„When I first saw the opportunity to take part in Erasmus mobility “EmpowerEU: Shaping Youth Goals for a Stronger Europe“ in Kaunas in Lithuania, I didn’t hesitate a single moment. Not only have I never been in Lithuania before, but the whole topic seemed very interesting to me. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Since the project took place in Kaunas, I decided to spend two extra days in Vilnius to take all the possibilities Lithuania is offering. I was enchanted by the beauty of the old town where I stayed, as well as Užupis district, known for colorful street art and functional art projects. But nothing could prepare me for the project venue in Kaunas.
I’ve been to a few projects, but I’ve never lived above the church, along with nuns and priests, just a few steps away from the city castle. We held a lot of our activities at the grass field under the castle, catching the sunshine and enjoying the amazing surroundings while diving deeper into the course. We started the very first day with couple of introduction games and continued the second day, where we started discussion of the European Youth strategy and Youth goals. During the next few days we dived deeper into each one of the goals through various workshops and activities.
We created our own heroes representing the goals and held a mind-mapping session. As a Slovak team we even facilitated an activity focused on sharing our knowledge on 8 key lifelong learning competencies gained over the last days. It’s always a whole different experience while stepping out as a trainer for a moment and I truly found myself into this one, as we help the participants to better understand the competences and recap what they learned for each of them. One of the new and very fascinating activities for me was a Silent Discussion, where we wrote our opinions or questions on the given topic on one big poster and held votings, debates and shared our sometimes very various or controversial opinions quite anonymously. As we switched between the tables with posters, it was very interesting to follow the flow and evolution of each one of them as the discussions grew.
The most fun we probably had during the activity where we needed to create a podcast on a given topic. Our topic was „The challenges faced by rural youth“ and as a girl from a small village in the land of „nothing“, I had a lot to say. Our team found a nice sunny place near the castle where we sat on yoga mats and started the discussion so naturally, that someone just pressed „record“ and the whole podcast came out as the nicest debate among the couple of friends from different countries. We shared plenty of different ideas and opportunities and found weak spots in the system, where NGO’s can really come in handy.
Later on we jumped into speed dating activity, where we discussed various topics and situations about „Mental health and Wellbeing“ for 1 minute, each one with different participant. After getting through all of the Youth goals, sharing our countries realities, finding problems and offering possible solutions we once again gathered to create a strategy and toolkit for youth workers. Each group received a different youth goal and together we created a bunch of various and interesting tools, each one of them unique for a specific settlement. We had a leaflet, presentation, handbook or poster that can be used as instructions for any youth worker.
During the Intercultural night we taught other participants some traditional Slovak folk dances and learned a couple of others from Bulgaria, Turkey and Hungary. But one of the most spectacular moments outside of planned activities was the hymn singing, where participants, who were late to the activities, needed to sign their national anthem. We heard the anthems of Algeria, Turkey, Bangladesh and Lithuania. We also had a guided tour around the Kaunas, heard some legends and stories about various locations in the city, some of them from far far history, some of them connected with recent events.
In conclusion, I really found myself into this training course, as I gained more knowledge about the whole process of informal education, types of workshops and leadership. I also really enjoyed working with various tools for creating such as Canva or CapCut. This whole experience just reassured me that I want to continue my journey after school in informal education and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be reading such articles from participants on my project.“