The mobility within the framework of Youth Leadership Academy took place between 16 – 24 January 2019 in Timisoara, situated in the Timis county, in the western part of Romania.
42 youngsters from 5 countries (Romania, Italy, Norway, Croatia and Bulgaria) participated throughout the nine days of workshops based on non-formal education methodologies.
The participants were accommodated in the “Triple F Residence” three-star Youth Hotel, as close as possible to where the workshops were being held.
The activities were carried out in the same building as the Youth Hotel, more specifically inside the Timisoara Youth House.
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.
In the first day of the mobility’s activities, the organizers opened the Youth Exchange program with a few words. Participants presented themselves briefly, their sending organizations and the countries from which they came from. After presenting the project, from the perspective of sharing and active involvement of the participants, the organizers have confronted on the agenda of the project, the planned activities and the specific tasks assigned to be implemented by the participants. The participants have also been told about the auto-evaluation process which were carried daily and given informations about the Youthpass Certificate, a recognizing tool to acknowledge all of the skills and competences achieved during the mobility. The participants were also split into pairs of 2, using the “Learning Buddy” method to get a better grasp on the subjects addressed during the week and to encourage cooperation and interculturality between the participants.
We had icebreaking activities, get to know each other name games, introduction to the secret friend activity and to the daily evaluation activity. At the end of the first day, the participants were already taken in a guided tour within the city, for a sightseeing of the cultural and historical landmarks of Timisoara.
The second day of activities started out with a basic but very important activity that stretched during the first part of the day: understanding leadership. Each participant was asked about his personal and unfiltered opinion about the meaning of leadership and what do they think a leader’s qualities are and how can they be developed. Because we promote the European Union’s system of values, one of the activities consisted in identifiying European leadership models in non-profit organizations, politics and business and present them in front of the others, thus entering more deeply into the theme and encouraging the participants into public speaking and talking freely in front of the others.
Following the next few days of the mobility, the participants had a chance to dive more deeply into the subject and learn about EU institutions, EU leaders, how to speak or address someone during a negotiation and how to write and accomplish an action plan or a project meant to integrate less advantaged or peripheric communities into society. By broadening the area of learning around the concept of “leadership”, the participants got a better grasp of the subject and gained competences in all connected themes maximizing the level of learning possible during the time of the mobility.
A very important thing to do with the participants was offering them an experience as close to the real life as possible. As such, they participated in a simulation of negotiation between the Council of Ministers, European Parliament and European Comission, having roles distributed amongst themselves, making the activity a fun and pleasurable learning experience of a real life situation.
During the next few days, the participants met with various leaders from the local community to learn from them and see them act as leaders, and also took part in workshops and a Treasure Hunt in which they discovered European Leaders and the values which they represent and in which they believe.
Another very important workshop was one on public speaking and communication. Being a very useful skill for a leader, the participants learned to make the difference between an efficient communication and a good speech and between a simple communication and a flawless speech. During the workshop, multiple speeches from different fields were presented, from which the youngsters had to identify the main characteristics in teams. In return, they had to find themselves an example of a good speech and a bad speech and present them in front of the others, so everyone could identify in the end the characteristics of a good speech, specific to a leader.
In the last days, the participants had already discovered another side of leadership: through impersonation, techniques of communication and a broader knowledge of EU institutional network, they were finally split in groups of 7 and were asked to pick a case study and, following the steps of a project (a know-how learned in the previous days of the project), create a plan of action which they also had to presented and be as convincing in front of the others by using the skills and competences achieved during the week.
The time of evaluation is very important to monitor the level of satisfaction and participation in the activities of the group. Thus, at the end of each day there was a moment of reflection in pairs or in groups of three in order to comment, reflect and to exchange feedback.
At the end of each day, using the Learning Buddy system, each pair had to reflect on the process of learning which took place on the same day, to absorb the information better without missing any details. An important moment was the final evaluation that took place throughout two activities: as a group and individually. In group they discussed what they learned and everyone had to choose only one word to describe the mobility and explain why. Individually, each one reflected in silence trying to think of everything that happened during the mobility.
Participants also provided feedback regarding the overall project, and afterwards they were handed diplomas from the organizers to demonstrate that they attended the project and they were also given Youthpass Certificates. The participants, throughout the activities of the self-assessment ‘learning diary’ have been able to reflect and write down the competences which they have acquired.
During the mobility, the participants got the chance to visit INCUBOXX – the Regional Infrastracture for Business and Innovation in the ICT Sector. Basically, the building is an incubator for IT StartUps.
Here they met with Vlad Icleanu, former administrator of INCUBOXX, former and actual president of various organizations in the field of debating, education and business. Vlad is engaged in multiple educational programs for young entrepreneurs and was kind enough to share with us a part of his vast experience in the field, by facilitating a workshop and explaining to the participants from a different perspective the concept of leadership and what does it mean exactly to lead and being a leader in real situations with lots of external factors.
Starting from the second day, right after dinner, the participants from each country have organized a multicultural event in which they shared their cultural particularities, have brought food, drinks and sweets specific to their home regions, but also had a short presentation about their countries, teached the others songs or dances or involved everyone in a fun quiz!
Each day a country had its turn to present itself, the participants having their own table with national flags organized the way they like it to make it more appealing to the others.
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.
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.