#JoinUs Erasmus+ Youth Exchange Report
HOW TO: Travelling for the inexperienced
So you are young, don’t have much money but want to travel, meet people and see the world before getting old while you can still walk without sticks? Interested in discovering secret places that only locals know, improving language skills, being open to new perspectives? 3 minutes is all I ask – you will not regret it, believe me. Maybe we’ll even meet. Otherwise, thank you for your time and have a beautiful day.
#JoinUs for a few minutes to take you to the other side of human nature of volunteering and solidarity world. Have you ever wondered why everybody keeps joining these youth exchanges? Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time in a chicken-shaped country there was no signal, no internet connection and people helped each other, talked, shared life stories and learned from one another. This is how it was in a nutshell. Have you heard of Hodoš, a small small village on top of a hill in Slovenia? Neither did we, before we came here. They say you can only talk about experience if you live it. Iron gate that you have to keep closed, so that wild pigs will not enter the camp, in the middle of nowhere, only forest, stars, you and people you meet for the first time. From 7 different countries for a period of 10 days.
On first sight it looks like you are all different, there are so many differences and diversities between us, but through activities, workshops and just talking during free time, we found out more similarities that bring us together rather than keep us apart. Although it was a challenge, after all the isolation, we started to get use to it and got closer to each other, shared our laughs, hugs, songs, dances, memories that we collected and will carry in our hearts.
First stop: Hodoš, youth home. This was our accommodation and home for the whole duration while staying there. First two days were about getting to know each other with various ice breaking games, energizers, general information about Erasmus + programmes, organizations, volunteering, debates about different topics like LGBTQ+, minorities, discrimination, stereotypes, and about all of the participating countries in the project and how much we think and know about them and how much is really not true.
Second stop: getting to know the local environment. Murska Sobota was the first stop in civilization. We also had a chance to visit a Roma village, where we included local kids into our team building games. Although not everybody understood their language, it was still possible to communicate with facial expressions and body language. Beside playing games, we found out about the Roma people and how they are included in everyday life of the community. They have their own kindergarten, fire station and a football club. Broadening our knowledge about it from a local person affected us on a more emotional level than just reading about it online. It got even more intense when we went to an elderly home and took them for a walk. Again, the language barrier might be seen as an obstacle, but we still found a way to communicate – sometimes listening is all that is needed. Sometimes we just want to be heard. They were so happy to see us; they sang and thanked us for doing this small gesture. Together we created a well-wishing tree. It is a small step to make someone’s day a little bit brighter. We showed them our faces without masks, from a safe distance, just to remind them the feelings and expressions that can’t be put into words.
Third stop: dancing. Dance is a very old ritual that brings people together even more close into personal space. So we learned a choreography. Although we had some injuries, at the end of the day they were the heroes of the week. They showed us how we can develop together and watch each other’s backs, show support and empathy.
Fourth stop: Ljubljana. One of the most beautiful cities in the world. You know – you have to see it to believe it. City run, sightseeing, taking a walk, going for a coffee … What happens in Ljubljana stays in Ljubljana.
Fifth stop: work-action. One of the things that brings people together is food. We cooked – together, we made artwork – together, we left some traces behind – together, traces that will make children and young people who go there more active and motivated to join us. We got our hands dirty, but we left with a clean and fulfilled heart.
Sixth stop: the end. All of this that you are reading now, we wrote on 30th of July 2021 at 3 PM, while it was 35 degrees outside. We were thinking what to write to keep you interested, and hopefully to inspire you to join us. Doing something good for the sake of doing something good feels good. Sharing is caring.
We started as 7 different nations and we became a one big family, nations of one union. European union.
- So It is never too late to do something good. Guess how it makes you feel? GOOD.
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