Programme: ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: youth exchange
Dates: 12—22 May 2022
Venue: Bajari, district Ropazu, Latvia
Please read the info-pack (you’ll also find the application form there)
Participating countries: Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Romania, Greece, Latvia, Spain
Hosting organisation: Mindful Journeys
Czech team: Jan Míka (GL), Linda Plaváková, Kristýna Kubičková, Matouš Pinc, Klára Šabaková, Zuzana Kuželková
Photo album from the project: here
We were promised a week of fun and adventure in the wild woods of Latvia, exploring and reconstructing our behavior patterns and coming to terms with the wholeness of who we are, all in the name of living more harmoniously with our fellow humans. Did the project meet our expectations? We met with all participants in Riga, from where we moved to a small, peaceful village called Bajari.
After spending the first day there, the Werewolves game began. The game master explained the complex rules of the game and each one of us received the information about whether we were a human or a werewolf, what role in society we would have during the game, as well as what would be our personal mission for the game’s duration.
We packed our things and started a journey to the forest where the game was to take place. We spent 4 nights in the forest in total. Initially, we built two “villages” with tarps, ropes and some natural materials.
We followed a complex set of rules defined by the game master. For example, every day, one person had to be exiled from each village and the werewolves were meant to “kill” someone. This was the main cause of dramatic events. In one of the villages, the werewolves and humans embraced their dark side completely and “murder” and treason were on the daily agenda. The other village, in contrast, lived quite peacefully and the
werewolves even made a pact with the humans to not kill anyone. Apart from playing our roles defined by the game, we were fighting with cold weather and rain on some days but also enjoyed days of sunshine, played more games, connected with nature, shared stories by the fire, enjoyed lovely meals cooked on fire and howled to the moon like real wolves. The role-playing was a lot of fun.
After we finished our adventure in the forest, we came back to Bajari. To integrate our experience from the game, we had an evening of intuitive dancing. Later, we visited two local schools in the nearby villages where we prepared a game on the topic of social exclusion for the students and we were surprised by how welcoming the students were and how much they enjoyed playing and talking with us.
We spent the last days in fresh air, connecting with each other, doing more mindful activities, and enjoying delicious homemade vegan food. (The meat-eaters enjoyed it as well!)
The whole project was very different from other projects we have experienced so far. Sleeping outdoors, disconnecting from technology, role-playing in the woods, experiencing first hand how social inclusion and social exclusion happens on different levels, and deepening our compassion and empathy for one another was really a special adventure.
We are very grateful to Mindful Journeys and EYCB for having this chance to visit Latvia, meet all the participants from various countries and enjoy the challenging but fun program!