The mobility within the framework of the project European Citizenship Education took place between 15-23 of August 2019 in Bodo, situated in the Timiș county, in the western part of Romania.
42 young people from 7 countries (Romania, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Bulgaria, Finland and Denmark) participated throughout the six days of activities based on non-formal education methodologies to make friends, interact with other cultures and nonetheless, learn and gain more knowledge on the topic of EU and Europenism.
The village of Bodo is a quiet village in the Timiș county, located 65 km away from Timișoara and 20 km away from Lugoj, which are the biggest cities in the vicinity, and is easy accessible directly from the A1 motorway. Here in Bodo, the participants were accommodated in Bodo Smart Camp, a facility prepared for holding large groups of people, with shared dorms in which the participants were mixed, gender biased. The venue has a generous space both inside and outside the building. Amongst the facilities which can be found in the Camp, there is a courtyard for outdoor activities in which there are tables and chairs for socializing, a large space to play games or other sport activities and a synthetic football pitch where the participants can play football or do other types of activities during the day. Inside the main building there are multiple shared rooms on the 2nd floor with two gender biased shared bathrooms that hold multiple toilets and showers, and on the first floor there can be found a multifunctional hall equipped with technical equipment that can be used for trainings, conferences, social events, etc. with a capacity of up to 150 people, which is also the main room in which the activities were held. It also has another two training rooms with a capacity of 25 people which can be used individually during the workshops, a dining room, a kitchen and multiple bathrooms scattered through the Camp.
Because it is a shared space in which everyone lives together, eats together, shares the same bathrooms and rooms for the whole duration of the mobility, the participants interact with each other far more often, which means they have many more chances to learn and share experiences than in any other environment.
In the next couple of paragraphs, you will be briefly presented with some of the activities carried out throughout the days of the mobility by the participants.
Every Youth Exchange is unique in its own way, due to factors like the group chemistry, the type of activities carried out or even the weather outside during the period of staying. Even though the uniqueness of the mobility is given by the behavour of the participants, it is influenced by some practices in the form of activities that are done in the first few days of the activities and are imperative for the well-being of the project. First of all, the participants were given an official introduction into the mobility by the organizing team, where together with them they made the rules of the YE, such as participation in activities and punctuality, quiet hours, cleaning after each meal or other issues which would impact in a way the staying in the Camp. Moreover, during this introduction, the participants learned more about the Erasmus+ programme and about the Youthpass as a certificate they will get at the end to recognize all the skills and competences they gained.
To encourage the participants to open up to the experience of the Youth Exchange and to let the uniqueness of the project happen easily, during the first two days we mainly focused on doing ice-breakers, get-to-know-each-other activities, name games and team-building games. It is of an extreme importance that this activities happen accordingly, because it forms the group unity the mobility needs in order to maximize the results of the project. We also held the secret friend activity, which is one of the most popular activities during Youth Exchanges, which gave a lot of contribution into creating friendships and smiles.
Throughout the next few days, because of this introductory level activities and energizers that they went through, the participants gained more confidence and slowly began to exteriorize themselves into talking in public, in front of the others during presentations or with the others in the free time. Because the group was gaining already a final shape, we could get into the topic with more ease. The first activity on the matter was a simulation of the European Parliament, in which the youngsters debated and voted on the rights given to the migrants. They assumed roles as parlamentarians of different political groups and simulated a debate in the middle of a committee, with interventions, moderators and votes in the plenary sessions of the Parliament.
Simulations, basically giving the participants the feel of something as close to the real experience are very important for the learning process and for the informations they get out of it. The next day, a simulation was organized between the Council of Ministers and the European Commission, after a workshop on how the UE institutions work done by the participants themselves.
Talking freely and debating is extremely important, as participants do not only learn new things from the different perspectives of the participants, but also learn how to talk in public and speak more freely and defend their own views on the matter. One of the activities mixed the participants in groups of 7, and they had a very interesting debate session on current European subjects: authoritarianism vs. European values, inclusion vs. discrimination, EU vs. national state and globalization. Because of the broad subjects and huge space to fill in with informations on the matter, the activity was held during 2 days.
One of the most tangible outputs of the mobility were action plans for active citizenship in the local community which the participants made during the last days, by using the knowledge they gained. The activity was done in groups of 6 and had a few steps they had to take in order to get to present the plans during the first half of the last days of activities. At first, the participants held a brainstorming activity to prepare project ideas (communication strategies, training modules, community actions, etc.). Then they started writing and developing the ideas step by step to finally evaluate them accordingly to the activity flow. The main purpose of this activity was to create action plans, actual written projects that which the sending partner organizations and the host organization can use and implement so that active citizenship becomes a more familiar concept for more and more target groups and a larger number of beneficiaries.
During this week of the mobility, every day would end with a daily evaluation in which the participants were reflecting and remembering the highlights of that day in order to absorb more information at the end of the sessions. One other reason of the partial evaluation was to track the development of the key competences of the Youthpass which would have been accumulated at the end of the mobility. A very important moment both for the participants and for the hosting organization aswell was the final evaluation session in which were drawn conclusions on how the week went and where everyone could freely talk and express their feelings towards what happened in the mobility and what they learned. Also, because of the final evaluation, the hosting organization receives feedback directly from the participants in order to further improve the experience of the next groups that they are going to host.
Each night, the participants from each country have organized a multicultural event in which they prepared a presentation of their origin country along with traditional food, sweets and drinks which they either brought with them or cooked during the preparation of the presentation for the other participants. Every night we had each of the 7 countries giving everyone insights about their most beautiful and interesting cities, involving everyone to play a quiz and learning traditional dances. Multicultural evenings are the most fun and interesting methods through which the participants can learn about the other’s countries and they are also a challenge for the host country to make it as amazing as possible for the others.
The village Bodo, which is about 60 km from Timișoara, dates since the 15th century and is a multicultural village, hosting many ethnical minorities. Despite having a full program and a tight schedule, participants had free time for themselves every day right after lunch and some before dinner. Free time was usually spent in national groups but also in mixed groups so that participants have interacted and had fun all together, sharing experiences, making fun memories and creating new friendships. Free time was spent visiting cultural landmarks, discovering the village and the city, partying, learning how to dance or playing board games.
The Erasmus+ Programme promotes the use of Youthpass as a certificate to validate the competences acquired by the participants during their experiences abroad. Our project made use of the Youthpass and every participant was handed his own at the end of the mobility.
We had an awarding session in which every participant received his Youthpass and took a photo to remember the moment. Also, important to mention is that before handing out the certificates, a session was organized in which the certificate and the key competences were presented as well as how it should be filled by the participants.