Hi everyone, welcome back to another “interview with …” and today we will have the pleasure of having our special guest: Igor Niemyski from ONG You in Europe. You in Europe has been our partner in some youth exchanges, as “Play with me and Learn from me” and “COMICS”. And in order to show you all the perspectives about youth exchanges and EVS, in this post you will be reading about the process of writing a project.
C: Let our readers know you a little bit better, and present yourself
I: Hello, my name is Igor and I am the brand new fresh member of the organization. I come from Poland. In May 2017 I participated in one of the youth exchanges organized by You in Europe. One year later I came again for 10 months EVS project and now I work in the organization as a mentor of EVS Volunteers. Moreover, I do some administrative work but I am still learning.
C: Can you explain a little bit about the organization, how it started, the concept behind it… and when you started to work in You in Europe, and what are you currently doing?
I: “You in Europe” is an NGO based in Greece. In the first place… Because “You in Europe” is a space for everyone who loves learning by doing and vice versa. And how we do it? By organizing activities and taking initiatives that promote active participation and life long learning.Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens, Creative Europe, are some of the European Programs that we participate. So far, more than 300 youngsters every year, have the opportunity to travel in Europe, learn, share experiences and good practices and broaden their horizons through the Youth Exchanges and Training Courses that we organize, always using the Non-Formal Education method.
More than 30 youngsters every year have the chance to offer volunteer services in European countries through the European Solidarity Corp platform, and change their lives, by getting out of their comfort zone, practicing new skills and contributing to the local society. At the same time, we host a group of volunteers to our hometown each year, in Nea Moudania. Thus we help participants to gain knowledge while they offer to the community. We believe that change starts from where you are. So we organize many local events that promote solidarity and give to our society an intercultural approach.
By developing a wide network of reliable and creative partnerships with more than 60 organizations around Europe, we reinforce the idea that together we can achieve more! Our aim is to promote values like solidarity, tolerance, mutual understanding, and active European Citizenship. We create the Europe we are dreaming of.
C: Did you participate in some youth exchange programs? Where and what was about?
I: Yes, this is what I have been doing since 2012 when I first participated in the training course in Armenia. This is partly how it’s started – partly because I have been surrounded by EVS volunteers since 2005 when I was 11. Training courses and youth exchanges, as well as the whole program of Erasmus+, is extremely addictive! The youth exchange which let me get to know with You in Europe was about creating musical instruments out of trash, rubbish, plastic and whatever we found on the street, beach… So far I have participated in more than 20 projects so it would take too much time to describe all of them but what I can surely say is that each project has its own spirit, team, beautiful moments and memories as well as a topic and place it’s held.
C: One thing that I was struggling with was the “gender equality”, just because normallymore women apply compared with men. Why do you think this happens?
I: Indeed most of the times there are more women or girls participating in the projects. I don’t know, maybe I am wrong but I would say that men usually prefer these kinds of jobs where you work for example as an IT specialist, an engineer or a manager in a big corporation rather than a social worker but ff course I know many great and inspiring men working in the field of social work, international projects and so on. This is how I think but it’s an actually good question to think about…
C: For those who are wondering how to the “youth exchange programs” are made, can youtell us about the process of the making one? How the brainstorming starts, most difficultsteps and how you overcome them, and of course some tips. By the way, any content thatmight help someone who wants to write one is more than welcome!
I: Before I wrote my own first project application I had gone to few other projects to see how it looks like, what is the structure, how the schedule looks like, what kind of activities trainers or facilitator implement. After so many projects the thought comes to your mind: „Maybe it’s time to change the roles? To become the facilitator and organizer ?” When you gather enough information then it’s so much easier to come up with the ideas and structurize it all. First, you must have the idea what your youth exchange could be about. If you can prove what participants will learn through your project and what impact it will have on the local society, then you can try to write the youth exchange application even about bungee jumping… You must be sure what you want people to gain, what are the goals and aims of your project, everything must be precise while answering the questions of the application. If you already have the idea, you should find partner organizations from different countries and send them the „call” which is a short description of the project. Then if you found your partner organizations (few, let’s say 5) then you can start writing your application but remember about the deadlines! You have to describe all the activities you are planning to implement, why, when, for whom and so on… Maybe it sounds difficult when you are reading it now but actually, it is not. If your project is approved, then you will think it was worth it! You will meet amazing people with whom you will be somehow connected with all the memories. Many of the participants during evaluation sessions were expressing their emotions by crying, being speechless… When it happens on the project which was your own idea then you can be sure that the lives of these people will never be the same – at least in a small piece.. 🙂