Due to some technical and national problems, the Bulgarian and Turkish teams couldn’t attend the youth exchange, so the last week of July was focused on finding a new venue and structuring the activities.
SMARTT youth exchange started on 1st of august. I was the facilitator of activities. 20 young people from 4 different countries, Latvia, Romaia, Serbia and UK gathered for a week in Kekava to discuss and tackle the problem of time management amongst youth. This was a challenge and an opportunity for my professional grow, as during EVS time I’ve decided I want to become a trainer and a facilitator on activities based on non-formal education. Each day one country was in charge with the energisers, and I facilitate the workshops. We discussed and worked on European concepts and values, team building and team management, schedule and prioritization of tasks, as well as time management skills, SMART objectives and elevator pitch. The result of the project was a flash mob organized by the participants, in Riga city center. It was the first project where I was responsible of the participants and activities and I learnt a lot from it. I think it was also a milestone from our organization work, as we saw how to work together better in stressful conditions and how to manage our tasks.
After SMARTT project ended, we had a meeting in order to discuss and evaluate the quality of the project and the teamwork, as well as start working on the preparation of the next youth exchange that got approved, HANDiCRAFTs. We set the APV meeting at the end of august and the project dates at the end of September. I also started to write on the final report for our project, describe the competences the participants gained during the activities, as well as working at editing a video for the project. August was a month with a lot of tasks, but also with a lot of fun. Together with the coordinator and my biggest support during the project I’ve been to a walking tour around Tuja and saw the meteorite shower in Jurmala with my mentor.
The end of august was designate to preparing the Advanced Planning visit for the HANDiCRAFTs project. During the meeting, partners from Lithuania, Slovenia, Romania and Turkey came for 1 day to Riga and discuss the details for a successful youth exchange. We visited the venue, discuss about travel arrangements as well as the workshops each country has to prepare for the project.
August was a busy period also for cultural events and festivals. Together with the coordinator from solis Tuvak and my mentor we participated to some Latvian teathre plays, as well as one in English. Also, in Jurmala was the Roma festival, where gropus from different countries met to dance and sing. The festival was a goomd memory of home, with Balkan music and dances, and it was a great opportunity to me to show my Latvian friends what is Balkan culture about.
September, my last month as an EVS volunteer, was full of beautiful experiences and professional development. While I maintained the contact with the partners and searched for Latvian participants for the youth exchange we organized at the end of the month, I also enjoyed the wonders of Latvian autumn. I went to local and traditional markets and on a walking tour of Sigulda. I also visited Cesis and Saldus and started to learn some Latvian traditional dances.
Together with my coordinator, we prepared, wrote and developed a youth exchange on entrepreneurship skills for the deadline on 4th of October.
Once the project started, I facilitate the workshops, prepared each activity and energizers, team building tasks and feedback groups. It was again a great opportunity for me to develop both on a personal and professional level, to develop team work skills and be more prepared for the activities that will take place after the end of the EVS project.
On 30th of September I had my last activity as an EVS volunteer in Latvia. Solis Tuvak had a info session in Dagda, and I was the speaker for it. Together with 60 young people, we discussed about European identity, Erasmus+ project, Erasmus Internship and Erasmus Placement as opportunities for youth to be active in the European field. We organized the workshop as a daily activity plan in a youth exchange, in order for youngsters to understand better what the purpose of Erasmus + program is. Besides having the opportunity to improve my public speaking and facilitating skills, the trip to Dagda give me the opportunity to see the east part of Latvia, Latgale, an area with a lot of lakes and churches, as well as farms.
Now, at the end of my project, this experience helped me beyond the objectives initially set. During these 11 months I developed on every level, experienced a new culture, learn new traditions, adapt to cultural differences, as well as working and collaborating to a small but creative and hardworking team, with a lot of will and flexibility, that helped me during each step of the process. The weekly meeting with my mentor, as well as with my coordinator, were an important support during my stay in Riga. This year answered a lot of personal and professional questions and was an eye opener for future projects. The connection settled between me and Latvia is strong and full of hopes and plans, and I hope I’ll return soon.