A wise sage was once asked about the single most important thing that he knows for certain can change the world for the better. He paused and answered in his next breath. Can you give a guess what his answer might be? Might it be Love? Riches? Power? Superpowers? What would you answer, and how will you share your thoughts to 100 people listening to your ideas on that most significant thing that can make the world a better place? What was the wise sage’s answer? He replied: If we know how to communicate effectively to one another, our world will be infinitely better.
Many young people have great ideas and they are ambitious enough to shape the world, but they are not great public speakers. In this project, we brought together 48 participants from Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Estonia, Greece and Serbia. In just 8 days, everyone made significant progress and increased their ability to speak in front of the crowds. Through interactive workshops and group exercises, each participant managed to take small incremental steps without being overwhelmed by social anxiety and fear.
We are truly happy that this event went so well that many of the participants want to carry out their own projects in the future. In fact, the skills that we have developed through Erasmus+ projects were the main motivators for us to make this youth exchange happen.
Effective communication can make all the difference in any persons life. Our goal was to enable the participants to share their own ideas, hold effective debates and empower others. We still remembered how we were too shy to step in front of others, so with greater sense of empathy, we helped others open up and overcome their fear of public speaking.
Disinformation is hitting people from all angles. This is why it’s especially important for people to have the necessary skills to filter information, select appropriate sources and use critical thinking in order to navigate the online world. In this project we also carried out workshops where the participants could increase their ability to spot manipulation and counter its negative effects.
Even though public speaking and critical thinking topics could have easily filled the entire schedule, we also touched the topic of inclusion. Youth inactivity, gender inequality and minority inclusion are some of the topics that made their way into the program. By carrying out this project, we also improved our own ability to work with participants with fewer opportunities so that our future projects could be more inclusive.
We kept everything fun and interactive, no boring lectures or too much theoretical knowledge. Public speaking is best improved when you get to practice it in a safe environment and analyze your own development. We used non-formal methods in all of the workshops and that made the experience more diverse and interesting. Who would have thought that theatre and improvisation were such great ways to improve your ability to speak in front of others?
Naturally, many of the participants were not great public speakers. Some of them were rather shy even. Yet all of the exercises were completed in small groups, nobody was forced to be alone in front of the large crowds. Slowly but surely, the groups became smaller and the audience bigger, which ensured that there is always enough of a challenge, but not too much of it. Completing tasks in international groups enabled the participants to become better team players and significantly improved their communication skills.
To really make the new skills stick, we incorporated plenty of reflection and evaluation sessions into the program. Each participant was following their personal development path and had to ‘learn to learn’. We used tools such as the YouthPass certificate which helped the participants highlight what they had learned during the activities.
Ah, of course we we had a social program. This project had some of the coolest cultural evenings ever. The rule of no touristic videos has really made a big impact on the events as people put more effort and creativity into their cultural program. Games, dances and more, everything was used in order to highlight the different nationalities that came together to this youth exchange.
But to balance all of the craziness of the cultural evenings, we also had several evenings of sauna, cozy movie nights and hiking. The pristine nature around the venue was truly amazing and offered some of the most beautiful scenery.
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.