International Youth Exchange ‘Bridges not walls! Inclusion KA1 Youth Mobility Project financed by the National Agency in Ireland Leargas under the European Union Program Erasmus+. Participating countries: Ireland, Lithuania, Spain. Hosting and coordinating organisation- Eurobug.
Event took place at Innovator’s Valley in Lithuania on 29th of June – 15th of August, 2019
The concept of social inclusion was adopted by the European Union in the late 1980s as a key concept in social policy and in many instances replaced the concept of poverty. Many years pasted by, but we still need to shout loud and fight for inclusion. So, I believe that in this 20 days project ‘Bridges not walls! Inclusion’ participants had an opportunity to learn so many things about inclusion process, not just from youth workers and youth leaders, but it was full 20 days of learning from each other. We lived like a huge family, shared ideas about inclusion process, planned actions and prepered young people to stand for inclusion. People were so motivated and excited to fulify their action plans in their local communities, that I could see that fighter sparks in all of their eyes. I feel so proud of every one who participated in this project, because as a team we achieved so much and we created a wonderful performance in three different cities and also, people found their friends and international team which will last for a life time and will do so many amazing things after this project.This International Youth Exchange also reflected our organisation’s values, beliefs and vision ’To empower young people to actively participate in building more peaceful communities where diversity is celebrated and every single person is valued for who they are.’
Special thanks: ‘Bridges not walls! Inclusion’ was a collaborative work, therefore I want to thank our Partner Organizations for their commitments during the planning, implementation and evaluation of this project. I also want to extend special thanks to Kelvin Akpaloo, Cristobal Bi Moreno, Aiste Kazokaite, Ignui Lapieniui, Raquel Sastre Rojo, Laura Ruiz Navarro who took a very active role in this journey of ‘building bridges’. Thank you! Eurobug Director, Aiste Slajute
The main aim of this international project was to go into the details about the topic of social inclusion and the issues related to migration, refugees, people with disabilities and LGBTQI+. This was a follow-up project built on the experiences of the last years’ ‘Bridges Not Walls-Migration!’ Youth Exchange.
The main objectives were:
- Youth empowerment through active participation;
- Increasing young people’s knowledge and understanding of the complex concept of ‘social
- Space for intercultural learning and self-expression through performing arts;
- Creating an awareness raising campaign for social inclusion.
As a result of taking part in this international youth exchange participants gained the following skills, knowledge and attitudes:
- Looked at the obstacles that marginalized groups such as migrants, refugees, people with disabilities and LGBTQI+ are experiencing in today’s society;
- Developed critical knowledge about the power structures today and how it affects our participation in life;
- Understood the links between social inclusion and human rights;
- Through living and working together in the intercultural environment young people gained all range of soft skills, such ability to connect with people around us, ability to listen actively, and to communicate effectively using verbal and non-verbal communications;
- Learned how to be flexible and to adapt in different environment and how to consider different cultural and social norms;
- Through various workshops, organised by participants themselves, their skills of public speaking, leadership, facilitation and making presentations improved;
- Skills of action-planning, time and task management and how to use social media to raise awareness about important issues;
- Teamwork, collaboration and networking skills were also improved as a result of this project;
- Skills of creative thinking and creative self-expression through performing arts grow, as well as ability to deconstruct problems in creative way;
- Participants enhanced critical thinking through discussions and their ability to make joined decisions and solve conflicts have improved;
- Through on-going evaluations and reflection session’s young people adopted an attitude of taking responsibility for their personal learning process and ability to self-asses their learning needs and progress; learned to recognise and to follow their personal growth and development;
- Young people got motivated to become change makers in their local communities and to promote diversity, intercultural dialogue, and common values of freedom, tolerance and respect of human rights;
- Gained a sense of initiative through their active engagement in this project and a sense of European citizenship and European identity;
- Furthermore, these personal journeys of self-development, new competences gained, and improved English language skills will increase participants’ employability in a long run.
National groups were involved in this project: Ireland, Lithuania and Spain. There were more nationalities and cultures represented in the participants group: Turkey and Ghana. Also, in this project were people from minorities: LGBTQI+, migrants. These people honestly talked about their reality and shared with us different stories and this honest relationship between participants, created extremely strong bond. All young people were passionate about inclusion process trough performing arts, such as: puppetry, dancing, theatre, music, song writing, videography and photography. The Partner Organizations who took part in ‘Bridges not walls! Inclusion’ mostly works with topics of integration, social inclusion and human rights. They supported young peoples’ participation through full duration of this project.
IRELAND –Eurobug 🇮🇪
Eurobug’ is an Irish NGO that stands for diversity and social inclusion of ethnic minority youth. We organise local, national and international projects with and for young people;and training courses for youth and community workers in Ireland and Europe
Project coordinator and Youth Worker: Aiste Slajute
Youth Leader: Kelvin Akpaloo
LITHUANIA – Eurobug Lithuania 🇱🇹
Eurobug Lithuania is Lithuanias NGO that works with young people from different backgrounds in different Lithuanias towns and cities trough non-formal education.
Youth Worker: Aistė Kazokaitė
Youth Leader: Ignas Lapienis
SPAIN – Europimpulse 🇪🇸
EuropeImpulse was born from the need to provide training for the civil society on the cooperation, European funding, Education, Social Innovation, Culture and Sustainable development. EuropeImpulse is a Spanish project developed through two basic areas: 1. Europimpuls Training: development of learning methodologies, resources and tools (online and off-line) about European project engineering and 2. Europimpulse Network: promotion of spaces for the exchange of experiences, collaboration and incubation of innovative projects
Youth worker: Cristobal Bi Moreno
Youth Leader: Laura Ruiz Navarro
INTERVIEWS WITH PARTICIPANTS 🗣️
Jack Jones from Dublin (Ireland 🇮🇪)
“I want to thank Eurobug, International Youth Work Training and Collaboration Ltd. for giving me the chance to collaborate with young people from across Europe in Lithuania and have a performance that had such a strong message on social issues that are so current and important to people of our generations.
The day at Rukla where we got the opportunity to have fun with refugee kids and parents from war torn places in a refugee detention centre and was so unique and amazing. To physically see the people affected by migration and have no verbal conversation through art and dance and facial expression. I never thought I would get a chance like that before and I realised I never understood the situation fully until that day.
I feel that everyone of any age should give up a small amount of their own time to put back into their/your own community in any way you can. Because if we get to know your communities you can understand and have conversations with people with different backgrounds and stories so we can solve many of the current global issues by being more open minded.”
Dominykas Šinkonis from Vilnius (Lithuania 🇱🇹)
“I was very impressed by Eurobug representatives professional attitude and impact towards participants and idea of this project. Schedule was presented in a clear and understandable manner. Moreover, the goals that we set as a group were accomplished with advance, that is certain indication of good and responsible management. Most importantly there was no pressure and restrictions for people to express their own ideas.
Every creative process during this project was very authentic and unforgettable. The idea to gather people who have various experiences in performing arts was very beneficial. Artistic and creative people create this very unique and open for ideas environment. The feeling of this specific environment with all amazing people there I will definitely remember for a long time.”
Guillem Lisarde from Valencia (Spain 🇪🇸)
“#BridgesNotWallsInclusion project came to me at the right moment in my life. I am #LGBTQ activist and recently I helped people with disabilities to participate in the pride, so when I found out about this exchange I really thought that this would fullify my personality. Of course the duration of this project, which is 3 weeks and that I had no idea how projects works, was a bit scary for me. I waited almost till the deadline to fill in application for this project, but I am so glad that I looked the fear in the eyes and did it, because this project is better than I could ever imagine! In this place, with these people, I can not only learn, discuss, discover, but also I can feel myself, I can be myself. There I had a chance to visit a refuge center in Rukla. At first I thought I had no knowledge of how to play with kids and entertain them, but when I started to play with them it looked like I became a kid and even though we didn’t know their language it was so easy to be with them and make them smile. Before going there I was a bit sceptical and I thought that there is no way that we could do anything for them, that could help them to feel better, but this project taught me an important lesson, that small things matter and to make kids happy for a few hours is better than doing nothing.”
Ashley Makombe Chadamoyo from Dublin (Ireland 🇮🇪)
“After graduating I realised I have no idea when I might get to be in an environment like this again so I figured I should take each opportunity that came my way. So I decided to go to #BridgesnotwallsInclusion project. It was also dealing with topics that I do dearly care about so it was the perfect mix of everything for me.
From the exchange I expected and went in with the idea to learn and grow which I think I achieved. But I feel as if I also left with life long friends and memories that I never in a million years expected. While I miss the trip and wish to go back.
After this project I am more sure of myself as a person and what talents I bring to the table. I just have a better understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.
I really appreciate Eurobug and all the work that they are doing. I thought the project was organised incredibly well especially given the amount of people and the length of the project.“
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