Dates: 16.4 – 22.5. 2021
Venue: Rabka-Zdrój, Polsko
Programme and action: European Solidarity Corps, volunteering projects – short-term
Hosting organization: Europe4Youth
Volunteers: Martin Žaba, Aneta Kiššová
It is really hard to summarize my 6-week experience in a small article. Anyway, I will try my best to point out the most important things. This project was about organizing 1 week youth festival in a small town called Rabka in Poland. We were 30 volunteers (Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, France, Greece, Poland) and for most of us, this was our first experience with organizing an event. It was a really hard task because we encountered a lot of obstacles – the first year of Rabka youth festival, covid regulations and bad weather.
The first week of the project looked more like training. We had activities about getting to know each other, non-formal education, and discovering our skills and how can each of us contribute in our own way. We also did a small brainstorming for the activities of the festival. We managed to do workshops (half of them were done by us) about the topics which could be useful for the preparation of festival activities. For example how to organize an event, record a podcast, do a live stream, etc.
For the next weeks, we created working groups for the festival events and every volunteer had to work on 2 different projects. Those weeks were dedicated to preparing everything and we also had free days in between and time for chilling with the others. In our free time, we were mostly playing board games or just simply chatting and trying to hear other’s life stories.
What I consider really nice, was our cooperation with the locals. We had there polish volunteers who showed us the area and tips for spending time in Rabka. We also made one photo shooting session with the locals, who are organizing a small old fashion festival in Rabka about the time in 1920. They invited us for professional photo shooting with the costumes from 1920. Later they invited us for a coffee and we spend there a whole evening just chatting with them.
The last week of the project was about the festival. We didn’t have many participants for our events but it just wasn’t our fault. The whole week was raining except for 2 days and I can understand people really don’t want to participate in some events held outside when it’s raining. Another obstacle was that kids started to go to school again after some months so they told us they are under a lot of pressure suddenly and simply don’t feel like participating in our festival because of it. Anyway, in the end, I consider this festival a great success. During the week we realized youngsters really know that this festival is being held there so for the next year we already have a base of youngsters interested in our festival and knowing about it.
We prepared really amazing events for them. One group created their own educational escape room and the other prepared an online escape room. Some people prepared treasure hunt in the city park, job fair, entrepreneurship workshop, game about feminism and breaking the stereotypes, hiking with the purpose of getting to know new people, series of podcasts, upcycling workshop, and many more. We had a really rich variety of events.
We also felt like we really made an impact on the Rabka city. The last event of the festival was a debate with the mayor and local decision-making authorities with youth. We made research with youngsters before and got almost 100 filled questionnaires about the topic what they miss in their city. We used those answers in our final debate with the mayor and signed a symbolic contract to get some real promise. Our best achievement is their promise to establish a youth center in Rabka. Even though we had a lot of obstacles with organizing our festival I think we did a really good job and everyone is satisfied. In the end, it’s not only about creating the festival but also about ourselves learning how to do it. Even when none of the participants appeared for some activities, we learned how to work in a team and prepare it from the scratch with the supervision of facilitators.
That’s why I would like to thank the organizers to give us this opportunity and help us with everything.