Turkish experience: How impactful is the Erasmus Plus for young people?
Erasmus Plus programs offer a variety of options for many different nationalities. Especially young people benefit from a bunch of formal or non-formal educational trainings, internship opportunities, short term or long term exchange programs, and so on. In June 2022, I attended a training course named “Rural Rocks!” in Osijek, Croatia. In this article, I will be sharing my experiences during that training.
“Rural Rocks!” training course was organized and launched under Erasmus Plus Programs, as well. The training brought 31 participants from 8 countries, which are Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Romania, Hungary, Greece and Poland. The participants had different backgrounds and professional experiences. For instance, there had been youth workers, students, teachers, project managers, academics, social workers, etc.
During these 6 days, the whole schedule was extremely intense, so each day we have learnt a lot of things. As the nationalities were extremely diverse, one of the first things we had done was learning how to say basic words and phrases in each native language. To get know each other, we did a lot activities such as drawing each other’s pictures collectively, then writing down comments about each other at the first glance. On the first day, we also set and agreed on group rules all together.
The trainers taught us about useful tools that we can utilize in our youth work activities. Moreover, as the training course was focusing on opportunities/challenges in rural areas, trainers and participants made a long comparison between rural versus urban, in terms of the differences and similarities. In the following days, the educators also spoke of the importance of entrepreneurship.
New country, new friends, new knowledge
During most of the time of the training, we were based in the hotel, but we had some outdoor activities, as well. For example, in small groups, we walked in the town to do interview with the locals about Croatia, local food, job opportunities in Osijek and its rural areas, etc. One of the most unforgettable activities, however, was the day we met with Croatian sculpture Nikola Faller at the Reart Event, where we actually learnt from him how to make artworks with straw. Before wrapping up our training course, we visited a rural area called Batina to meet with locals, chat with them about their life in rural, then we went on a hiking and afterwards we were kayaking on the soothing waters of the Danube River.
What is more, in the evenings, we had some cultural activities. We organized a wonderful Bachata dancing event, intercultural night with delicious local foods and drinks of participating countries and a karaoke night with full of fun. Also, one night locals of Osijek visited us to introduce their cultural aspects and taught us their traditional folklore dances. Hence, apart from the training, we also did a lot of cultural activities, where we learnt about various different cultures. At the end of the “Rural Rocks!” training course, we all received our Youth Pass certificates.
All in all, based on my own experiences, I should mention that Erasmus Plus trainings offer people a lot of non-formal and cultural knowledge. Besides that, these trainings provide meetings with new people from various countries and knowledge about different cultural patterns. Networking opportunities also arise in such trainings, which is a great way to build partnerships for youth workers in the upcoming projects. The participants of these training courses return home with a huge knowledge, new international friends, happy time abroad and a smiling face.