Youth Exchanges

Youth Exchanges

Youth exchanges at Zavod Voluntariat are organised within the Erasmus+ Youth in action programme. The definition of a youth exchange from the programme guide emphasises the following:

Youth Exchanges allow groups of young people from at least two different countries to meet and live together for up to 21 days. During a Youth Exchange, participants, supported by group leaders, jointly carry out a work programme (a mix of workshops, exercises, debates, role-plays, simulations, outdoor activities, etc.) designed and prepared by them before the Exchange. Youth Exchanges allow young people to: develop competences; become aware of socially relevant topics/thematic areas; discover new cultures, habits and life-styles, mainly through peer-learning; strengthen values like solidarity, democracy, friendship, etc. The learning process in Youth Exchanges is triggered by methods of non-formal education. The rather short duration makes the involvement of young people with fewer opportunities appropriate; as such a Youth Exchange offers an international mobility experience in the safety of a group with the possibility of having an adequate number of group leaders to take care of the participants. A Youth Exchange can also be a good setting for discussing and learning about inclusion and diversity issues. Youth Exchanges are based on a transnational cooperation between two or more participating organisations from different countries within and outside the European Union.

If you wish to read more about the youth exchanges, follow this link: Guide to Erasmus+ Youth in action programme.

Every year we take part in several youth exchanges covering a variety of topics, from exchanges in Germany, searching for connections between jokes and stereotypes, to ecologically themed exchanges in Turkey, planning the restoration of a deserted village.

For volunteers, these exchanges represent a great stepping stone to the international world of volunteering:

  • You are always accompanied by a leader, who takes care of any potential complications
  • Youth exchange is financially fully covered – participant has to cover the travel expenses to the exchange place and back only in the case of insufficient lump sum for the travel expenses
  • Exchanges are youth friendly, as they do not emphasise physical work, but instead focus on intercultural exchange, socialising with the youth and co-leading various workshops where participants can gain precious experience and strengthen their competences
  • It is possible for those younger than 18 to participate as well, in some cases the age limit is only 13!

Youth exchanges are a product of discussions between the host organisation and one or more sending organisations. If you wish to participate in a youth exchange make sure to keep an eye on our newsfeed and webpage, where we regularly publish vacancies.

PAST YOUTH EXCHANGES

Cinematizens

In August 2013, Zavod Volunatriat organised an exchange for youths with less opportunities called ‘CINEMATIZENS’. Twenty-six young people from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain and Slovenia participated. Over a ten day period, the participants studied the concept of active citizenship, then captured the essence of the theme in the form of short film.

During that time, the youths familiarised themselves with the concept of active citizenship, discussed its meaning, and learned how can they enact it themselves. Through games they learned differences between movie genres, how to work as a team, and alongside guided workshops got to know the rules of film making, how to operate a camera, etc. They also visited a garden near the prison on Povšetova Street that is being taken care of by the prisoners and volunteers, as well as Skuhna, a project of social entrepreneurship – two great examples of active citizenship in practice. With the help of workshop leaders, they wrote the scripts, shot, and edited short films. Active Citizen, Be Colourful, Parallel Life and Wake Up On Time are just a few of their short films available on our YouTube channel. They depict issues societies face today and offer simple solutions for eliminating them. These kinds of exchanges enable informal education, gaining new experiences within different cultures, learning and improving language skills, and forming new friendships. To quote one participant: ‘I didn’t like it on the first day… I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t know what to do with myself. But now, on the last day, I wish that the exchange would never end!’.

Soul Food

Another youth exchange, this time in Travna Gora, Slovenia, centred on the topic of healthy diets and lifestyles. Young people from Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia got learned about healthy diets, permaculture, fat burning exercises, vegetarian health, etc. Participants prepared a variety of dishes, and learned the importance of healthy eating.

Upcycle Fashion

Zavod Voluntariat organised an international youth exchange in Greece with partners at YUWG – a work group for integrating youth with fewer opportunities into international activities. Young people aged 18 to 25 learned different techniques for making useful objects and clothes from used materials. Five young people from Slovenia participated in the exchange, joined in Greece by local youths, as well as Serbians and Bulgarians.

Youth Exchange on the Topic of Cultural Heritage in Spain

This youth exchange took place in the town of Jean, southern Spain. Its purpose was to educate youths on the area’s, heavily Templar-influenced, cultural heritage. 

You can read more about the youth exchange in this vivid description written by one Slovenian participant…

Well, (unfortunately) our exchange in Spain is over. Did it fulfil our expectations that we had before we left? No, it didn’t just fulfil them, it even exceeded them! We spent an unforgettable weekend in Chiclani de Segura, which is a part of Andalusia region and could be called a land of thousand olive trees and open people. Beside us Slovenians, there were people from Spain, Italy, and Hungary, and for the week we breathed, had fun, got closer, and laughed together till tears rolled down our faces. Because everyone is unique, for the whole week we tried not to form groups according to our nationalities, but instead we took time for each individual, and talked to them, even though we only understood half of the words. It was the purpose and warm, kind approach that really mattered. Every day was exciting, special, and different to us, but no less important than the day before. We socialized both in words and games, but mostly in laughter and friendly ways. We went to the pool several times, where we got to know each other better and got closer by playing board games. We were sightseeing in different cities, getting to know each other and Spanish people, whose lives are much calmer and less hectic than ours. They know how to take time for themselves, especially in the summer time, when they rest – have siesta from 2 to 6 in the afternoon. But mostly, they are kind and ready to help even before you know you need help at all.
We also socialized by visiting museums, bathing and relaxing at the lake. As I already said, we played several games, not missing on the poker and other card games! We loved to dance in the evenings and talked long into the night. We all fell in love with the Spanish cuisine, because it is very tasty and something special. Before the meals we set the table together, and after the meals we did the dishes in mixed groups in order to get even closer. We exchanged our contact information with the most of the participants, because we got so close that we simply do not want to lose touch. We returned from the exchange full of positive experiences, warmth in our hearts, and good feelings. When we think back to this week, a smile pops up on our faces. And this is what really counts, stays with you for the rest of your life, and enriches you! And for the end here is a thought that really touched us during that week: ‘We do not speak the same language, but we all laugh in the same language!

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