Many young people feel like their actions do not matter. The world is changing at a very fast pace and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To address these issues, our project aimed to raise awareness about the topic of social entrepreneurship. By providing ways to explore how to create companies that help solve problems around us, we wanted to promote the sense of initiative in our participants. The project brought together an exciting international community with 49 people from Sweden, Estonia, Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Serbia and Italy. Each national group could present the challenges which they face back in their local communities and gain new ideas from others.
We chose the perfect place for this project as the weather was still pleasantly warm in early autumn, somewhat unusual for Estonia. Each participant had their own cosy sleeping room and the venue was filled with beautiful wooden structures. Even though the exchange itself was packed with fun activities, you could also just walk around in nature and forget about the hectic city life.
Participants became even more united than we expected. Even though we always try to do our best to create the perfect youth exchange experience, we never really know what kind of people we will end up with. Nevertheless, the setting was perfect for learning about the topic of this project and to make new friends at the same time.
It’s typical to see business and entrepreneurship as a tool for making money. We wanted to discover how these can be used for positive social changes at the same time. Along the way, we discovered ways in which businesses can create products and services that are good for people and the society. Sustainability has become more important than ever and the world needs the next generation of entrepreneurs who care about more than just the profit margin.
Initiative and persistence are some of the most important key components for success. It’s nearly impossible to be really good at something right away and it’s important to keep trying anyway. Active citizenship was certainly one very important part of this project and the youth exchange enabled each person to become a leader if they wanted to step out of their comfort zone. The program was a collaborative experience where each person could facilitate certain activities. Less experienced participants carried out easier games, while more experienced ones took the lead with bigger workshops.
We have always seen entrepreneurship as one of the ways to make our own destiny. That’s why it’s also a potential tool for combating social issues like unemployment. Youth unemployment is a serious problem in many countries and we encouraged people to take advantage of their own talents. This enabled the participants to shape their own job and find ways to improve their lives.
We love to make our projects as interactive as possible. Each youth exchange is somewhat unique because the participants themselves have a lot of possibilities to shape the program. Workshops grow out of our personal interests and professional background. In this event, we worked on innovative business ideas which would have a positive impact on the world. This was complemented with sessions about public speaking, teamwork, marketing, strategic planning and more.
We created the perfect environment for the participants to work together and become stronger team players. Many of the challenges required them to be creative and there were no singular solutions to different problems. Creativity and teamwork were also involved when they needed to present something through methods such as theatre. Between the activities, we had quite a few challenges, ever tried building a tower just out of 20 pieces of spaghetti?
At the end of the day it was also important to reflect and evaluate what you’ve learned. Participants got together in small groups to discuss how they felt about the activities, what went well and what could have been better. The feedback that we received was put to use from the next day to further improve the program and make sure that the activities matched with the interests of the participants.
Finnish sauna, smoke sauna, cultural evenings, games, parties, hiking and more. Each day had something amazing going on and we balanced the serious topics with less serious ones. We have noticed how people are more active during the workshops when there’s also a strong social program. This makes the exchange even more fun and truly unites people into one group.
The environment itself was already enough to leave a mark, but the friendly competitions and other activities surely made the whole project more memorable.
Get a glimpse of what this youth exchange looked like. Erasmus+ projects are an amazing opportunity to make new friends, learn about new topics and simply discover who you really are. It might all sound too good to be true, but the only way to find out is to experience it yourself.
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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission Erasmus+ programme. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.