Have you experienced moments that look as from the book “Alice in Wonderland” when Alice asked the Cat: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”. As Alice did not have specific goal, Cat responded that then it doesn’t matter which way she would go. As her goal was just to get somewhere, the Cat added: “Oh, you’re sure to do that, if you only walk long enough.”
If we look from coaching perspective, Tim Gallwey summarizes this approach as “awareness of where you are now is not enough to bring about the change; you have to know where you want to get to”. He understood the importance and advantage of enabling people to learn about themselves and noticed that youngsters performed better when they were taught how to learn rather than how to hit a ball. As Michael Jackson said, in the famous song
“Man in the mirror”: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then Make a change!”.
– SPOILER ALERT –
It’s highly possible that after reading this article, you will feel the need to
MAKE A CHANGE
(for yourself and for others too!)
(experience of Make a Change project in Ukraine)
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE CHANGE?
To make the change possible you need to be in the first line. To be in the first line you need to prepare yourself. To prepare yourself you need to experience something that you didn’t know before. To experience something new, you need to share your life and compare it with other people’s life. To meet new people, share new things, learn about foreigners’ traditions, and above all live a completely life-changing experience that will leave the mark on your skin forever, you just need to join a Youth Exchange.
HOW CAN A SIMPLE YOUTH EXCHANGE BE SO POWERFUL AND LIFE-CHANGING?
Maybe you already know what non-formal education is: a structured learning which does not either have the level of curriculum, syllabys, accreditation and certification associated with formal learning, but have more structure than that associated with informal learning, which typically take place naturally and spontaneously as part of other activities.
“Before arriving i was expecting long sessions, difficult topics and daunting tasks. But the way we spent time together, the way we used non-formal education mixed with our own thoughts and experience, made me change my view of the project, which greatly exceeded my expectations. ‘What does it mean to ‘make a change’? Personally, I think it means to do all we can to help someone.” Maria K., from Ukraine
HOW DO YOU MAKE ALMOST 40 YOUTHS GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER AND GET OVER ANY EMOTIONAL BARRIER AND OBSTACLE?
Although it may seem very difficult, you just need to put them in a friendly controlled environment with a few simple rules: a youth exchange is a safe place where there’s no judgements, where failing is required to succeed, where you have to be an active participant in the daily life of the project, where you have to act here and now, being responsible and respectful, and you have time to reflect on what you learned during the day.
“We accomplished to do many tasks with our eyes closed, but not to turn a blind eye to the things happening around us; not to be indifferent and try to make a change even it is a very little change.” Zeinab A. A., from U.K.
HOW DO YOU LEARN TO FACE TRADITIONS AND MANNERS THAT YOU DON’T KNOW (OR YOU’RE NOT FAMILIAR WITH)?
It’s not always easy to get in touch with people from different nationalities: a lot of times you will have to face some traditions you’re maybe not comfortable with or used to, or that you just don’t know yet. What if you meet the people from a country named “Derdia”, with its own traditions and rules? What if they don’t behave like you expected them to? How do you react? Will you be respectful and be open to learn something completely new? Everyone is different, but also equal to the others. We have diversities, minorities and differences, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to be tolerant, accepting and willing to
“At first, when I met the people here, I only knew where they came from. But when the project ended, I saw no flag: no nations, no countries, just people. We were all different but equal and friends like seven years had passed. At the end, this experience marked a turning point in my life. It will change me forever and the people I met here will stay in my memories for a long time.” Firat D., from Turkey
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE FIRST STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE?
Maybe, if you live in a comfortable city and you move around using nice public transportation or cars, the words “Hey, let’s go for a 10+ kilometres hike in the forest at night!” may scare you a bit. Maybe you usually don’t walk that distance, especially in a forest, especially at night. Why would you choose to push yourself like that and join your new friends in something unusual that you probably have never done before? Because why not, that’s why!
If this was your answer when you were reading the question, then that’s the spirit! The best way to push yourself and understand your real limits is to try something new, that maybe you’ve never even thought you could do. Always remember that you are in a safe space and you can only improve. If stepping out of your comfort zones isn’t enough and you want to add some challenge, you can also add something emotionally powerful to the equation, like a “role-play” game during the hike. In the “Make a Change” project, the participants chose to take on the role of Syrian refugees crossing the border to Spain. They played various characters, like a pregnant woman who lost her house during a war, a blind person, high and low society members, etc.
“Make a Change” helped me go outside of my comfort zone. I was plunged into different tasks of different complexity: night hiking as refugees from Syria to Spain; making a performance about discrimination only with the help of papers and in complete silence, shooting videos as drama, action, romance and a lot of other creative tasks. Maria M., from Belarus
HOW DO YOU BRING THE CHANGE IN YOUR SOCIETY?
How do you bring the change? How do you make the people around you aware of something? One of the most common and appreciated ways to do it is art. Through art you can express yourself and your belief, and also let your message get to the audience. What about some theatre? Do you know what “Forum Theatre” is? It’s a type of theatre that lets the audience influence and engage with the performance as both spectators and actors, with the power to stop and change the performance. The issues dealt with in forum theatre are often related to areas of social justice with aims to explore solutions to oppression featured in the performance. All the performances that the participants prepared were inspired by real-life experiences of discrimination. It was beautiful to see how people from the audience brought solutions to the original problems: the participants managed to change a situation that seemed very difficult at the beginning. You need optimistic thinking people to make a change, starting from the small things! How would you stop a bully from bothering someone at school?
“It was beautiful to see how everyone tried to solve different kind of problems and how everyone had different perspectives and different solutions for every situation. Maybe your solution to a problem is not the best one in that moment and you need to share and confront your ideas with other people and cultures.” Knarik K., from Armenia
HOW DO YOU PRACTICALLY MAKE THE FIRST EASIEST CHANGE:
What’s the easiest change that you can provide when you’re finally energized and ready to make something useful? Do you need to solve world hunger or find a way to stop all wars?
Although every single human being in the world would cheer at you for a considerable amount of time if you just snapped your fingers and managed to do one of the previous changes, the first easiest change you could make right now is to spread the word! A lot of people still don’t know about Erasmus+ initiatives (maybe you still don’t know!). When a group of students from the Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University came to the project venue to learn about Erasmus+ activities, they had the warmest welcoming ever by the participants, who prepared a short presentation about Erasmus+: what it is, what it does, for whom it’s destined. Do you know about all the Erasmus+ activities? You should check them out right now: if you want to start making a change, your best option is to start by joining a project organized by people that are already bringing the change abroad!
“It was very nice to see youths from the local university joining the program even for one single day, getting welcomed by strangers and feeling included. They had the opportunity to join open space activities and learn and witness with their eyes the endless possibilities that Erasmus+ gives to youths that would like to study abroad or just live a wonderful and life-changing experience, like a youth exchange.” Marco B., from Italy
HOW DO YOU START CHANGING?
There are times when you feel your life is changing and you don’t actually know why. There are times when you feel things growing in you and you can’t understand them. But there are also times when you choose to change, when you wake up one day and you say “this is the day!”. You don’t need to solve world hunger today. You don’t need to do anything gigantic to prove that you can make a change. You just start from the little things around you. Fight against discrimination! You just need to stand up against any form of violence. Maybe one can’t make a real difference in the world, but can give the example to the others. And if everyone stands up, it all becomes easier. Be the first to make a change.
Be the first to believe in yourself and in the power that you have. We already started to make a change. Now it’s your turn to join us!
“I’ve learnt to take all the best from life. Of course, it comes with hard work, failure, insecurities, a lot of sleepless nights, searching for meaning, searching for purpose, deep self-talks, rejection, illness, lack of money, lack of comfort. Career or love? Family or friends? Trust your gut or go safe? I’ve gone through all of this crap and more. But perhaps because my magic power is my pathological optimism, I never gave up. I just couldn’t. Because I love life so much! And I’m not saying I’m the world’s most positive person who doesn’t care or who’s just artificially practicing positivism. No. I just realize I own the most powerful and capable magic and that’s ME. I’ve learnt to take responsibility for my actions, my decisions, my choices. And as much as it sucks to say ‘Yes, that’s my mistake and it’s my fault that right now I feel shit’, as glorious it is to stand up and realize ‘Oh, I did it, I fuckin’ did it and I’m so proud of myself’. Life is not a one thing. Every person is life. Every life is a unique signature. Choose your signature wisely and remember that the best things you get from life is when you really, unquestionably, unconditionally accept and love yourself: not in a selfish way, but in a way you see yourself as a part of humanity, of a family. Because that’s the love that makes changes and creates magic.” Paylun A., from Armenia
P.S. Did you know there’s another “Make a Change” program, phase #2 in UK in the end of January 2020?
Check it out ;)