Erasmus+ youth exchange in Busteni

Well it has been only a few weeks since I’ve got back from Erasmus+ training course and suddenly there’s new challenge in front of me : Youth exchange in Romania. I got the call from my organization, the Volunteers Centre Skopje that a team of young volunteers will take part in it. Because of my experience as a group leader in youth exchanges I gladly accepted and fulfilled the application. The venue was Busteni, small town of 10.000 populations proudly located in the Carpathian Mountains, at the height of 1.000 m. I actually have been there on another youth exchange in 2013, that’s how I know the place as good as my pocket: one of my favorite places I have visited and it would be a pleasure to visit it again.But what about my team members ? Will they justify the expectations and accept the challenge ? Of course they will-I noted with a smile. My organization always choose the right people, the best and the most motivated, they’ve never failed so I knew that there’s no need to be afraid.

On a calm afternoon we met in the center of the city for a coffee talk to make the logistic for the trip in Romania and to get to know each other. I met Simona and Aleksandra as well as Korab and Aleksandar, students, activists, volunteers, some from the capital and some from other cities of our country. And I already love these guys: motivated, positive attitude, well educated, languages and IT competences. Perfect-a team for success.

And the challenge is unemployment in EU countries, the different levels, the best practices and how to increase employability with working title: “Ready to learn, Steady to understand, Go for a job”.

OK, let’s learn and increase our competences, let’s trigger the entrepreneurial spirit to go for our dream jobs.


Our trip takes us east to Bulgaria and then north to Romania. A little bit longer but we had a lot of time to talk about us, the team work and team building strategies and of course, some tips and hints how to make the best of us. And we are there: Busteni, Romania. We met the Turkish team on the way but still anxious to meet the others: Lithuania, Spain, Latvia, Poland, Romaniaand Cyprus. My old friend Tolea of our partner organization Hair Redivivus is the facilitator. I am always glad to see him in action and his formula for success in implementation of such projects. He has a strong sense of team building strategy and always make strong emotional connection among the participants, that`s why the result is always there.

And yet we are starting the journey through different ice-breaking and name games, some team building to achieve common ground and more relaxed base for the main activities and workshops supposed to increase participants` competences. The group leaders meetings and coordination are essential for successful ongoing process. We discuss, split the responsibilities and share with our teams. Working in mixed groups and respecting the intercultural differences if well-coordinated produces the best results: brainstorming ideas and different attitudes brings out the best practice and innovative solutions for the same and common issues and that`s exactly what we do.

Many of the participants are beginners in Erasmus+ youth exchanges so the first intercultural evening produces a positive cultural shock due to the colorful variety of national flags, foods and beverages as well as different customs and traditional dances. Our partners from Lithuania made a presentation of our country as planned and we survived the most awesome presentation in my experience.

Next step is creation of CV and interview tips through group work and role play. Some of my team mates made distinguish efforts that I’m proud of. Creative thinking, deep insights and positive flow of energy. Another successful day.


Finally we formed the groups that will shoot videos and the group that will create a toolkit brochure. Before the final products are done we went on a cultural visit of the local castles, cities and most famous sights. Such a beauty we experienced with a little bit of architecture and history, group photos and time to get to know each other even more closely. We are connected with good memories, networking and informal socializing. And another successful and most inspiring workshop is to come: the Fish Market that made very strong impact on the participants. In the “Sea of ideas” we proposed projects on certain topics with location and countries participants included that could happen in near future. Some ideas were astonishing and very realistic to be implemented in real time.

The departure day is getting closer. There are mixed emotions, some tears, individual reflections of the project, a lot of hugs and plans to see each other again, keeping us updated through the social media. And the happiness of the most participants getting their first Youth pass certificates.Theyearned it with their engagement and competences that will bring back home.

Early morning and suitcases are all over the pension yard. Most of them are heavier than before carrying good memories written with invisible ink in our portfolio. Last check and then departure. I set my eyes on my teammates. They are as they should be: more confident, happy and satisfied and hearts full of emotions. And me…of course, I`m very happy and so proud.We are a team for success.

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Author: Goran Galabov

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