Between the 21st and the 30rd of July, Ilia, Fenia, Stavroula, Evi, Vivi, Liana and Bessy had the opportunity to participate in the Youth Exchange «Developing By Sharing, Implementing the Project» in Cyprus. The Youth Exchange took place in the area of Paralimni and it was hosted by NECI EU which aims to create a powerful group/team of citizens of Europe from different cultural background and educational and financial level who share the same vision: Equal and decent opportunities on lifelong learning, on health and on enjoying a healthy diverse environment.
The first day after our arrival was full of activities and icebreakers in order to get to know each other better. We started with some name games. At the beginning it was a challenge for everyone to remember 42 different names but I think at the end of the day we managed to know most of the participants names. As a team leader of the Greek team, we selected with the other leaders some of the ice breakers. For me the best one was the one with the self portraits, because at the same time combines movement, music and getting to know each other better (task: you have a sketch, a name and you are looking for the person that you have to make his or her portrait). The day ended with an introduction to youthpass and what is this about. I am always so excited on the first day of Erasmus+ projects because I am looking forward to meeting new people. This is the reason why I chose to describe this day!
(Ilia, youth leader)
After the introduction to the project, the day began with an energizer and then with an activity which led us to form international teams based on a topic that interested us the most. We first had to work on our SWOT analysis, individually, and then – through dialogue with our teams – to create our collective analysis. Afterwards, we started to plan and describe our new project and present it to the rest of the participants. We also discussed our SMART analysis regarding our project idea. This whole process, which we carried out throughout the duration of the project, was an amazing experience and was rather educational when it comes to project writing and implementation. We also bonded with each other, improved our communication skills and gained a better understanding of our very different and interesting backgrounds.
This was the third day of the project. We start our day with some really good and creative energizers as we end the name games because we kind of remember the names of the participants. After that we worked in national teams and each country had to present to others some of the implements of a project.
In the afternoon we split into teams and we had to do 8 tasks through the venue and the workshop. We discussed, we shared ideas and opinions and we completed the task with a lot of new knowledge.
The day ends with the cultural night. Greece and Romania present their countries and their local traditional food in the 1st intercultural night . We played some Kahoot, danced and we had a really good time.
The fourth day of the project (25/10) started with us being divided into working groups and having our projects in process. But of course we started with an energiser to raise our vigilance . Afterwards , each group took a note with the basic practical arrangements we needed to specify about our project. After a small explanation and questions to the facilitators , we started working and discussing the issues and taking notes about our results. It was a really efficient morning as soon as we finished the details of our project and we fully understood the procedure ( especially to participants that it was their first project). After this full morning we took some time to rest and have lunch or for those who wanted to go to the nearest beach . We started our activities again at 15:30 by playing the top ten game with our groups which we were hoping we’d be on time for. Then we started group by group presenting our projects to the others . By the end of each presentation we had some minutes for feedback and questions from the other teams . Also our facilitators gave us important comments and their opinions about each project presentation. The afternoon was full of new information and it was very interesting to hear how the other teams thought and discussed the same issues as yours. So we didn’t notice when the time passed ! Of course, after we finished with our presentations the facilitators gave us time to discuss at the circle and make questions that we may have during the whole procedure. After that we had a reflection time every night with our national group leaders and this is how the activities were finished. But of course the day didn’t finish yet ! That night we had the last intercultural night . Cyprus and Poland presented their countries in a really fun way. We played games and quizzes, we saw videos and we tasted the traditional treats of each country . The night was closed with polish dances and many many smiles.
The following day was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting days of the entire project. Firstly we began our day with an energizer, which helped all the participants feel refreshed, creative and stay focused for the activity that followed. As regards the activity, we worked with our teams on developing the project we chose. We emphasized the importance of communication and the target group. We discussed the details of our project implementation – for instance travel, accommodation, insurance safety and protection of participants, visa, social security, mentoring and support, etc. – and getting into deeper understanding of how an actual project can be organized. It’s my firm belief that the particular activity encouraged everyone to «think outside the box» and take into consideration every factor that has relevance to the project. In the afternoon, prior to the final activity of the day, we get to do an energizer which split the group into five different teams. The topic we had to discuss was regarding nuclear energy. Each team was given a specific role, based on which we had to defend or reprove the use of nuclear energy. Each team selected a representative who had to debate and convince the crowd (the rest of the participants) to be in favor or against the use of nuclear energy. The day ended with a reflection meeting of the national groups. The particular day was vastly intriguing and thought-provoking for me due to the fact that my team managed to organize the developing project with perfect cooperation, thus our bond got much stronger. Moreover, I was lucky to be one of the representatives at the second activity, hence I had the chance to practice my presentation skills with an amusing and enjoyable activity.
The sixth day of the project was a rather exciting one.we got to explore and experience a bit of ayia napa since we were escorted by some neci Cyprus members who took us sightseeing. We first visited the ayia Napa open museum which features some of the greatest sculptures Cyprus has to offer. We were given a tour by the Cyprus members and we got to take some of the few group photos (of the project). By this point on the project we were very invested in taking photos and videos of memorable things but also funny things, well let’s just say that this day was very fruitful. I feel that it’s important to mention that we were given mini tasks the morning of, so during the day some could say we were multitasking . that we were given some «free» time, in which we all decided to go to the beach. Ayia Napa is famous for her beaches after all. After some swimming and some beach volleyball, it was time for our return. Everyone was pretty exhausted At this point. We got back to the rooms and in about an hour we were called to the activity room. Some intense top 10 and energizers later we were ready to get to business. The final goal of the day was to finalize the group projects and to focus a bit on the evaluation process such as to create a flipchart ,a questioner and finally to present one of them to our fellow participants. I noticed that this day was the best when it came to the teamwork of every group and everyone was far more productive since they were in tune with their group’s subjects. After all this was successfully done, we had dinner like everyday and after that some of the participants got to organize a game night, which by the looks of it got pretty competitive and heated.
During the next few days we had the opportunity to continue our work with our teams that were focused on the projects we discussed. I was member of the group that had to work on the «Sex Education Project». We did brainstorming and scheduling of two main activities of the project as if it was about to happen. Then we received feedback from the rest of the bigger group. Aside from the projects we created, the presentations we attended and the activities we took part in, we also had to be caring and giving to our «secret friend». During the last day of the project we had to wait for two surprises. The first was the apocalypse of our secret friend and the second one was the Youthpass that we received, which was confirming the knowledge and the skills that we gained through the project. I hope that we will stay connected with the people we met in Paralimni and maybe in the future we will plan an Erasmus programme applying all the things we learnt during this week.