Cyprus here we are

Georgina and I were in Larnaca for ten days taking part in a Youth Exchange project with @stressballCY #improveyourself, and we couldn’t contain our excitement. Cyprus was beautiful and we enjoyed warm weather. Our accommodation was on the sea front, we were really lucky. The Flamingo Hotel and Resort was a great place to be spending time learning and enjoying Larnaca.

The project idea was to share cultural skills, knowledge and attitudes in order to have a rich common experience.  A number of volunteers from the UK and other European countries were there with us.  We were keen to share our experiences and knowledge and learn from other participants what makes a valuable volunteering journey. We met participants from Roumania, Spain, Macedonia, Estonia, Georgia and Cyprus. The group’s youngest was 16 years old.

We shared our days together participating in structured exercises that promoted reflection, creation and sharing of ideas and knowledge which helped with development and growth. Evenings were set aside for outings and enjoyment. The town of Larnaca had many bars and restaurants to enjoy a night out. Frozen yoghurt seemed to be pretty popular, it would be interesting to find out why?

As luck would have it, we were invited to meet the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, at the Presidential Palace where he took time to speak to representatives from a number of NGOs in Cyprus.  We were then treated to a presidential buffet and had the opportunity to migle and speak to very interesting NGO representatives.  We had the pleasure of seeing some very interesting works of art at the Palace too.

We took part in exercises for first days to learn more about each other and our cultures.  The project aimed to address youth employment and mobility by teaching communication, entrepreneurship, life and basic skills, digital and social competence, communication skills and cultural skills to motivate young people and help them become more employable. Our research showed that only one other organisation that we could locate in Kent participates in Youth Exchange projects, and Georgina and I aim to change this. Although the future of funding for the UK after Brexit is uncertain, we are keen on developing and participating in as many Youth Exchange projects as we can, and encourage Kentish youth to take part. We’re particularly keen on finding out how NGO’s abroad tackle youth unemployment. Youth unemployment in Cyprus is among the highest in Europe along with Spain, France, Italy and Turkey.

We were amazed at the amount of creativity that we saw and learnt a lot about how youth in different countries perceive and express themselves in everyday life, what their dreams and aspirations are, and how they go about learning skills. We hope to be able to do a comparative study of Youth Exchange take up between the UK and other countries in Europe (showing how participants experience the exchange, what they feel they have gained and how it helps them with education and careers) and create a number of  creative Youth Exchange projects, predominantly using music, arts and creativity,  inviting youth from around Europe to visit and learn in Kent. After all Kent has so much to offer in that respect, and is only an hour away from London, which could be very appealing to creative young people from abroad.

It’s been really wonderful to hear different languages and experience other cultures, learn new words, find out about some truly extraordinary careers and work that people around the word do (I met a young lady who is at university studying for a Masters in crypto currency law/regulation, how interesting).

We would like to thanks Yiannis Kanaris of Stressball CY for hosting the project and making our trip a very enjoyable and educational one and we hope to participate in future projects in Cyprus.

We left buzzing with ideas of projects we would like to deliver here in the UK and abroad and we are now working on a number of them.  If you’re interested in helping, or in traveling and learning new skills, please contact us to find out how HERE.

More about our projects and plans later.  For now, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and ask you to spare a thought for those who will be out in the cold or alone this time of year.  Love and blessings. Betsy and Georgina.

Youth in Action Ashford

The Bauhaus Cafe CIC is now working on a number of youth exchage projects, working to encourage transnational volunteering by young people whilst helping to build confidence, motivation, knowledge of how to actively get involved in organising and funding travel abroad by UK youth and travel to the UK by European youth.

Georgina Cooper has been actively involved in setting up projects, fundraising and developing Youth in Action Ashford and has set up a workshop so that you can learn more about the project and how you can contribute.  This is what she has to say:

So what is it about?

Youth in Action Ashford aims to inspire youngsters, focusing on their skills and interest so that they can pursue projects under Erasmus. These projects will encourage young people to boost the local development of Ashford, as well as travel abroad and gain cultural awareness of other places. It is aimed at 18-30 year olds who wish participant in Erasmus activities and also provide knowledge about the youth exchange bid application process.

Youth Exchanges allow young people to: develop competences; become aware of socially relevant topics/thematic areas; discover new cultures, habits and life-styles, mainly through peer-learning; strengthen values like solidarity, democracy, friendship, etc.
Youth Exchanges are based on a transnational cooperation between two or more participating organisations from different countries within and outside the European Union.

Every day, youth in action projects are being set up all over Europe and further afield, for participants to get involved in. These projects can be a stand for preserving a certain style of dance, or it could be health and food safety; testing out many different styles of cooking. There are projects out there worth getting involved in, if they haven’t been made yet, then it should be.

If you’ve ever fancied running non-formal education workshops, exercises, debates, role-plays, simulations, outdoor activities that relate to your field of interest or you had an idea that could have a quantifiable result, then getting involved in an Erasmus project could be your next step.

For more information and to start your steps to setting up a youth exchange, please come to our next workshop on the 7th of November and Berwick road conference room.
We will be exploring:

-How to participate in a youth exchange
-Good examples of youth exchanges.
-How to create a youth exchange

We would be delighted if you could join us then and find out more about the projects, and see how you may be able to contribute.