“Mini Youth Exchange”

The weekend before the departure of three of our four last volunteers, the volunteers organized a youth exchange, planning the activities and the topics for three whole days. The aim of this initiative was to show the teenagers what a youth exchange is and tries to make them overtake their fears.

On Friday, the first day of the youth exchange, most of the teenagers and our volunteers went to the bus station to take the bus. After that, the bus went to Veliko Turnovo to pick up other teenagers and some volunteers from other organizations that wanted to join our initiative. Once all the people were on the bus, they went to the hut where all the activities and meals were about to take place. At the beginning, when they arrived, the hut was without electricity and heating, although ten minutes after they arrived, the electricity came back. Once everyone went to the room to leave their luggage, the first session of the youth exchange started. The main objective of this session was making the people know the name of the others, including different types of name games to make that easy for them, although the volunteers had more problems to remember all the names. After the session, the dinner took place and once it finished, it was time for The Big Game, the contest of questions, answers and games developed by Damián. This time he made it shorter and also he made new questions and games for the occasion.

On Saturday morning, all the volunteers and participants had a short session about values, making the different teams be like in a hot air balloon that is falling down, having ten values and having around 2 minutes to throw one, repeating this action until having just one value left. At the end, we compared the way that the three different teams were throwing the values and discussed about that. The three teams were more or less similar in the way they throw the values, keeping all the teams the value “health”.

A continuation, everyone went to Veliko Turnovo, being back for the lunch. After that small excursion, the next session, based on healthy life style, took place. The aim of this session was showing to the people another way of eating and make them reflect about their health and their life. During this session carried out by Emmeline, different questions related to health and life were asked, making the people divided by themselves in yes, no or maybe. Every time that the people divided, Emmeline was asking them the reason of their choice, trying to make a small debate on the topic. Once finished this part of the session, as an optional activity, the people went to the restaurant to prepare raw candies with different type of ingredients, making a candy out of natural products that you can find in nature or obtain out of natural products. Then, after the candies and cakes were prepared, we had a coffee break, eating the candies that we prepared during the session.

Following the previous sessions, the next one based in communication and leaded by Damián took place. The objective of this group of activities was showing to them how in several occasions the only problem is communication, presenting different situations and discussing about how they felt and how to resolve them. The first activity was a game called “Crossing the river”. Two teams had to cross a river using rocks, but the use of these rocks had a couple of rules. During the game, as always, the teams focused in competing and finishing the first, forgot to discuss and try to make a strategy, something that they realized after the activity. Once the participants discussed about their roles during the game, the leadership and related topics, the game called “The secret message” took place. During this game, the people were coming to the room in small groups, a room where some people were talking about a topic with the vocabulary of another topic (example: talking about reading using the vocabulary of smoking). This game showed to them that in order to participate in conversations, sometimes we have to stop, listen and ask, something that just a few people did.  Finally, the last game of this session was “The receptionist”, a game in which two players are the costumer and the receptionist, speaking two different languages and having the receptionist to understand the customer. This game had the aim of putting them in the situation that you don’t know the language and you must communicate with others in order to reach something.

On Sunday, the last day, we had the presentation of Erasmus + program, including youth exchanges, that was the thing that we presented to them by making a youth exchange, and the European Voluntary Service. For the EVS, we had a presentation made by Damián and small game with a discussion in order to make for them all clear about this kind of initiatives. Once the presentations and the game were finished, we had a coffee break and the creativity session, making some energizers and giving to them a lot of material in order to make them able to do the following task, making a poster showing to the others what was the youth exchange for them.

Finally, after the posters and the lunch, everyone went to the last activity of the youth exchange, a walk around Arbanasi and the way back home.

Videos and photos from the event: