Programme & action: ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: Training Course
Venue: Arrouquelas, Rio Maior, Portugal
Dates: 5 – 14 October 2017
Participants: Jan Fiala, Helena Kuthanová
Participating countries: Portugal, Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, Spain, Cyprus
Hosting organisation: H2O
Whole project took part in small city Rio Maior, cca 60 km from Lisboan between 5. – 14. 10. 2017. In total, 12 countries took part in this project (Portugal, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Spain, Estonia, Georgie, Armenia, France, Albania, Israel, Turkey, and Poland).
Project was organized by youth organization H2O and I simply can’t find the right words to describe all their effort and creativity put into this 9-day-project.
Firstly, they cared about everything right from the beginning starting with facebook group, sharing the program, contacts, warm welcoming. All participants were picked up at the airport and transported to the place of happening. Hostel was very nice, comfortable and only for us, a park just in front of it. Every day was precisely planned and filled by rich program (sessions, discussions, presentations, team work, role plays, and games) with many breaks to relax, absorb information. Furthermore, we had three trips! One in Arrouquelas (small, cozy and typical Portuguese village in countryside), second in Salinas (salt fields) and the last – whole-day-spent in Lisboa!
Regarding food, we could not wish any better meals and service. When we were in Rio Maior, lunches were in style of Swedish tables – all you can eat, as much as you are able to eat! Plenty types of meat, sea food, vegetables, fruits, side dishes, drinks, sweet things. Dinners were in high-standard restaurant (appetizer, main dish, desert, drinks).
As a next point to mention, and it actually made whole project amazing, was the trainer/instructor. Highly-experienced guy from Georgia. The best trainer I have met. He held a logical flow of activities during whole project. We played many get-to-know-each-other and icebreaking games at the beginning, so the friendly atmosphere and trust was created. Then started with topics, discussions, team work, and role plays. What we all loved, were his energizers and games!! He had so many of them. Also worth mentioning, that I liked his methodology of carrying out the activities and discussions. Really creative and focused on building friendships, sharing ideas and approaches, coming up with possible solutions, getting deeper into topics. In hindsight I really admire him. We were not aware of it and took it for granted and just followed the activities. But now I can see his abilities, effort and skills. There was always something to do, all the activities had logical flow, meaningful purpose and all sessions, role plays, and discussions were connected with each other and were necessary to be completed in order to get further in our projects. Not often are all sessions enjoyable and funny (for sure), but Giorgi found the way how to entertain us and make fun of seemingly boring presentations by showing real examples or connect the topic with current issue/news. You know, he could prepare the same methodology and similar activities for every day, just changing the topic or issue being discussed. But no! We had original methods, activities and sessions every day and this made every single day special, not boring and made us to look forward to every day.
As for the location, Rio Maior is very cozy place and we all fell in love with this place. It was super-hot those days. Even Portuguese guys said it is not common. It was constantly around 30 degrees. Hostel was cool, with terrace, so we were having a good time every single night. There was a park right in front of our hostel, so we were relaxing and chilling after lunch (2hours break), just lying on the grass, listening to the music.
Concerning the project itself, we got deeper insight into the youth and social empowerment. We discovered ongoing problems among youngsters in different countries by having discussions and sessions and tried to identify the key factors. But the most importantly, we eventually came up with possible solutions. We spent last three days by working on those issues. We worked in small groups, when every group dealt with different problem (sexual harassment, youth unemployment, lack of motivation, low salaries, social problems, bullying etc.). Special methodology was used for these projects. Firstly, every group identified their problem, its reasons (roots) and results that occur in society of nowadays. Afterwards came certain solutions, discussions, justifying our approaches. Finally, we had to set up a budget, time schedule, responsibilities and to present the whole project to the audience. All questions from instructor and audience were answered at the end and final evaluation could be done.
In conclusion, this event was much more than just a project. The organization took care about every single detail. All the things during the project were well-planned and connected. There was nothing missing. Accommodation with food was amazing, every day rich program. We were not just following the program and carry out the activities, but actively contributed, enjoyed and strengthened our skills and abilities to promote better social empowerment among youngsters in our countries. Many vital ideas were presented and I´m convinced this project brought new spirit to ourselves and made us to deal with current issues that have been discussed. Besides working on projects and sharing our approaches to the topic, we had much fun thanks to three trips and plenty of time being spent with all together during the whole project. Jan Fiala