Many times we have a chance to hear how world became a ‘global village’ as a result of exponential growth in technological connection. That global network made us all more interconnected, especially young people who spend significant time of the day on social media and internet in general. In such context, young people need knowledge about other cultures, active and empathetic communication skills and proactivity in understanding and respecting cultural differences and similarities. With that in mind, „Confluence of Cultures“ project was created.
Youth exchange “Confluence of Cultures” is a seven-month long Erasmus+ mobility project, which has the main aim of raising young people’s awareness of cultural diversity in European context. Youth we are working with expressed interest to learn more about other cultures, but through ‘face-to-face’ communication (not virtual) with other peers from European countries. As a result of communication with our partner organizations, we agreed that youth we are working with shares the same needs and we decided to work on this proposal – and create a project that will provide young people with opportunity to empower their cultural awareness and creative expression through non-formal education methods which will give them valuable experience of group work, understanding various aspects of culture, respecting differences and similarities, event planning, etc.
In order to achieve the project’s aim, we decided to set the following objectives:
1) creating safe, creative and stimulating environment for learning and experience sharing for 24 youngsters and 6 group leaders from Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Turkey
2) getting to know cultural aspects of participants coming from 6 European countries and developing open dialogue between participants through non-formal education activities
3) increasing awareness of cultural differences in Europe as part of tolerance building promotion and fighting against youth violent radicalization
4) empowering youth from 6 partner organizations for active involvement in local community and wider multicultural context
5) informing young people and local people about Erasmus+ mobility opportunities;
This project is implemented by 6 partner organizations: Udruga za promicanje pozitivne afirmacije mladih u društvu “Impress” Daruvar (Croatia), Agenzia di Promozione Integrata per i Cittadini in Europa (Italy), Maltos ordino pagalbos tarnyba (Lithuania), Spółdzielnia Socjalna Pracownia (Poland), ASK Yourself (Romania) and Belen Kaymakamlığı (Turkey). Each partner organization will be represented by 5 participants (4 young people aged 18-25 and 1 group leader over 18 years of age). Participants will be motivated young people eager to be a part of this multicultural youth exchange, willing to learn, share and contribute during all stages of the project. The youth exchange activity will take place in ŠRC Kukavica (Velika Pisanica, Croatia) in the period of 5th-14th July 2018 (including travel days). Participants will take part in non-formal education workshops that will help them learn more about culture in general, cultural differences, importance of tolerance and how to promote it in multicultural contexts. Some of the activities from the schedule include: getting to know each other and group building activities; getting familiar with Erasmus+ programme, Youthpass and 8 keycompetences; cultural simulation activity; practicing traditional dances from 6 countries;singing together; creating promotional material; storytelling; video postcards creation;traditional arts & crafts creation; preparing and holding a final event; intercultural nights;reflection groups… Participants will take active part in their learning process through all phases of the project and they will develop themselves both in personal and professional life.
With this project we aim to achieve a multiplier effect and sustainable impact. The envisioned results, impact and benefits of “Confluence of Cultures” include: organizing public event, improvement of participants English language skills, more open and tolerant dialogue among young people from different cultural backgrounds, creation of project video and leaflet, presentations and workshops in each of six participating countries on the topic of cultural diversity, increased capacity of partner organizations for project management and international cooperation, increased number of young people interested in non-formal education, volunteering and Erasmus+ opportunities, etc.
I am Andrei Ilici and I am happy to have been one of the members that represented Romania in the “Confluence of Cultures” Erasmus+ project in Croatia.
Even though it was not my first Erasmus+ experience and at first the schedule seemed interesting but usual to most project, I was very pleasantly surprised how quick that impression changed. For me, as probably for most others taking part, it has been a very emotionally intense project. At the workshop we had “heated”, but polite, discussions and we learnt that ones’ view on the world doesn’t reflect the whole picture. We were able to admit our shortcomings and help others find theirs. Thus, many were able to open emotionally and just be themselves.
I think the schedule was quite intense compared to other projects, but manageable. But no one was complaining. We were all a group of people from six countries, different corners of Europe, living in SRC Kukavica, with slow Wi-fi and not much data connection, isolated around by huge trees that were protecting us from the outside world. We all disconnected from our devices and started creating meaningful connection with people in real-life. As hard as this may seem in 2018, I found it to be incredible to be part of, but also to just watch.
We were communicating during the workshops and were eagerly expecting the coffee breaks and meal times only to talk more or play sports. Even at night, when most of us were tired, we still wanted to play games, dance, sing, talk more about ourselves and were very eager to hear others’ stories. We also had a common goal we were working towards: preparing the cultural event in Daruvar. We made teams that were each responsible of a task. When someone had a break from their task, they were just eager and happy to help other people. The energy around was just contagious. It was needed for when we were practising the very active traditional dances. We were all very tired, but we kept asking for more.
I can proudly say this has been one of the best projects I have taken part in. It made me discover not only others, but more importantly, myself. Would I take part again in this project? As I am now, it probably wouldn’t have as big of an impact as it did. Would I meet the other participants again? Definitely! Even if the organisation itself of the project was impeccable in my opinion, it is always the people that make any project. And with such an incredible format as we were in SRC Kukavica in the first two weeks of July 2018, why wouldn’t we? I think we made bonds for life, as seen in the last night before leaving when we kept just hugging each other, it seemed unreal that we all had to be hundreds and thousands of kilometres apart. We were like a family.
With all of those said, I would like to end by recommending to everyone that reads this material and has never taken part in any Erasmus+ project because it was too afraid, don’t be and just go! Not only you will have interesting experiences and learn about topics of European importance, you will find amazing people that will just change your life, be it you realise during the project or 5 years later.”