While I am writing this article I still find it hard to settle down and organize in my head all of the impressions, information and the fond memories that I have from the Study Visit in Antwerp – Belgium that was implemented within the Erasmus+ project Neighborhood of Youth Centers in Europe. During these 7 days, we had the amazing opportunity to meet new people that were part of the project, coming from different countries across Europe and representing their Organizations/Youth Centers, and also to get to know the work that they are doing in their communities, especially with young people. Furthermore, during our stay in Antwerp, we had this unique chance of visiting several Youth Centers and Youth Houses across the city, which for me was an overwhelmingly impressive experience. The youth workers, the staff and the volunteers were welcoming us in the most positive manner and each of them had presentations on their work, the projects, their goals, mission, the establishment and the history, and everything else that we wanted to know regarding their Youth Centers. Throughout the visits that we had each day, we were also able to meet representatives and policymakers from local government institutions and the Federation of Youth Centers in Flanders, which explained to us more on the process of decision making, the structure of the network and the budget destined for the youth work of the city in general.
Bisera Sazdovska, who took part in the project confirm how important was this visit for her.
“The study visit was a great importance to me because it helped me confirm my visions and ideas that I had, as well as to enhance my experiences from the youth centers that we visited. In one place I made new friends, got new ideas and wonderful memories and at the same time I saw many activities, an inspiring urge followed by love and energy to find creativity, to support and to get the best out of everybody, yet to maintain individuality. Through the study visit we had the opportunity to speak with the people who are directly involved in supporting the youth centers as well as with representatives from the youth clubs. The close communications gave me an idea of how well cooperation between the government, NGOs and youth can work. I would be pleased if we could make that interactive communication between the institutions and the NGOs happen here and give our youth, places where they can grow.’” says Sazdovska as a representative of Kisela Voda municipality House of culture.
Nikola Stankoski, the director of Volunteers Centre Skopje is saying that Macedonian team had a chance to see the infrastructure and the support that NGO-s in youth centers received from the local municipality and government in Belgium.
“The meetings we have with the higher representative of Unit for youth in the City of Antwerp give us opportunity more easy to implemented good practices to our community. For that reason, in this project was also included a represent of the Municipality of Kisela Voda in Skopje, according to mutual plan to created standards and procedure for preparing similar center in our neighborhood. This kind of a center is also a responsibility according to the low for Youth that was accepted in the Macedonian Assembly were VCS was part of the working groups.
Except this, our visit to Belgium was a chance to see also how the countries in region (Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, BiH and Germany) goes forward in the fields of youth exchanges and youth centers. Most of those countries exciting in the same conditions as we in Macedonia, but they are in front of us speaking of conditions for youth workers”, said Stankoski.
He is remaining that in the end of the May, Skopje will be the host of the third part of the project.
“We expecting a high visitors from the Municipality of Antwerp and Bremen, Germany, so as representatives from their youth centers. That will be a opportunity to represent to them how things are going in our country and how the good practices can be implemented in Macedonia”, says Stankoski.
I would like to thank the organizers of the, Study Visit , ART of the Box, for making it possible to have this wonderful experience, during which we learned a lot and now it’s up to us to bring back home the best practices from there and try to implement them in our communities.