84 Years of Youth (Work) without borders

Written by Tinerii 3D. Posted in Stories with #tinerii3d

3 representatives of Tinerii 3D took part to “Youth (Work) without borders” TC as part of the Erasmus+ project with the same name in Nova Gradiska, Croatia between 10 and 18 September 2018. The hosting NGO was “Association of the deaf and hard of hearing Nova Gradiška”.

Andreea, one of the Romanian participants share us her feelings about it:
It’s been 84 years. Scratch that It’s been 84 years, 3 days and 40 minutes. No, the following will not be an article about Titanic. It will reveal the experience of 20 young people trying to learn about non formal education in Nova Gradiska. I know it is a bit confusing but bear with me. The training course itself was only 8 days but they felt like 84 years. The three days symbolise the time since we’ve been allowed to wake up later than 8 am. And it’s been 40 minutes since I’ve been trying to start this article and I’ve got the feeling it’s not going anywhere. As wisely mentioned last week, please, try and be patient, something will happen.
The first few days were about building an appropriate base for what was to come. We were creating a personalized learning plan and figuring out our expectations and needs for the training. Gradually, we looked at the different types of education majorly focusing on non-formal education methods. Later on, the difference between instructing, training, facilitating, mentoring and coaching was discussed. It might seem quite academic (though it wasn’t), but fun part of all this, was that we were working on group dynamics without even realizing.
Here’s what I’ve learnt. You know that a group works well when after a 5-minutes brain storming session comes up with a catchy song on non-formal education. I have to admit that it might not have been the best song but it was a solid 7/10 considering that we actually used the words found on a flipchart from a previous session as lyrics. The best out of all this is that the song was carefully recrafted by a group of participants and was actually revealed on the last night of the project (yes, there were tears). I can confidently say that it was a 10/10. At least in our hearts. Or in mine. I might be subjective since this was one of my favourite moments of the week.
Back to more serious stuff, we did learn a lot. After having been given a fair amount of insight on how to design a NFL activity by the trainers and facilitator, it was now our turn to put theory into practice and organize our own activity. As everything that went down during the training, we were creatively organized in teams. This time, focusing on the issues that we wanted to cover during our sessions. Prior the training, we had to conduct a small scale research on the needs of youth in our communities. The topics that we had to cover were chosen based on the research results. We had a full day in our hands, a wonderful working space and more than enough guidance throughout the process. I was fortunate enough to have a team that I truly synced with which is really difficult to find and it all fell smoothly into place.
The second day, we owned the stage (yes, it was as glam as it sounds). We delivered our own sessions which were by no means perfect but that’s where learning comes into place. It was a process. A crucial step of this training was learning how to give and receive feedback. Looking back, that’s when I learned the most. Experiential learning did its trick and we were all engaged in the sessions and the after math. We were spending our days successfully working together and our nights unsuccessfully trying to find a bar open later than midnight (I can write it down as the only failure that week).
On the last day, we had a graduation ceremony (yes, we received our youth passes in a fancy way) and the best song on non-formal education was revealed for the whole world to see. Or 25 people … same thing. The most heart-warming part of all this was spending what felt like 84 years with amazing people and the friendships that we built. Oh and as a bonus for me: I’ve got three new mentors to constantly bother. There was crying, hugging and planning a follow up training course that’s going to be at least as amazing as the first one (Still, no pressure!). You know, the usual.

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