Between the 17th and the 26th of July, Nefeli, Niki, Danae, Lefteris, Achilleas and Antonis had the opportunity to participate in the Youth Exchange «European Hearts» in Romania. The Youth Exchange took place in the remote area of Halos, part of Manastirea Casin (20km away from Onesti town). It was hosted by a local NGO, Onestin, which is focused on various youth activities and initiatives, from arts & culture (music, theatre, folk and traditions), to European matters (social justice, citizenship, human rights, youth exchanges, training courses) or outdoor activities and environmental protection.
The Youth Exchange was geared towards discussions about emotions, diversity, and peaceful values, in the context of creating a common society. During the project there was a continuous process of analysing different forms of societies, discovering what the basic needs are, and debating whether there is an economic system able to serve equity or justice for all. There was also a focus on human rights, with the participants engaging in various activities on these topics.
The experience was very strong for most participants, due to the focus on personal emotions and development, giving everyone the opportunity to reflect on their personal journey and look ahead. There was a very strong connection between the Greek team and the other participants, creating unique friendships. The Greek team was also working very well together and supported each other during both the challenging and the fun times.
Let’s take a look at some personal summarising comments of the rest of the group:
- Nefeli’s experience
This experience was very interesting, it has definitely given me food for thought! We talked about arts, sociocracy, and self-expression.
Also, the region we’re staying at (Moldova) had an interesting history, which I was excited to learn.
- Danai’s experience
Ι believe that for most of us, ‘European HeARTs’ was truly an amazing experience. Being in a farm, lost in the countryside and the nature of Romania, disconnected from the world and our phones, we spent quality time with the people around us. The topic of the project was related to emotions and art, so even if we didn’t expect that, we shared various thoughts and feelings due to the activities. One of my favourite activities in the whole project, was when we had to make a short-film about an utopic community that we created, which was based on European values. We had so much fun working in groups, tasting intercultural food, being around the fire and dancing at night. Each participant from this project has a piece of my heart and gave me back something different. I feel really glad that I took this opportunity because I’m sure that everyone in the end grew personally even a little bit. Looking forward to meet all these guys again and for sure participate in more Youth Exchanges!
- Niki’s experience
As my first Erasmus Exchange, I think this program was a very good and lucky choice. The topic was intriguing from the start, however, what really made a difference for me was the familiarity and sense of belonging the whole group gave me. It was like a little experiment of a small, local community. Finally, living in an environment near nature, instead of an urban one, was definitely a plus.
- Achillea’s experience
I am about to share a lot of my perspective and emotions of my experience in Romania as a member of the Greek team. Well I should start from scratch , to be honest In the beginning I was not really into the project , I got to learn about it at the last moment from a friend of mine and I was very unsure and insecure to visit a foreign country all alone. Eventually I made up my mind and took the decision to go , and I am very glad I did. From the moment I arrived at Onesti many others greeted me which made me feel better considering the confusion that was dominant in my mind. Well the first days were kind of strange for me , I hadn’t quite grasped the purpose of me being there. As the days went by though, I could see myself being more and more attached to the group , the place but also the purpose of the project which still is not fully understood by me, or by anyone I would guess.. imagine the catch line was ‘’its part of the process ’’ (nener the purpose). So we got to know the project through the fun and creative little activities we did every day in which we got to discuss a lot and make up our thinking process but also advance our creativity in some cases. These are my main thoughts on the aspect of the project and I could speak about it all day ,so I’d better analyze my thoughts over the interpersonal relations with other members. Well I can describe relations with is phrase ‘’ We achieved –and I say we cause I know there where a lot of us in the same mindset– CONNECTION with each other’’, a significant role in our connection as a group in my opinion ,apart from the nice environment the group leader was creating and the nature of our personalities, was the location we stayed in since it was very remote and we had plenty of time to invest on each other ,plus the difficulties of staying in the ‘wild’ might also have given a little boost. And now the hard time has arrived.. The day I have to leave the place and return back to my normal life. As you can imagine I was a little bit depressed but i overcame it quickly enough. Now I am back in Athens and thinking though the experience I have realized many other important chapters of this trip and have realized how it replenished my energy and my creativity , my will to meet new people and how it triggered my curiosity over the potentials of a group project. I have no words to further describe it , you should try it yourselves!!
- Lefteris’ experience
I loved every single moment of this project and i already miss everyone. We all became a big group of friends that no borders nor any type of differences and stereotypes could stop us from our mutual growth. I got very interested in all the topics that each day brought. I was able to tap into my creativity and innovation while working in teams. I will never forget my visit in Romania and i will always be grateful that i was given the opportunity to have an experience like this.