The title you see above comes in as a replacement for “The 7 Things You Need To Know Before Applying to Erasmus+ Youth Exchange”.

I believe the current title suits better just because of the fact that just recently we’ve been through a project where all segments of the Youth Exchange were balanced in a strong bond. Instead of many projects where we seem to be WOW-ed from one thing while something else is not working in the background.  “Let’s embrace multiculturalism!” took place in the municipality of Villalbilla in the Municipal Sports Complex, from October 9 to 17, 2018 funded by Erasmus+. 35 youngsters between 18 and 25 years committed to European values, coming from 7 different countries had the chance to explore together topics such European citizenship, stereotypes and prejudices, intercultural manners and to observe those differences as a positive factor added to the current society that enriches us globally. “Go Green” as a partner organization sent Angela, Marija, Valerija, Stefani and myself (Aleksandra) to join the project.

I will be sharing few points from this smooth journey from a standpoint of participant but a co-trainer as well. Now, few weeks after the project, he overall impressions are about to sink in and now comes the time for self-reflection.

The Venue

When you type in “Vilabilla” in Google it says a “small village in Spain” and all you see are images of great green terrains, blue skies and tiny little houses. When we arrived it was pretty much the same impression. But wait until we went on a treasure hunt in the village and got to actually meet the locals, listen to their stories and dive into the history and infrastructure of the village. The librarian, the driving teacher and the barber were my favourite people.

During the project we had access to several county facilities, the Municipal Sports Complex, the day centre, the Sports Hall unlike projects where you get stuck in one room for days. Different venues set different moods across the group of 35+ young people. I hope some other time I will have the opportunity to go back to the Church yard, up high on the hill and take another look over the village of Villabilla.

The Program

Lot’s of versatile activities that were triggering higher expectations from the participants. You name it, the team of trainers had planned for it. For me personally was quite interesting to go through activities that were not so new to me but had a certain twist in the concept in this project. Such as the Telenovela Story or the Imaginary Participant game. However one of the “booms” in the program was the Deep Breathing line of sessions. Overall the program offered various frameworks for communication among the group, within or outside of the agenda, such as intercultural evenings with cooking meals for everybody (and the clean-up crew respectively) reflection sessions etc. To me personally the highlight were the News groups where each of the groups had to present the experience during the day in a certain media format, such as opera, TV commercial or using specific lines, like “green frog” for instance 🙂

The Trainers

Feels good when you have a tailor-made team of trainers that has been formed throughout the years. Truly devoted and passionate people, all of them pretty different in their opinions but they join when it comes to their values – Believe in european youth and help them grow their capacities and open their minds by breaking barriers. Well supported by the logistics team the trainers were responsible for both carrying out the activities but also making sure the tonus of the group was on the needed level. All of them were participating in each other’s activities (which I am afraid is not a very common case, at least from my point of view) and also complementing some areas once help or more experience was needed. There were one or two more complex situations that emerged during the project and it was a great learning point for me to actually witness their methods of support and collaboration.  

The Participants

35 youngsters coming from 7 countries Slovenia, Portugal, Latvia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, and Spain took part in this project, all of them gifted dancers and singers, polyglots, found their way in kitchen etc. Through exploring stereotypes related to our nationalities we were able to sharpen our senses and see the differences as an asset.

The Food

(Went exercising because my old jeans won’t fit after the project…)

The Fun (OMG the fun)

Here comes the best part. Every year the creation of a Lipdub is the trademark of this project. The last few days of the youth exchange the group of participants goes through very creative and interesting process of repetitions for the lipdub – a one take video that includes lip-singing, acting and dancing to a song that the group of 35 youngsters had mutually agreed on. And it feels great when right before the sun set down the final take was done and the shooting of the lipdub was finished. It was quite fun to see the group go through all the group stages – from forming, then storming, then norming and performing of course. Take a look at the LipDub here:

The Project

“Let’s embrace multiculturalism!” was a project to remember!

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