WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE,
BUT WE HAVE COMMON TRAITS AND WE SHARE VERY SIMILAR HOPES AND OBJECTIVES
ALTOGETHER, WE MADE “UNITY IN DIVERSITY”
THE VENUE: LIEPAJA, 16-24/04/2016
Liepaja is a city located in western Latvia, on the Baltic Sea. With a population of about 72’000 inhabitants, it is the largest city in the country after Riga and Daugavpils.
It is known as “the city where the wind is born”, being renowed as the windiest city in Latvia, as confirmed by the presence of the largest wind power plant of the nation.
The Trade Channel, which connects the Sea to Liepaja Lake, divides the city into a northern part, known as the New Town, mainly having residential and industrial areas and a southern part, known as the Old Town, hosting the administrative and cultural buildings and the main leisure areas.
At the seaside, Jurmala Park, with a total area of about 70 ha, is one of the largest planted parks in Latvia.
For more information, please see http://www.liepaja.lv/page/22
Youth Exchange: Juvenile Non Formal Learning
Unity in Diversity was a Youth Exchange project funded by the EU Erasmus+ Programme (Italian, English). As reported in the Erasmus+ Programme Guide (Italian, English), “Youth Exchanges allow groups of young people from at least two different countries to meet and live together for up to 21 days. During a Youth Exchange, participants, supported by group leaders, jointly carry out a work programme (a mix of workshops, exercises, debates, role-plays, simulations, outdoor activities, etc.) designed and prepared by them before the Exchange. Youth Exchanges allow young people to: develop competences; become aware of socially relevant topics/thematic areas; discover new cultures, habits and life-styles, mainly through peer-learning; strengthen values like solidarity, democracy, friendship, etc. The learning process in Youth Exchanges is triggered by methods of non-formal education. The rather short duration makes the involvement of young people with fewer opportunities appropriate; as such a Youth Exchange offers an international mobility experience in the safety of a group with the possibility of having an adequate number of group leaders to take care of the participants.“
OUR ITALIAN TEAM
The Italian team was composed by five participants. Beatrice (Bea) and Davide from Pesaro, Carolina Maria Vittoria (Carol), Domenico (Dodo) and Mattia (Tia) from Fano. They are all members of Sentinelle dell’Energia. Moreover, Carol, Dodo and Tia are also members of Noi Giovani Fano juvenile association.
This is a photo taken at the Liepaja City Council. Together with the Italian team there is quite all the Romanian team. At the center of the group there is Natalja Vecvagare, External Affairs Coordinator at the Liepaja City Council. From the left, there are Davide, Carol, Dodo, Tia, Nataljia Vecvagare, Luana, Madalina, Gabriel and Bea.
Nataljia provided us a great presentation about Liepaja and its opportunities. Carol, Dodo and Tia noticed that Liepaja shares a lot of things in common with Fano and they manifested their interest for becoming sister cities and to collaborate each other.
PROJECT TIME ACTIVITIES
The activities took place throughout 7 days, from 17/04 to 23/04, 2016.
Hereunder, you can find a brief resume about all the performed activities!
DAY 1 – Knowing each other
As usual, the first day is devoted to better know each other, starting right from our respective names. Moreover, we knew the fears, expectations and needs from all the participants.
Adding to this, in Unity in Diversity we also had a presentation from the Romanian participant Delia, relating to the Eramus+ financing Programme.
Hereunder, you can find a more detailed description of the activities performed during the first day.
The “name game”. In order to quickly learn our names, we made one “name game”. We made a circle and each participant had the task to say her/his name and to make a gesture in order to characterize herself/himself. At each participant turn, the person had to tell the names and to repeat the gestures of all the participants who preceded her/him in the game. What else to say, funny and challenging!
“Two thruths, one lie”. In order to start to talk and to better know each other, we made this game. Each participant had to write two truths and one lie about herself/himself and then she/he had to talk with other participants trying to guess which was the lie and which were the truths. During the game, participants sharing one or more letter of the name had also to write them in a paper of the other paticipant. Nice and funny!
We also had another name game and an energizer, allowing to create the right atmosphere for the participants!
Fears, expectations and needs. The participants drew and cut from paper drawings of dresses, skirt and socks, inside which they wrote their fears, expectations and needs respectively. The facilitators from the project, Dusko and Kate from Sfera non profit organisation reported which about the main fears, expectations and needs from the participants.
MISSION (IM)POSSIBLE AND ERASMUS PLUS PROGRAMME
In the afternoon, the Makedonian participants organized the game “mission impossible!”. All the participants had to complete 13 specific tasks within 15 minutes! They comprised to make a group photo, to collect 20 different socks, to make name tags on the rooms, to dress one person in 20 shirts, to make the talles chair tower, to write a poem about the project, to write a motto of the project, to make a language board with useful phrases, to give everyone a hug and other similar challenging submissions! Finally, we worked in groups and then presented the three Key Actions of the Erasmus Plus Programme.
So, that’s the end of the first day, what a busy day!
Day 2 – Photos and Barter Game in Liepaja, Differences between cities, town and villages
That’s all for the second day! Let’s go to the third one!
Day 3 – Grassroots games and traditional dances from our Countries, First Intercultural Evening
During day 3 we started by presenting the games we played at the courtyard when we where young. Each Country proposed their own games and allowed all the participants to try them. Among the others, we played at “campanone”, finding that this is a common international game!
In the afternoon, participants then taught traditional dances from their own Countries, resulting in pleasant collective engagement in
group dances with traditional songs.
And… during dinner, we had our first intercultural evening.
That’s the evening when Countries present themselves, usually describing the most interesting places to visit, together with some particular aspects from their culture. And… after that, people share their own traditional food and drinks! The first intercultural evening was that of Latvia, Poland and Romania.
We have almost passed half of the project activitites, let’s go to the fourth day!
Day 4 – Exploring Towns and Villages near Liepaja, Second Intercultural Evening
In day 4 morning, we explored places near Liepaja, in order to visit small villages and natural places and to better understand the peculiarities of Latvian villages and how they differ from town and cities.
In the afternoon, then, Italian and Romanian teams had a meeting with the external affair coordinator of Liepaja city Council, who presented the most valuable and interesting places to visit in the city, described the events which take place during the year and highlighted the recent project aiming to promote energy efficiency and green mobility.
During day 4, there was also the second intercultural evening! This time, the involved Countries were Italy, Makedonia and Lithuania. Thanks to Dodo, we prepared really good dishes that were appreciated by all the other participants. Moreover, we offered sweets and some drinks like limoncino, that were really prized too!
So, we are approaching the end of the project. What about last three days? Let’s continue to read and discover it!
Day 5 – Visiting Karosta and Typical Dresses and Clothes from our Countries
During the morning, we visited Karosta, a Liepaja district in the northern part of the city, which “was constructed in 1890-1906 as a naval base for the Russian Tsar Alexander III, and later served as a base for the Soviet Baltic Fleet […] The base is of tactical importance due to its central location in the Baltic Sea and the fact that it does not ice over in winter. Built on the bare coast it consists of a large man-made harbour including a large breakwater and inland submarine warren. The army headquarters include czar-era mansions used by admirals, a palace for the czar (reportedly only used once), an impressive Russian Orthodox naval cathedral, as well as underground bunkers and abandoned storehouses. Soviet-era buildings include many rows of block housing. At its height Karosta was home to over 20,000 people.” (source wikipedia).
It was a beautiful experience, preparing the ground for one of the most creative activities of the project. Interested to know about it? Let’s have a look at what we did in the afternoon!
So, here we are with the afternoon activities. During day 5, we were engaged in the preparation of typical dresses and clothes from our countries, by simply using white and coloured paper, scissors, glue and colours! It was really a positive endeavour and the results were excellent! As Italian team, we decided to realize typical carnival clothes, since we did not have well known and peculiar dresses from our cities. In particular, Carol and Dodo were dressed like Pulcinella and Arlecchino respectively annd they were really nice!
Ater preparing the clothes, there was a parade and then each Country presented the story of the clothes they prepared. It was a very good experience!
This evening we did not have another intercultural evening, but we took a nice picture of the sweet cat of the hotel!
Day 6 – Cooking Recipes from our Countries and Visiting the local hospice
Oh, we are approaching the end of the project. But day 6 is going to give us new beatufil experiences! Indeed, during this day, the participants were first divided into mixed teams comprising people from different countries, and then were engaged in the preparation of typical dishes from Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and Makedonia. Also this time, we got excellent results! It was fantastic to cooperate together and to learn how to prepare new meals. Among the other, I personally participated in the preparation of the Polish pierogi. It was very good!
But the most pleasant activity was what we did in the afternoon after having prepared the dishes. Indeed, we went to the city hospice and we served the meals to the local elderly. We also sang with them traditional national songs from our countries. It was amazing to see how we could make other people so happy with just few things and by sharing our simple time and experiences!
Unfortunately, we do not have pictures from the hospice, but I can assure it was one of the most pleasant time of all the project!
Sixth day maybe was the most beautiful day among all the project, what a good experience!
Day 7 – Presenting the sending organisations and farewell party
So, finally we reached day 7, that is the last day. I won’t spend too much words, just to say that during this day we mainly presented our sending organisations and we tried to reason on how to organize the follow up activities and how to collaborate in future projects. I will not report too many pictures neither, just one as a resume from the activities.
During the evening, we had the final party and then we all prepared for leaving the next day.
We made a very nice job guys, thanks to all!
Conclusions and remarks from Davide of the Italian group
It was the first time for me as a youth leader of an Italian group. Accordingly, I met many difficulties in making sure that all the things went well. And this let me down a little bit. But at the same time, I am grateful to all the participants for the help, support or also lessons they gave me, the major one being that no matter what Country you come from, no matter what are your beliefs and cultural habits, there is always the possibility to create unity in diversity! 🙂