Programme & action: Youth in Action programme, action 3.1.1. youth exchange
Venue: Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia
Dates: 1-9 March 2014
Participants: Jakub Bakule, Lukáš Dumský, Lucie Seifertová
It is not easy to evaluate Youth in Action project “My decision, Europe is on” in Serbian town Vrnjacka Banja. This is given by fact that the project was practically nonexistent. The only job which our three organizers did, was basically booking of a hotel plus one time dinner in a restaurant.
At the beginning we were split into five groups and every group had a general topic connected with youth activism. Neither until the end of project no one had ever consulted preparation of sessions with groups nor were the organizers even present during sessions. Reflection groups (groups which are supposed to give feedback during project) worked only on first day. The fact (which I have found somehow fun and sad at the same time) which documents the attitude of organizers most is the “secret friend” game. At the beginning of the project I suggested to organizers that it might be good idea to play “secret friend” game where everyone randomly picks a name a then during the whole project you are suppose to send letters, sweets etc. to you friend’s envelope or do another random acts of friendship.
One of the organizers agreed to be involved in a game as well but until the end of project she had never sent nor did anything for her secret friend. I also consider this game to be kind of test of how good is project working in terms of getting people know each other. At the end of the whole project the majority of participants still did not know everyone’s name by heart and a half of the envelopes remained empty. I do not blame the participants as, judging by my personal opinion, they were quite friendly and open minded. It is just that without regular sessions (which were canceled all the time) and especially a bunch of icebreakers it will always be this way. The hotels personal also told us that this particular group of organizers had a project finishing two days before ours and it was made the same way (there should be another organizer who is doing an amazing projects at the same place just by herself). The idea of greater freedom given to participants in creation of project is fine, however if the organizers just vanish during this process the result is just terrible. The final event and evaluation were also missing plus nobody has told us so far whether we are going to get youth passes or not. Great many of participants left a day earlier as we had no job (sessions) even day before.
To sum it up Vrnjacka is spa center of Serbia and the food was all right (I should mention that typical breakfast menu was: tea, coffee, milk, water, vodka and slivovitz standing on next to each other on a table :). Hotel was quite old, but it actually never matters. Majority of participants was as usually amazing and that is the only reason why I can not call the whole project a disaster and a waste of time. That is why these projects are worth it. But the only good stuff happening there was due the effort of participants and not organizers. I am going to write a letter to Serbian national agency or maybe even to someone on higher ranks, as obviously the control of these specific group of organizers is bullshit as they had more than thirty other projects which, I believe, were just made to suck out money from EU commision.