Lend me a hand – Youth exchange

Multilateral Youth Exchange

“Lend me a hand” 2009

Strumicia, Macedonia

Partner Organisations: Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Albania, Italy and Bosnia

BACKGROUND

The Youth in Action Programme is to encourage young people to reflect on European Topics including European Citizenship (EU) and to involve them in the discussion on the construction and future of the European Union. On this basis, projects have a strong European dimension and stimulate reflection upon the emerging European society and its values.

Participation of young people is a main priority of the YiAP, particularly the participation of young people in democratic life. The overall objective for participation is to encourage young people to be active citizens. The objective has three dimensions laid down in council resolution on the common objectives for participation by and information for young people: Participation in the system of representative democracy, participation in the civic life of their community, and greater support for various forms of learning to participate.

The “Lend me a hand” project, Youth in Action Programme 2009 hosted a multilateral Youth Exchange which commenced on October10th-18th at the Hotel Ilinden in Strumica, Macedonia.

It brought together countries from South East Europe:  Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Italy, Lithuania and Poland. Italy, Macedonia and Albania had previously worked together to engage in a previous Youth Exchange to Vinica, Macedonia.

The “Lend me a hand” Youth Exchange was to develop the young people’s skills and ideas in discrimination fighting and to engage in democratic decision making processes by sharing their ideas and knowledge within groups to build on the previous exchanges between the Italy, Macedonia and Albania.

The objectives of the Exchange were as follows:

*Recognise the role of individuals in dealing with discrimination;

*Develop an understanding that solutions to discrimination need to go beyond individual acts to address a bigger, local, change;

*Provide opportunities for participants to make meaningful, positive actions to combat discrimination;

*Involve participants in practical activities and workshops devoted to dealing with discrimination that can be used by them in the future;

*Helping participants to understand the basics of discrimination and methods of dealing with it;

*Encouraging participants to react to acts of discrimination, work actively on fighting with it.

In addition to this the project objectives were to promote young people’s active citizenship in general by developing their European Awareness, to promote Cultural diversity between countries, and to share in inter-religious dialogue, youth participation and development of youth policies.

Bosnia, Macedonia and Albania are situated in South Eastern Europe and have restricted border control where visa is required to access all European Countries. Such restrictions and cost implications mean that many of these young people rarely have the opportunity to meet, work and share experiences with their peers from other European countries and share cultural experiences.

The opportunity to bring the countries together to share life experiences aimed to strengthen each individual’s participation in democratic citizenship enabling them to develop skills and knowledge in representing their groups at a local and national level.

PROGRAMME ACTIVITIES

An overall total of 29 young people including group leaders engaged in educational project opportunities throughout the duration of the week. Icebreakers and energisers were used to sustain the building of relationships and group dynamics throughout the session workshops. Team Building activities in bridge building, and problem solving enabled individuals to share and generate ideas in preparation for the project development workshops. Through group activities participants will increase interest, awareness and knowledge about diversity in everyday life and the processes behind exclusion and discrimination. The participants worked to combat different kinds of discrimination in working life, specifically in relation to discrimination due to gender, ethnicity, age, mental and physical disability and sexuality. Participants were divided into three groups: journalism, photography and video. After brief introductions from experienced group leaders on the main features of each section (rules for journalism, for photography, for recording videos semi-professionally) participants started working on materials that were strictly connected with impacting the local community.  It was the local community where participants gathered necessary information for the journalism section; photos for the photography section; and views and events to record for the video section.  Participants had visited the Institute for people with physical handicap where they initiated and presented their joint work ,spending with them a whole afternoon.

CITIZENSHIP

The activities undertaken were chosen to develop the young people’s skill base. Skills empower individuals; the development of their citizenship skills develops self confidence and knowledge to individuals to play an active role in politics, society, the workplace and their communities.

Cognitive skill development enabled individuals to identify, describe, organise, interpret, explain, and evaluate information and ideas in order to make sense of their experiences and to make decisions about them.

The groups learnt about the discrimination of their different countries constitution by performances that they have prepared during the workshops. Participants had the opportunity to participate on the exhibition and the promotion of the artiustic works of one of the users of the Institute for people with physical handicap.  All events were publicised on National Television and in the local TV. The young people had the opportunity to be interviewed by the media.

The workshops taught that by teaching democracy comparatively, an understanding was developed of the common or generic political and civic choices confronted by people across the cultures and civilizations of our world.

INTERNATIONAL PRESENTATION EVENINGS

Each participating country held an International evening presentation to share culture, music, food customs and traditions with the other participants. This was an ideal opportunity to appreciate cultural differences.

The International evening presentations portrayed a historical chronicle to each countries growth and development in tourism and local economy growth, particularly those previously affected by civil unrest that had affected employment and led to a decline in consumer services. A wider understanding between the participants was developed, in context to the different countries circumstances. Presentations portrayed the historical nature that brought about political unrest and the current economic, social and political developments within their countries brought about by new democratic processes that were being implemented to improve human rights.

Traditional music was shared between groups, dance displays were given, National Anthems recited and traditional foods and drinks sampled. All of the countries shared and gave reasons why their countries were a good place to reside in.

EXCURSIONS

An excursion to Monasteries in the villages Veljusa and Vodocha was arranged.

Some ten kilometres to the northwest of the city of Strumica, is a monastery complex situated on a rocky plateau above Veljusa and the Strumica Valley.

EVALUATION

The formation of relationships, between the participants of the l Youth exchange has continued via social interaction on social networking sites between participant’s .Many have regular contact with their foreign peers via Facebook and home communications. The sharing of good practice, projects and policies will continue between all of the participating countries Youth Leaders to develop an International awareness of Youth Work and its delivery.

The young people shared their life experiences, skills and knowledge throughout the duration of the exchange. Their evaluation of the exchange was positive with all highlighting the need for further intervention and change to promote European Citizenship. The participating countries have used transferable skills to share their experiences with their communities.

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