, food and drinks til early morning hours.
In the last days, the time had come for us to create something that would last and represent all we’d talked about. As the goal was to express ourselves through art, in the groups representing freedom, tolerance, love, peace and creativity, we painted five benches placed around local ecological path. That way each team creatively shared their topic with tourists and locals.
As it usually is, the time went very fast and soon the project came to an end. As a celebration we attended a concert of a local band and then said our ‘see you later’s by the fire, singing and talking. Next morning we then left with many nice memories, some new international friendships and hopefully some bits of learning about other cultures and perhaps ourselves.