Year 2020 wasn’t generous on international educational opportunities for youth. In 2021situation is changed a bit. So August, 2021 we will remember because of youth exchange “I don’t believe in Meigas, but in Valdeorras they are” in Spanish Galicia. 30 young people from Ukraine, Spain, Estonia, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey and Czech Republic were discovering gender and cultural stereotypes, stories and legends, own identities and Las-Medulas, a historic gold-mining site. In one week in small Spanish village Carucedo except everything mentioned above we had time to create magic stories and were trying to improve them, find new friends and got plenty of impressions. Read more about them below from our participants.


«It was my first Youth Exchange project, and it totally transformed my concept of myself. Before the participation i was sure that i was not communicative person who afraid public-speaking. After 1 week among 30+ people from different countries i understood that i was wrong. Awesome benevolent atmosphere in the project allowed me to discover new sides of myself. I had a lot of possibilities to improve my soft-skills (like a teamwork) and discover new country in the same time. Sunny Spain, incredible people from 7 countries, and interesting activities every day. It was totally awesome, i believe that participation in projects like this definitely can change someone’s worldview or even life».


«In current time, during the pandemic, i wanted to meet new people and new countries so much that i didn’t care about the topic of the project. It was really awesome that organizers managed to bring everyone together in such a beautifull country, and we could speak to each other offline. This is a great value in the current time. Everything else was also great – amazing (but so hot) Spain, breathtaking mountain landscapes, and interesting activities every day. I totally liked the project, it was cool».


«For me, this youth exchange was not exactly about witches, but rather about the fact that everyone believes in something of their own and it is their private business. Belief in various irrational phenomena gives someone motivation and confidence in invisible support, someone – a sense of calm. And it’s very interesting, especially about different regional and cultural contexts. The experience of the post-code offline format was very valuable because we all got used to interacting and at times we felt strange emotions: anxiety, fear, caution in everyday moments. The crisis of group dynamics did not come in the middle of the project, as it often happens at such events, but much earlier. We are used to it and do not yet know how to live this new reality.

As a person working in youth policy, I was interested in talking to colleagues from other countries and supplementing my knowledge with topics, and how in their countries the government supports young people. And there were some new coaching exercises that I want to use in my work (for example, about the witch’s lake). Culturally and mentally, my greatest coach was the moment during one of the cultural evenings, when the phrase “Sarajevo is alive, Sarajevo is rebuilt” sounded clear, boldly, and confidently. At that moment, I felt a herd of ants running down my back and I did not quite understand myself, my reaction, and my emotions. As for the technical characteristics of the organization of the event, this exchange once again assured me that in fact for quality work with young people does not always need luxury hotels, exquisite service, or a lot of handouts, merch. A sunset just on the grass with chairs and paper, pens can be a million times more interesting and effective in content than one that is perfectly prepared in shape.

The venue, time, and weather conditions also helped to completely dissolve in people, moments, communication, and vice versa. The general picture seemed to say “everything is fine, everything will be fine, there are so many nice things around!” The competence that I pumped the most is the need to listen, to interrogate, to interrogate a second time, to clarify, and if necessary, to interrogate a third time, because we all talk about the same things in terribly different ways».

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By alena

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European Solidarity Corps    Eastern Europe & Caucasus Resource Centre    Громадські ініціативи України