We’re going to the Change!
From 28th of January to 6 of February 2020 more than 40 youngsters from UK, Italy, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus gathered together to attend the Youth Exchange “Make a Change #2”, set in the magical Isle of Wight in UK, just few months after the first part in Ukraine, about which you can read here.
The most important aim is trying to bring out the best part of participants to become the CHANGE that everyone wants in the society. The name of the project is related to Michael Jackson song that encouraged millions of people and now it will encourage this group:
“If you want to make the world a better place/ Take a look at yourself, and then make a change”.
During the first day the all participants from UK, Italy, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus had the opportunity to meet and get to know each other in the dinner time. In the next days they will be confronting with prejudice, discrimination, responsibilities and questions about themselves. What a wonderful start! We want be the change!
In a changing soul’s diary – who are we?
The first day of the “MAKE A CHANGE #2” was full of uncertainties, meeting new people from different countries, living abroad for more than a week was just one of many fears that must have floated in the heads of everyone. But those feelings of unease were broken by facilitators when they introduced the program and the participants knew that they will enjoy themselves here. After that the participants got to feel like James Bond when they were faced with difficult challenges that had to be completed. By doing the activities people not only did something that they usually would not, but also made connections with each other and the entire project group. To top it off everyone sang “Man in the mirror” by Michael Jackson that encapsulates the main idea of this project – be the change that you want to see in the world. In the evening all of the participants sat around in a circle and tried to convey their feeling through movements and sounds rather than the more conventional verbal way. By doing that they understood that it is possible to share your feelings with each other without words but ultimately emotions are different to each of them and it is up to each of us to interpret them.
WHO AM I?
Day two was meant for discussing the differences between participants and what ‘consequences’ those differences might carry with them. During this day, one of the sessions was focused on privileges and disadvantages that some people have and others don’t. The participants saw those differences by getting a role of a person that might have a completely different life than them. They saw that while we think that everyone is born equal that is not true at all. Every person is different and everyone has different possibilities that others might not have. Even the possibility to participate in this project is not something everyone has. After that the participants had an open discussion about what each of them felt during the activity. They discussed about how certain people might be discriminated in one cultured but wouldn’t be in another.
HIKING: TIME OF CHALLENGES
All the participants were eagerly waiting for this day to begin. Before the participants went out they had prepared their sandwiches to take with them as the day promised to be long and full of activities relating to responsibility, taking risks and challenges and also coping with obstacles emerged on their way. The team-leaders took big responsibility of caring for each participant and making sure they wouldn’t get lost or something bad wouldn’t happen that day.
They started their hike with their buddies discussing questions about love and happiness and what they meant to them, how to reveal the formula of true happiness. As we mentioned before the day was full of challenges. The participants had to cross over a very high rope called “magical rope” hung between two trees in the middle of the forest and they were not allowed to pass under the rope, from the sides of it or just prevent it. They had to find a creative way of passing it above. Many took the risk climbing the trees, many were afraid, many were always thinking about other ways of accomplishing the mission.
During the day the weather was not so satisfying. The participants had to struggle with the wind to reach the destination, but when they overcame the challenge and saw the mesmerising beauty of the nature, they forgot their “struggle” and enjoyed the moment. The most exciting part of the day was going to the Neddles where the rough waves of the sea were carried away by our visit and participants lost their mind by witnessing the beauty of the ocean.
In the second part of the day the participants were ready to return to the hostel, but there was another challenge anticipating them. They had to implement Silent walk, meaning they were not allowed to speak throughout the hike back, they were not allowed to listen to music and use their phones and they were also given deep questions about life which could reveal their inner selves. Many enjoyed that part of the activity the most as they were able to enjoy the melody of the nature mixed with their thoughts and newly born ideas. They lived that moment. During the silent walk 8 people “got lost” and team leaders had planned this long before to see the reactions of other participants, how would they deal with this situation, what impact would this have on them? Although the participants were really tired and dirty after the hike but they really enjoyed the day and valuable moments spent together.
TIME TO ACT
On the fourth day of the youth Exchange “Make a Change” Zach, a participant of the project, lead a workshop about the phenomenon of bullying: what it is, how to fight it, how to understand it. After all, everyone in the world has been bullied and has bullied, even without knowing it. It’s interesting to discover how the same problem is being dealt with in different countries, but everyone can be the first one to make the first step and make a change in their personal communities.
In the afternoon the participants enjoyed a Theatre Improvisation to talk about some situations of discrimination: Forum Theatre, a type of theatre under the umbrella term of “Theatre of the Oppressed”; the spectators actually join the actors and change the outcome of the play, which is often related to areas of social justice and oppression. The participants divided in national groups and presented a scene inspired by problems that they actually experienced in their country. It was beautiful to see how the audience reacted to the problem and tried to find some new solutions to them. Cultural differences for the win!
WHAT’S THE LIMIT?
Day five started with some very exciting news: the participants were told they would have had a very “funny game to relax” during the day. They were divided into three teams by picking a random card. The rules were simple and the judges motivated the participants to build up some team spirit. The game was all about fair play and having fun! But little did they know… As the game started, all the participants were trying to play in their teams and to get as many points as possible. Yet, some rounds later the teams started to notice something wasn’t completely right. The judges seemed a bit corrupted, as they kept dividing the points in an unfair way. In the end, while the judges were trying hard to increase the tension between the teams, the participants united and came to a mutual agreement to protest against the corrupted judges. This game was inspired by a social experiment where you could observe the reactions and emotions of people when they are facing discrimination or they see someone being discriminated. Harut, one of the jury members, shared his emotions about the activity, saying that it was very interesting to observe people reactions when the judges were making unfair decisions.
The activity reminded many situations in life when you feel that you are being treated unfairly but you have no power and authority to change the situation. After the game, the participants spent their time reflecting and sharing impressions about the game. The participants ended the day with a workshop where they developed their creativity skills through combining different kinds of art, such as painting, music and poetry.
CITY QUIZ WITH THE LOCALS
On day six, the participants were told about the task of the day: interacting with the locals with a city quiz! Before going out to the city, the participants received assignments that seemed unreal at first, like making selfies with a unicorn, driving a tractor, riding a horse, hugging a sheep, dressing up in traditional costumes, and interact with the locals in so many different ways.
The participants divided into groups and started to enjoy the city doing the exercises which were written on the piece of paper. They visited charity shops, tasted local food, took (actual) pictures with (not so actual) unicorns, danced with locals, drank coffee or famous English tea. When participants came back to the hostel they were full of emotions from the city quiz! What a nice way to share the Erasmus+ projects to the locals.
OPEN SPACE ACTIVITIES
During the seventh day the participants had an Open Space Program, which is a space for every participant to propose, organize and lead any kind of activity that they considered to be fit. The participants organized and led themselves some activities, like an open discussion on the “Abigail’s story” to reflect about the emotions that the different characters brought out for each different participant: in fact, the ones who listened the story drew their own scale of values and discussed with the others about personal priorities and point of view. Then again, the participants organized a traditional dances workshop, a workshop on on “black history” and a discussion about problem solving methods.
In the afternoon, Harut from Armenia led a wonderful workshop on Advertising and especially on how to make people get to know and share about a problem that is most of the times underestimated or completely unknown.
ARE WE GONNA MAKE THE CHANGE?
After all these days together, nobody felt the same as when they first came. The participants experienced something wonderful and found some new friendships with people throughout all the world. But how to continue to grow and improve themselves to be the change in all their countries? The ideas and important methods that they learnt during the project will help them to approach life in a better way! Goodbyes are always sad, but nothing can stop the real change when it comes from within.