From 2th to 10th June, 2017, 34 young people from 7 different countries came to Polish town Zakopane to take part the youth exchange named Global Intercultural Warming against Youth Radicalization in order to be involved in Intercultural dialogue and in an inspiring way learn about problems of today – racism, migration, xenophobia and refugees crisis. Coming to the youth exchange, I had a question in my mind whereas the project may really evolve young people. After 8 inspiring days, I could write a chapter longer than Otto’s encyclopedia about what happened.
Tatry is trust, trust are participants, participants are inspiration, inspiration are facilitators, facilitators are Charlotte and Daria, everything is well of ideas. This equation may characterize the project Global Intercultural Warming against Youth Radicalization which took place in a town under mountains in Zakopane. A lot of things happened and still, the whole 8 days may be characterized by one adjective – fruitful. Being part of it, I may undoubtedly prove how the idea of ERASMUS+ and people working on it did a great job and for participants prepared 8 unforgettable days.
Everything starts on 2nd June. In a hurry, I pack all my things (unfortunately half of them forget at home) and with the Czech team we are on the way to Krakow. After a few hours sitting in a bus and practicing polish language, the town of Zakopane welcomes us. It is a sunny day, rocky mountains around us are reaching the sky and I cannot wait to meet all the participants. When I meet with the first girls from Italy and Estonian guys appear in our room, all the doubts I was bringing with me are suddenly gone. And the first ice-breaker is here. This is an activity when we meet each other and form the team, team characterized by collaboration, support and great organization.
The second day starts with games when we get to know each other, energizers to make us fresh and also activities to make us familiar with our main theme of the project – refugees and global problem of migration. Boring presentations, formal learning, conference talking and nobody getting to word. Nothing like that. Each activity is delivered by non-formal learning methods and besides getting engaged with the topics in a nonviolent way, we develop competencies that ERASMUS+ program applies to. Especially multicultural understanding and communication in a foreign language are important sights for me. That is when you are asked to perform tasks in international groups, using only English language, brainstorm with the team and come up with outputs. We think about a theatre play and then perform it, or the next moment we share among us cultural differences in our countries.
What I liked about the exchange is that everybody had enough space to express own ideas. Our training room is divided into two parts. One is telling disagree, the second one remains agree and after hearing the sentence we move between two lines according to our own consideration. Or the Iceberg, another activity in which we are actively involved, putting cards on the flipchart. Having experienced all of it, I have to confirm that our program put theory into practice, allowed participants not to be only observers but active thinkers who shape the project from beginning to end.
There was a lot of learning in eight days, learning happening on unconscious level, delivered by interesting activities. For a while, I change my role and become Bradd Peter. Main actor of the low-budget movie called PasToday. The movie is about refugees, which was our main theme. Writing about this problem, we didn´t come up with any innovative solution to deal with nowadays crisis, but learnt a lot. For me, the project was the moment when I made my own opinion on the subject and realized the complexity of the issue.
„In union there is strength.“
Projects on which we worked were diverse but connected by the word „together“. On each activity we worked as a team. Organizers put a lot of emphasis on team-work and the participants did the same. We respected each other, cooperated on little pieces and created positive atmosphere. Somebody was slower in English but it was not any problem. We wanted everyone to express own thoughts and make them realize.
The day, when we are supposed to go to streets and ask people on their opinion about refugees, comes on Monday. We have a city game in the city center of Zakopane and make videos with people we ask. I am surprised how well it goes and how funny the activity is.
The amazing atmosphere was highlighted by trip to the Morskie Oko, he biggest mountain lake in Tatra mountains. Our cameras are crazily clicking all the time, foots getting tired and eyes amazed by spectacular view on high mountains and pure wild rivers.
Projects, like this one, are also about enjoying fun and participation. On one evening, I put on socks and sandals and with the Czech team we present our country to others in a funny way, taste national gastronomy and move in the rhythm of music. The last night we are all together is Polish, Portuguese and Italian night and our house is rocked!! Camp fire, sausages and delicious Italian Tiramisu make the atmosphere even more relaxed.
To sum up the youth exchange and answer the first question, participants and organizers confirm that European projects like our one evolves young people and make ideas happen. Within 8 days I realized a lot of things, learnt activities I will definitely use at school or improved my presentation skills. But, what deserve the most are new people. Valentina, Debora, Roxana, Gaja, Piotr and all the others. Without these people, the project would be like any other day at school. People made things happened, things that will haul in Zakopane for centuries and maybe inspire somebody to even organize project like Global Intercultural Warming against Youth Radicalization.