We will surely remember the year of 2020 as the one of COVID-19 pandemic, which changed our lives. These unusual times of our existence brought us at the same time – among others – some of the best youth exchanges in the history of the Youth Forum of Odorhei, which by the way celebrated in 2020 its 30 years of activity for the benefit of young generation living in Odorhei area… Happy birthday UFF and keep up the good work!
Unfortunately, we were unable to organize those projects when we were supposed to do so… The pandemic situation in Europe and the travel restrictions of authorities made all together a very difficult (let us say, impossible) task the organizing process of international youth mobility events. In this situation – having the support of our great partners from all over Europe – we decided to postpone all the youth exchanges of the Youth Forum.
Our philosophy regarding youth exchanges is very close to the traditional approach: if possible, we would like to avoid transforming activities for the online world… We think that the very essence of a youth mobility is the personal interaction and the close contact of the participants from several cultural backgrounds, which are of the utmost importance when you develop your project’s main purposes. As we see it, it is very hard (almost impossible) to transform youth exchanges to online platforms and reach the goals and objectives you were planning to achieve when you handed in the application in the first place…
We are strongly committed to organize the below described two exchanges as we planned to do so. However, the whole concept of the two youth mobility would have to suffer if we would consider changing (entirely or part of it) the programs for the online platforms… Therefore, we postponed them for a period of time, when our lives will be more predictable. At least we hope for that to come one day… This is not the situation we were expecting for, we are not happy at all, but the first concern in this matter has to be the health of our participants and alternatively the success of the exchanges!
We think that we can all agree that we are living some unusual times right now. To be able to predict the unpredictable and to organize our lives as NGO’s we have to be as flexible as we can and to hope for the best to come. You can read a description of our two extraordinary interesting youth exchanges in the coming sections.
The power of a #storyteller 2021
25th of August and 2nd of September 2021, Odorheiu Secuiesc/Székelyudvarhely
Youth facilitators and workers recognize the art of storytelling, as a non-formal educational tool for young people. Storytelling is an extremely easy set of methods to apply during mobility, young people can be easily engaged in the common learning process, because each one of us has a story (or even more) of its own, on which can share it and discuss it with others. Many aspects of stories are close to our daily lives, the way we think and understand the world around us: “each one of us is a story in itself …”. Storytelling is a powerful way of engaging young people and encouraging the acquisition of key competences, such as verbal and communication skills in their mother tongue or in a foreign language, imagination, creativity, intercultural and social understanding, etc. Although is appreciated, the storytelling method, as a form of development of the key skills of young people, it is unfortunately less used by the youth organizations in Europe.
The power of a #storyteller (#storyteller) aims to engage youth organizations in partnerships, which will provide them with positive direct experiences, examples of best practices, methods and tools that can be used to become more motivated when using storytelling as a form of learning for young people they work with. By conducting the #storyteller exchange, the Young Forum of Odorhei aims to encourage the use of storytelling by civil partner youth organizations as a non-formal learning method for adolescents. In this order, the aim of the #storyteller project is to involve the young participants of the mobility into a learning process based on storytelling methods, which will enrich their bag of key competences and the set of personal skills, which can be used in the context of the partners’ organizational development. The objective of the exchange learning activities is to create practical tools that can be used as best practice methods, which will contribute to supporting partners to use storytelling as a learning method for young people.
The activities of the #storyteller youth exchange program are essentially common to youth mobility and grouped around the set of learning methods of storytelling. Facilitators of the #storyteller exchange will use several of the following storytelling methods focused on developing more key youth skills: co-constructed-, shared-, unfinished-, zoom-, roleplayed-, analysed-, shrunken-, debriefed-, summarized- and prompted stories. The program is built in a balanced way, the activities allow the creative workshops, round tables and interactive debates, thematic presentations, simulations, role-playing games and reflection sessions on learning outcomes (both indoor and outdoor activities) to be combined with different other cultural-educational programs and recreational activities, where young people are beneficiaries and creators at the same time, creating frameworks for motivating thematic discussions, changing constructive ideas about various aspects of the existence of young people in Europe, including here topics related to multiculturalism, intercultural dialogue and the idea of Europeanism.
During the learning activities of the exchange there will be created an informative film related to the #storyteller program and a series of other short films with motivational messages from young people from several countries of Europe, which will present their own story and positive experiences related learning through storytelling. During the dissemination period, the participants will present these materials in local events to the teenagers from the entourage of the youth organizations, which form the present partnership.
The #storyteller exchange program will take place in Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania, between the 25th of August and the 02nd of September 2021. The participants of the exchange will come from Romania (the Young Forum of Odorhei, as a host), Croatia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Spain and Turkey, each aged between 18 and 28 years (except the leader), the final group being composed of 45 young people, each 5 (4 + 1 leader) on each side. The young participants (except the leader) come from areas where mobility programs have a lower impact, where marginalized young people, with a high risk of social exclusion, have limited access to international mobility, which aims at developing and enriching their key competences. Leaders will have a minimum of experience in international mobility and will have the ability to converse at least medium to English, thus contributing as interpreters to those young people who require language assistance for engaging in storytelling activities.
The learning activities of the #storyteller exchange will result in the development of a set of key skills of the young people that they will be able to use in the perspective of their personal development and of a professional career, benefiting from the results of their learning starting with increased chances for their self-affirmation. The skills gained and developed by young people in the fields of language skills, learning to learn, civic, interpersonal, intercultural and social, cultural expression, etc., will develop the character and self-confidence of adolescents. By going through the learning process, young people will become more expressive in their daily lives, they will have a more developed imagination and creativity, and they will communicate their thoughts and feelings in a more articulated way. Teens will become better, more active listeners, better able to focus on their daily activities, receive and respond more effectively to different new situations.
The expected impact on the nine partner bodies refers to the development of their organizational capacity to carry out international programs and mobility’s, which aim to support the learning process of young people through the storytelling method. The commitment of the partners to continue the development of youth exchange projects by launching new applications in the topic of storytelling will create the framework for an efficient valorisation of the experiences and knowledge gained and will gradually involve new organizations in international cooperation.
At the end of the exchange, a joint action plan of the partners will be drawn up that will allow the desired impact to be achieved. This will consist in planning a cycle of exchange projects, to be submitted in 2022 to agencies in the partner countries. The common point of these projects will be their theme, which is the use of storytelling as a form of developing young people’s capacities in a multicultural context. In this sense, all the experiences gained during the exchange in Odorhei, all the learning methods used and the non-formal activities carried out, all the materials created (visibility, the film of the activities and the individual ones of the young people, the The handbook of a #storyteller for cataloguing and structuring of the ones learned by the participants, the model of the project itself, etc.) will be made available to the partners of the Young Forum for use as good practices.
Re-Access City! 2022
30th of June and 8th of July 2022, Odorheiu Secuiesc/Székelyudvarhely
The purpose of the Re-Access City! project cycle is to generate a positive change on the level of accessibility regarding cities, institutions and public services in Europe. The objectives of the projects are to develop key skills, raise awareness and increase the empathy of young Europeans for the inclusion of people with disabilities, and their active involvement in joint efforts to improve the living conditions of people with disabilities in Europe. The specific objectives are to identify the problems of accessibility of cities, institutions and public services, and to develop useful tools (adaptable and usable as good practices for other European localities), which will effectively contribute to overcoming them by people with disabilities.
The main activities of the project are the creation of a Wheel Map for an Accessible City (on panels, transposed on an online platform and edited in print format) about the main points, institutions and buildings, respectively public services of Odorheiu Secuiesc, where access for people with disability is restricted in one way or another. Another activity is to make materials for a Re-Access City! guide (edited print and online), which will contain the methods of accessibility of roads, buildings and local public services proposed by young people. Participants will create also a film of activities, which will contain an appeal on accessibility sent to local communities and local and European decision-makers on the needs of disabled people. All the materials produced by the participants can be used as tools of good practice by other European NGO’s and local communities for similar initiatives.
The Re-Access City! 2022 exchange participants will be 45 (36 + 9 leaders) of young people (of which 18 with physical, hearing or visual disabilities) from the organizations Young Forum in Odorhei (as host), Esenler Ortopedik Engelliler Dernegi-Turkey, Meraki-Croatia, Asociacion Juvenil Intercambia-Spain, Collippo-Organização Juvenil-Portugal, KINITRO Amke-Greece, Ipazia-Italy, The Change is in You-Bulgaria and Stowarzyszenie Sztukater-Poland.
The main result of the projects is the realization of the set of good practices on accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities, which can be used as a useful tool by European local communities with a view to improving the living conditions of people with disabilities. Re-Access City! 2022 will have a direct impact on the 45 participants, who will benefit from increasing the level of knowledge in the field of accessibility, needs and rights of people with disabilities in Europe, young people being able to capitalize on their learning outcomes for the benefit of local communities in which are part. Supporting the activity of young people after completing their mobility and capitalizing on their learning will benefit the 9 partner organizations, which will develop their capacity to run information programs on accessibility, awareness of local communities related to the need to support the rights of people with disabilities.