“The first step to achieving anything, is to take a chance. For me, that chance was to participate in my first ever Erasmus + project, “Developing Capacities of Organizations Working on Gender Inequality in Rural Areas”, in Pogradec. At first I had some doubts, but from the moment the training course started, I knew I was in the right place.
Through getting to know each other activities and energizer games, I stepped out of my comfort zone and connected both with myself and the other participants. As a team, we created an open space for learning, where I felt encouraged to share my ideas and felt accepted.
During the course, we learnt what gender (in)equality really means, why it is caused and how it is being perpetuated. Through interactive and experiential learning methods, I realized that inequality is far more complex than I thought and that it lies deep in our society’s structure. Unexpectedly, that realization didn’t fill me with frustration, but it gave me a sense of hope and courage; I looked around and saw 24 young people, full of ideas and will to bring change to the world. We had many discussions on what measures we can take to bring the desirable change and even made a project on our dream country, where no discrimination exists. Even though the country we created was characterized as a “dream”, it wasn’t a utopian entity, taken out from our craziest fantasies, but it was simply a depiction of the world we live in today, morphed by our suggested institutional changes and social action.
In Pogradec, I met inspiring people and made new friends. I learnt many new things and got filled with determination. This experience will stay in my memory forever.”
“Each year, a lot of people are given the opportunity by Eramus+ projects to travel and learn new things. The project that I participated was about gender (in)equalities in rural areas, which is a very common issue especially in Balkans and it took place in Pogradec (Albania).
The facilitators organized the course with non-formal activities that helped as to know each other faster. At the intercultural evening we tasted snacks and danced to traditional music from every country that participated. Most of the time, we worked in groups, raised awareness about gender inequalities and the discriminations in our heteronormative society and by teamworking, we ended up in a common point. We tried to find the roots of the problem and came up with solutions. Except from the project, we were taught about the history and the monuments of Pogradec. Through visiting the city we had the chance to see a lot of them and more importantly have fun. The people there were so polite and the decorations on the shops/restaurant/café were impressive! I would like to visit Pogradec for holidays someday!
With this being my third Erasmus+ project, I realised that I am becoming a more extrovert person and that I really enjoy learning new things and gathering new experiences.”
“The Erasmus+ project named “Developing Capacities of Organizations Working on Gender Inequality in Rural Areas” took place in the city of Pogradec from 26th October to 2d November. Izabela, Zoe and I had the opportunity to broaden our horizons besides the southwestern shores of Lake Ohrid and gain knowledge about an issue that affects every human being: gender (in)equality.
Through non formal learning practices, outdoor activities and teamwork we and participants from Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Romania, Germany and Poland managed to delve into concepts such as gender inequalities, gender roles and gender stereotypes, that exist and persist because of a range of traditions, customs and social norms that govern the intricate workings of a patriarchal society. Moreover, the phenomenon of gender based violence was discussed, as well as the significance of protecting and promoting human rights, regardless of the gender or the sexual preferences someone has. Apart from that, it was highlighted that strengthening the capacities of non governmental organizations and supporting educational institutions can be fruitful in terms of achieving change.
It is true that sharing personal experiences and stories brought us together, thus we had an interesting interaction full of enjoyable moments. The intercultural evening is undoubtedly one of them. More precisely, all the participants had to bring traditional drinks, salty and sweet dishes from their countries and at the end of the night not only did we learn Albanian songs but we were also taught Polish and Romanian folk dances!
Concluding, this project was an ideal beginning for me, as I come from Albania and I know the barriers that LGBTQ+ community and Albanian women continue to face in order to achieve their full potential, especially in the rural areas.”