There are a few moments when life gives us a chance to become better people. This youth exchange organized by CUTE that took place in Struga from the 6 th to the 15 th of July was one of those chances. What started as a project with usual workshops and a goal as many other became so much more with a different meaning for everyone from the participants and made an even greater impact. A lot of us came back home with the knowledge of how to be a “cute” person.
Youth exchanges are a completely new experience and for the happiness of this exchange where we attended we gained a lot of new knowledge. CUTE is a youth exchange where all participants participate in non-formal education, that is, during this project we have gained a lot new skills that you aren’t able to learn at school. For us, this period, mixed with young people from four different countries, was something that we will remember for a lifetime. This exchange we learned how to cooperate with each other through various workshops and active. Through teamwork, we learned to understand each other and to accept our differences. We have also gained the mutual tolerance needed to achieve our goals over time. Everything blended in together in order to learn how to do something for someone in the community. While working in Struga, there were moments when we needed to tolerate some of the participants because of their behavior. In that moment we knew that we had to find a way to understand them, people deep down make mistakes because of lack of knowledge. Such behavior was all they knew in that moment. Our group during those moments finally understood how to accept someone else’s imperfections. Those moments were also a part of the project, and we also had to understand when someone doesn’t want to do something. Just like in society, in reality, everyone has their own limitations.
“Empowering for me was one of the most interesting topics of CUTE. Not everyone in every moment are confident in themselves and in their capabilities. Most of the times that is the fear of the unknown, people don’t understand that in those times their fear is irrational and the goal, that they fear so much, will lead them to beautiful places. You have to motivate them with words or by your example – Be the change you with to see in the world – as Gandhi said”- says Sandra Filipova.
Helping, empowering someone means empowering ourselves at the same time so that we can become better version of ourselves day by day. “All in all, the project raised my confidence, I know now that I am better than what I thought I was, I learned how to cooperate with different people and how to tolerate participants in my group when they didn’t want to work” – says Sandra.
“Hiking in the village of Vevcani, made me realize how we are all connected. Not just with nature but what we feel towards ourselves, we feel towards others. I realized the importance of tolerating yourself when you are not doing your best, understanding your actions and your mistakes, cooperating to become a better person and last but not least empowering yourself, motivating yourself to keep going“ – says Elena Stojkovska.
During this project, at first, the energizers and team building seemed just like some games, many of us underestimated them, but as the days went by we all came to understand their importance. We had interesting workshops to strengthen our leadership capabilities and our organizational specifics. Every night we had small national activities through which we introduced other countries and their customs. We also went to Ohrid for a small excursion, which in my opinion was an important moment in our association with other countries. For two days we had mini-projects through which we but to contribute to the good of our society, in this case Struga. One of the hardest lessons we learned there was facing rejection. During one of the questionnaires we made on the streets of Struga about art, the hardest challenge was not giving up even when we were turned down not so politely at that. The same was for the other groups with their own mini projects for the environment and for the youth. Those moments we were faced with the harsh truth about people living in society and their lack of trust and interest in others and in the environment. It is true that we faced the harsh truth but it wasn’t in order for us to be disheartened, quite the opposite actually. Then and there we came to know what society was lacking and what to do when facing future challenges such as these and even bigger ones. We have taken up these challenges so that we can later improve our society even if that means just a smile – a happy person – we have achieved our goal. The way in which we achieved our goals, during the exchange, was quite interesting, starting from the first day we started with small exercises in order to get to know each other better and closer.
“This exchange helped me to grow as a person, to think outside of the box, to be creative and the most important to understand and tolerate the differences among people. It was a pleasure to be part of CUTE because we had a lot of cute, funny, interesting and productive moments” – said Eva Milenkova and we couldn’t agree more.
Pictures: Sandra Filipova