Erasmus+: ‘From Louti to Beauty’

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It all started with a project called “Youth Catalyst 2.0.” organised by a Czech organisation Brno Connected, led by Katka and Arianna, two trainers from Czech Republic and Italy.

It ended just after my birthday, so I got to have an incredible 23rd in a wonderful eco center an hour away from Prague called Louti. A truly magical place, away from any worries of the outside world, a small haven of sorts for those looking both for an escape, and also to better themselves in some way. Our way of bettering was by attending an E+ Training
Course, looking to become better trainers.

My Croatian team counted 4, Petra a youth worker from Zagreb, working in Ocean Znanja, Josipa a student, and a volunteer in Ocean Znanja, and Meli from association IKS, the earthquake affected area of Petrinja, working with young people. Not to forget myself, an aspiring trainer from Pula.

What did we learn?

First days were spent meeting each other, doing teambuilding activities, and going through the non formal methods that we both used and learned about simultaneously. We wrote down 3 goals we’d like to overcome during the training, 3 things that we want to improve as trainers. Next part was learning about the ways people learn, and how we can incorporate what we learned as trainers. In the end, we were split into groups of 3 to 4, and been given a task to create a workshop on a topic that’s necessary for someone’s journey to being a better trainer, lasting 1 hour.

My group was Petra and Veronika. We chose each other based on who we wanted to cooperate with, and I saw potential for me to learn something through them being polar opposites to me in both learning styles and ways of
approaching work. We also got along really well personally, so it ended up being a no brainer. Our topic was evaluation, so we created and implemented a workshop, then did the reflection, asked for feedback, and in the end evaluated it after the project.

Going through that process gave us a plethora of knowledge to implement in our own workshops, projects, and even everyday life.

After everyone’s workshops concluded, we wrapped up the project with evaluation, and one last day to say goodbye to the people that we grew so close to, yet may never see again. Such is the nature of life.

Besides the non-formal activities planned for us, we also took parts in numerous nature hikes, some of us swam in an ice cold lake, we played games, we shared meals, did housework, and just bonded with each other, 25 humans in an unknown environment for 10 days, where anything might happen. That for me is the beauty of projects, and of life itself.

Being a trainer

No matter our expectations, we cannot control what will happen, or what outcomes will things have. All we do have control over is our reactions to it. Being surrounded with strangers who you quickly grow close to, and shed tears soon after they’re gone, not having known of their existence 10 days ago, is truly magical. The bonds, the connections, some
might be very short, some might last a long time. You can never know, nor control such variables. It’s the same with being a trainer. What the project prepared us well for, is the sheer unpredictability of what might happen as a trainer, because anything and everything will happen, being put in that environment. We got thrown to the wolves so to speak, and clawed our way out. It is the only way to learn, and be even remotely ready for what being a
trainer brings, and for life itself.

If you’re looking for a new challenge, a way to meet people, if you want to explore a new topic, or maybe visit another country not as only a tourist, but to be part of a learning experience as a young person, I highly recommend E+ projects.

The amount of influence they’ve had on me is astounding, and I can safely say the people I’ve met, the places I’ve
visited, and the things I did shaped me as a person the most. It is unlike the real world, a place where you can truly focus on what you want to focus on, and where you can be yourself the most.

Ways you can apply can be found on Erasmus websites, or just ask your local NGO that is affiliated with Erasmus.

Rene Depetre