How was my ‘De calle en calle’ experience? It was absolutely unforgettable! I don’t know how to begin. First of all, I would like to thank the EO EO team. It was the first time that they organized this kind of project and to tell the truth they did a great job. The program of the project was full and every kind of activity was included. There were the ‘ice breakers’, the ‘energisers’, theoretical presentations combined with activities. The thing that I liked the most was that finally we had the chance to utilize the theoretical knowledge that we got, take initiatives, use our imagination, cooperate with so many different people and create a huge event at the only school of Canete de la Real. We became ,at least once, active community members, citizens. And actually that was what the project was about, to understand at first what a community is, then to become an active member of it, to cooperate with the other members, communicate your problems and finally find altogether a solution. That’s what we ,the nowadays subjects, lack of. We all just care about our OWN lives and we don’t waste a second in community development. However, it would be a lie if I told you that we become a community. The truth is that we became real friends, we cared of each other, we had inner communication of our deepest thoughts. Not only we spoke about our civilizations, but for our lives too! And the final point is that I realized that no matter your nationality, we all are just HUMEN!
October 2019, I just graduated from university and finished an Erasmus + project with my association ADEMI! Being a foreign student in France, I have now just one year to find a job if I want to stay in this country.
Sorry to disappoint you but this is not a story about my life. The point I want to make here is that I had many reasons to say no to another Erasmus plus project. When the opportunity to go to Malaga presented itself, my first thought was “This is not the right moment”, because I have to find a job, I have already done many other projects, how could this one be any different, right? But this happened to be, hands down, one of the best experiences in my life! Whether you are a veteran Erasmus + participant or a first-timer, you are not ready to jump from the lively city center of Malaga to the silence of the small village “Caneta La Real”, where people ONLY speak Spanish! The fact that we were a group of 40 peoples (participant + organizer) living together in this isolated place helped a lot to deal with the loneliness! While being this many have a lot of perks, it also had a lot of downsides.
First of all, from the point of view of the participants, it can feel really intimidating to see so many people and realize that you only have so few days to know them. That’s why I found that the first two days of the project were really well thought by the organizers! We mainly made activities to know each other and the best part is that it really worked! They were a really good synergy between the games: secret friend, killer, drawing, envelopes… Even the energizers were focused on the same goal: Make people know each other.
The second big problem is from the point of view of the organizer. For having done many projects and being a lot on the organization side, I am fully aware of the difficulties it can represent to manage such a big group. So many things can go wrong and it is practically impossible to keep track of everything. On top of that, the fact that we were in a small village for this project surely made things more difficult. And here again I have to congratulate the association EO EO for their amazing job at managing the group. I think it was really clever for them to also make the participants part of this by making a task each day for each country! They were also a really good group dynamic during the workshops!
Speaking of workshops, what I really liked (and many other participants) was we could not feel a hierarchy between the organizers and us. It felt more like really experienced participants were presenting to less experienced participants! That made the exchanges really smooth and everybody was actually open to suggestions.
If there is one thing that this project made me realize is that you don’t need to wait to have everything you need to decide to act today! It was clear to me this during the workshop with the kids at school in which we had a lot of autonomy to make/create the activities. Of course, not things will not go as excepted when you leave everything in the hands of the participants: some workshops were not completed, others made no sense, some frictions in groups, etc... But at the end of the end, we were able to make it work somehow! It was the best day of the project (after the visit of Ronda to course) even though everything was not perfect. Even the fact that the kids didn’t speak English was scary at first, but I found myself asking some of them, in Spanish, if they ever saw a black guy before in this village (the answer was no if you’re curious about it). The kids, the teachers, the games, everything about that day were really eye-opening.
All my doubts were swiped away since the very beginning of the project. On top of having a really good time, I learned a lot whether it be on a professional level for my association, or on a personal level with the impact I can have on my community and people around me.
I can’t think of any better sentence to summarize this project than “Don’t wait for the right moment”.
Well, this October I had the opportunity to travel to Spain for my first Erasmus+ exchange program. I have to say it was a really quick decision of my, but soooooo worthy. First things first, the topic of the exchange was social development and what we can do so that we improve ourselves and our communities we live. I was lucky enough because I had some experience, but the Spanish team were really great young volunteers and students of this topic so I learned way more things, than I previously knew. EO EO ….. OE The Spanish association was called “eo eo ” and thy were so energetic. Their fruitful knowledge was so interesting and their passion for the topic was something you could acknowledge from day 1! The project took place in a village close to Malaga called Canete la real witch was truly amazing and so peaceful. THE FIRST DAYS The first days were so lovely weird. I know its sound strange but that’s the truth. See in this project a learn how important is to get out of your comfort zone. Me being in a village in Spain with 35 people, which I have no idea who they are was a really amazing experiences. But the most amazing thing was that each and every of them were special and so interesting to meet(I get to that! ). SO back to the first days these days were more about team bonding ,learning the names of each other and some intros about the topic by the Spanish team. We set daily responsibilities for every country in the program and we paint the what played games The next days And there is where the best part of the program comes. When you start feeling comfort and meeting more and more people. Yes, that’s the part where you learning. You learn about the topic, you learning about the different lives of the others, you learn the (amazing) Spanish culture, BUT most importantly you learn things about yourself. So after some days, we had to organize a treasure hunt for the local school. DAMN it was amazing experience!! !VENGA SPARTA! As you can guess we nailed it! RONDA And after that an amazing trip to Ronda. Well not much to say about Ronda, it was simply AMAZING an authentic andalusian village, where you could see the amazing view of the mountains and the extraordinary bridge Personally, the biggest lesson I learned was that we have think outside of the box. Sometimes we stick to small problems and we don’t appreciate life and the people we are surrounded with. In this program I made friends, who I would never guessed they exist and memories I will never forget! EO EO OE
De Calle en calle project was an amazing experience for all of the participants.
We concentrated at social exclusion and via non formal education we managed to learn things about other cultures, social events and how to be team players. One important activity of the project was the one that we went to the local school of Canete la real and prepared activities for the children as face painting and hiking of the treasure. We enjoyed it so much due to the fact that we talked with the kids about the things that they are interested in and we had fun as well.
One important day was when a teacher came to our hotel and teached us about how to control better ourselves and how to feel the same with the others.
I really liked this specific project and it was special for me because I met people from totally different backgrounds, I made friends for a lifetime and I learned important things that will make me better in the future.
Super heroes…. They actually don’t have to have super powers. For instance, I met one of them in Spain. His eyes are so peaceful it makes me want to dumb all my stress and look at him. I can’t say that he is a Utopian pure person, he sure is a very normal one but he is so comfortable and comforting and when he talks everybody want to hear him. I can’t really say that he’s a cross dresser, mainly because I don’t really understand fashion but also because I don’t really care about define definitions like that. He sure dresses in a way that makes him feels comfortable and to me that’s really inspiring. He’s simply breaking fake old school definitions about the way everyone should dress or even behave. He’s an educator that promotes the concept of comfortableness where people should be comfortable being who they are and they should be comfortable dressing whatever they like to dress. Carlos, I really admire you, you are a super hero and you have a special place in my heart.
Having met this educator/super hero in Eoeo, I got to say, the content of the workshops, rich as is, did not really have the biggest influence during the time of the exchange program. The organizers, the participants had the biggest influence on me. So yeah, I had a secret killer that killed me in the great group hug incident of 2019. It was a sad day for everybody in the program. They didn’t plan a big funeral or anything though, it was not necessary. But I also had a secret friend who used to send me beer and food every night. That person (Markos) inspired me to go a step further and be much more kind to my secret friend.
I can go on and on about the content of the workshops, but the fact is what I learned from the people’s personal experience is much more. At some point, it felt like now we are a community, having so much fun, working as one and trying to induce that little piece of change for the young people in the school in Cañete la Real.
So, what did I learn? I can’t really get my hand on it, I’m not really sure. I can repeat some important notes that I wrote.
- Community development is not about working on your own theories about the needs of a community but it’s about working on their needs from their perspective
- engaging the as much members of the community in the process is very crucial to the success rate of the community development process.
- You cannot work on in development without developing a competent team that have sympathy towards the issues.
- Before building a team one should build oneself mentally and emotionally.
- I need to increase my hugging time from 3 to 6 seconds because that’s a good hug from a scientific point of view
- when managing a team, even if they are volunteers for social work, taking a break at some point is as important as doing the job itself.
Then again, what I learned outside the sessions from that mean artist Alba, her too organized sister, Kyranna with that special personality, the super hero Carlos, that Spanish photocopy of me Peke, Jelena, Tim, Sara, Ali, Marissa, Carmen, Fotini, Aggelos, Panos, Julius, Jonas, Rafal even young Iker, its just much much more in regards to community development and in regard to life. I look up to each and every one of them.
People are people and they are not perfect. But then again, to me, pure perfection lies those tiny details of imperfection
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