Back to Cyprus

This March, we were happy to be invited once again for a Youth Exchange in Cyprus by Stressball CY. Based in Larnaca, we attended Employability for all between the 7th March to the 17th March. We were also lucky enough to have it all funded by Erasmus+.This time around we were joined by new friends from Egypt, Morocco, Georgia, Turkey and Cyprus of course. The aim of the project was to learn employability skills and to explore the concept of Social Enterprise. How and why to set one up, the considerations when setting up social businesses and the differences and similarities in the participating countries. It was very interesting sharing these different experiences across the countries and learning about other cultures at a whole new level.

Participants were encouraged to work in groups made up of people from each all the different teams present. We developed ideas which will transform society by working with marginalised groups of young people, creating opportunities and transforming lives.  We came up with some great ideas, worked together to tackle some very real issues and found we had so much in common! The ideas we all created could easily have such a beautiful impact on our societies! Everyone was so passionate about change and keen to work together to implement some of the ideas.

At a personal level it was also such a transformative experience. We arrived as six people from the UK and left with friends spread across the world. Day by day we pushed our skills, our knowledge and confidence. No one likes presentations, but after nine days of presentations everyone had become so confident. And then there was Cyprus itself. The place was beautiful, and there were so many cats! We were lucky enough to take in a few cities and make it up into the mountains. The views were to die for.

Our host Stessball CY is actively involved in empowering youth locally and internationally. Although a fairly new NGO, they are experienced trainers and youth workers and we really enjoyed working with them. The workshops they put on encompassed every aspect of starting a social enterprise, from the analysis to the funding and the business plans. Even the social media was taken in.

At the end of nine days we left, sad to be leaving such a welcoming and inspirational environment but with a whole host of new friends and experiences. All of this was made possible by Erasmus + and we are even happier that until we leave the EU the funding will continue to be available for more and more of these incredible trips! New places, new friends, new growth and new knowledge – what else could you ask for?

Dave James Horn, Volunteer – Bauhaus Cafe CIC

To find out more about Erasmus + and Youth Exchanges please email us info@bauhauscafe.co.uk or send us a message on Facebook www.facebook.com/bauhauscafeuk.

More information about Erasmus + HERE.

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.