Date: 2-10 March 2013
Venue: Struga, Macedonia
Pax: Šárka Martínková, Lenka Bernátová
Programme and action: Youth in Action programme, action 3.1. training course
Do it yourself! This popular and trendy claim of today perfectly expresses the main idea of the Change Laboratory: Second floor project. We spent ten days in Struga, Macedonia brainstorming how we can solve the social problems and challenges in our communities and also how to go through an uneasy period of young people`s lives – beginning of a professional career. It was a way of “social entrepreneurship”.
Twenty-eight youngsters from fourteen different countries, with different experience and backgrounds, this was a great mix that created an awesome drive that we kept from the beginning till the end of the training course. During the sessions we started with identifying the problem or – how we decided to call it – challenge. We were thinking what we like and dislike in our towns, cities and countries. For someone it was a lack of cultural opportunities in a small town, someone else wasn`t happy about the cars parking on the places where the pedestrians should walk, another team wanted to solve a problem of youth unemployment. The link was one: social entrepreneurship. No matter what the problem was, the next step was to find a way how to change it using entrepreneurial principles.
To learn what the entrepreneurial principles are, we met entrepreneurs from Macedonia and discussed the successful projects and people from our own countries who managed to connect two spheres that are so distant on the first glance, business and NGOs. We were motivated by the examples and tried to design our own ways. The next days we were working on our own business plans. Using different methods of idea generating and brainstorming made us to be more and more excited about our projects. How can we move from a paper Business Plan Canvas to the real world?
Group dynamics are definitely an important part of non-formal education. Change Laboratory offered us really colorful group of people coming from all the Balcan countries, Baltic, Central and Eastern Europe and Caucasus. Sometimes the drive of the group was so high that it lasted until late night hours and the trainers had some difficulties to collect all the participants in the seminar room in the morning. Also the beautiful surroundings of lake Ohrid were tempting us to run out and use the first glimpses of spring. But most of us already saw their social enterprise becoming real, so they tried to elaborate every possible aspect and benefit from the critical comments of the rest of the group.
The First floor of Change Laboratory took place in Struga about one year ago. In this time, some of its participants are running their social businesses. What will the organizers say to the Third Floor participants? I believe they will have even more examples of young people who believed there was something that could make their communities to be better and who made it themselves!