So it is 2019. New Year, new projects, and I am sure there will be plenty of those, but for now, I want to go back a little bit, to the end of November 2018, when we had a seminar “Volunteering: Step Forward to Entrepreneurship and Employability”. If you heard anything about it, that means we did a pretty good job, and if you haven’t, let me tell you about it.
This was a second part of the project that was about EVS volunteers, entrepreneurship and employability. All combined it was supposed to increase the capacities of organizations that host international volunteers by developing the skills of coordinators, youth workers, tutors of those organizations.
For me it was not just another Erasmus+ project. It was a bit different, different perspective for me. See, I was a trainer on this training, so I can say again, that it was my first project. I know how everything goes when you are the participant: people, cultures, discussions, late evening. Nothing of that was missing, I just had more responsibilities and were a bit more busy. I’ve been related and connected to NGO field for a while, as well as preparing and leading workshops, but this was a new role for me.
This project started in Poland with more than 20 people from 12 countries (Poland, Macedonia, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Turkey and Germany) and continued in Struga, Macedonia. We welcomed some new participants to the project on the second activity, but most of the people were the same, which made us really happy, because we already knew the group and it is always better to continue the work with the same participants.
Me and my co-trainer were trying to adapt and make mobility better than the first TC in Poland, so we were making adjustments and I think in the end we had pretty good seminar. We wanted to make it as interactive and lively as possible. We were inviting people with long experience in the field to share their stories and advice’s, “Living Library” was an excellent tool for that.
I remember, as a participant, that I never really paid too much attention to those fears and expectations activities, but now I see it differently. It was important for me to know what participants are expecting, what can be done for the fears not to come true, for them to realize their expectations and to contribute to the project, feel bigger part of it. That helped me understand them better, as individuals and as a group.
I am new in this youth work and training thing, so I am so excited and eager to learn more, to share what I know with other people and spread the word as far as it can get. Both me and my colleague on the training were sharing our experiences in EVS, mentoring, entrepreneurship, using all sorts of methods, like study cases, TrainVol online course, Magic castle, Silent discussion among the others, we talked about European Solidarity Corps and Youth banks and its possibilities. The research for this seminar itself gave me pleasure, looking for new tools, games for the project, let alone the work and discussions with participants, which was priceless. I’ve learnt a lot from them, from their experience, methods of work, new programs, possibilities, everyone has their own skill set that can be used to help out on the project. I hope they learnt something from us too.
What was also really new was the feedback from participants. We wanted that, we asked for it and gave the ways for participants to express themselves. We used “Thermometers” for each day to evaluate the mood and energy of people, on the last day we asked participants to compare the training course in Poland and seminar in Macedonia using two aligning columns (a lot of space for them to put everything they want), we also had two separate ships: positive one and negative one. The ships were sailing on the last evening and participants wrote what they thought about the project and us as trainers as well as on online Evaluation. So we got a looooooot of feedback, which is great, because that is how we can grow and be more prepared for the next project that comes along.
The project doesn’t end for the trainers after those 7 days of work and fun. Later on we actually had to go through feedback we got, work on dissemination and reports, which usually is not so pleasant, but it is important. Those people that come to the training usually think that Erasmus+ is a common thing, because they went to plenty or at least some, it is all around, so everybody knows about it. But it is not like that. Even on this training there were 3 girls that never before had and experience on Erasmus+ project and I think it is necessary to inform others. So I saw this new side of the youth projects and I am really enthusiastic about it, let’s see what 2019 will bring us!