BEHIND THE YOUTH WORK – Austria, 3 – 10 July 2014

Daily reporting about a training about Inclusion

ARRIVAL DAY
When we arrived at the place that is hosting us in Deutschlandsberg I was shocked… Is this really the place for us? A very big structure in the middle of nature, with a hill and a castle just behind. I felt very far away from any kind of stress of normal life. And, trust me, my life is totally far away from being a stressful one!
People from Italy, Austria, Romania, Hungary, French Guyana, Lithuania, Slovenia and Bulgaria came here thanks to “Behind the youth work”: 15 participants plus 3 personal assistants taking part to a seminar with the aim to develop competences in social strategies for inclusion and to get to know the youth context in different parts of Europe.
By using a set of non-formal educational methods such as group work, role plays, exercises and trainee-led workshops, the participants are expected to improve their soft skills in intercultural team work and communication, and their understanding for the challenges young people face in Europe.

Going straight to the point..
..What is the main topic of the seminar?
We can sum it up in just a word:
“INCLUSION”

That, according to some partecipants, at the beginning of the project means for example: giving equal opportunity to people who don’t have accessibility to it; or removing barriers, breaking the stereotypes and accepting difference between people.

Behind the youth work Seminar July 2014
The arrival day wasn’t so full of activities, because all the participants just reached the place, some of them exhausted after the trip, and there is no time and no chance to drag them into any kind of activity, except some basic presentation after dinner.

DAY 1

Behind the youth work Seminar July 2014
On Friday, after a comfortable long sleep, we were ready to start! It was the “program presentation day”.  In my opinion, the most interesting thing was speaking about  “INCLUSION”, that is the keyword of the whole seminar. Everybody often talks about it, but what do we concretely do in order to remove the obstacles that can make people feel  excluded? In projects like this, where people with disabilities are also involved, it’s important to be effective. In that sense, the main idea focuses on removing physical and communicational barriers providing some guidelines that can help any youth or social worker interested in exploring this specific field.
We spoke about some general guidelines for every kind of group, but also about other points properly related to the topic of inclusion. I would like to mention some of them as examples.

  • How to use a flipchart if you have a group with one or more blind people?
  • You also need to have clear in mind that blind people perceive every kind of noise that they ear, differently from people who can see and thus focus on whom is talking. So, how does this change the group dynamics?
  • One more interesting point is related to body language. For disabled people, is this directly related to their feelings? Well, definitely  it is not! So, when you are involved in any kind of relation with them you should know it.

I found the difference between what you generally do and what you do when you want to include everyone into the program very much appropriate. The point is: sometimes people with normal abilities take for granted things that are not the same for everybody. So, better to learn how to put yourself in other people’s shoes!

Behind the youth work Seminar July 2014
“We partecipated at some projects together, and we know each other for10 years. It was love at first sight”. The Slovenian guys Besim and Aljaz joke about their friendship, but if you see them laughing and playing everywhere you have the feeling of something really pure and good. “We like to be part of this, because it is a way to have fun and find friends, and also to learn methods and tools”.

In the last part of the morning session we wanted to definitely break the ice, and for this purpose we created some small groups of work and everybody discussed about topics as:

  • expectations, fears and contributions
  • program and methods
  • definitions of youth work and inclusion
  • aim and objectives
  • informal conversations about getting to know each other

Behind the youth work Seminar July 2014

In the afternoon the focus was put in youthpass and learning. And people debated in a very dynamic way, like always with the non-formal education methodology.
They explored and experienced the 8 key competences in very active way and what I liked the most was the fact that they had to move from the seminar room to different areas (like the terrace or the lobby) to find the proper area where the competence was sticked on random walls.
I also had the chance to have a short conversation with Bogdan who funded the Law Student Association with other some guys from 21 to 30 years old:

“It’s my third project. The previous ones were in Albania and Serbia. I’m interested in understanding the concepts of youth work and social inclusion and I expect to gain some skills and insight to understand the point of view of people with fewer oppurtunities. My project for the future is to open a centre of lawyer advise and try to help them.”

Behind the youth work Seminar July 2014

And in the night there was intercultural event, that basically means: challenge your liver! You jump from super sweet food to salty things, from soft drinks to some homemade liquor that could ignite a space shuttle.
What I can never forget is:

  • Palinca liquor from Romania
  • Salami and homemade sweets called Pogacsa from Hungary
  • Figs Jam from Bulgaria
  • Lemon and vanilla marmalade with fried bananas from French Guyana
  • Gorenjica chocolate from Slovenia
  • Green nines liquor and apple cheese from Lithuania
  • Prosecco and taralli from Italy
  • Mozart chocolate balls from Austria

Behind the youth work Seminar July 2014

Well, after this menu we couldn’t go to sleep early! The atmosphere was really funny and we stayed in the seminar room chatting and laughing until late in the night. It was the best way to start a project!

P.S. This is me, the reporter busy reporting  😉 Behind the youth work Seminar July 2014

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