What a journey! Here are some pictures of our magical, intensive, surprising, deep Youth Exchange “EnCourage” with lots of learnings for everyone. 36 young people from across Europe, 9 group leaders and 4 trainers embarked on a journey together. With the dramaturgy of the hero’s journey the participants got to know themselves better, they dived deeper into what their vision is for their travel journey but also for their life. They faced the resistances that hold them back to travel but also that hold them back to do what they truly want to do in life. The adventurers stepped into an unknown world, learnt how to trust the process, gained intercultural competencies though intercultural simulations and through the interactions among them. On the days of the biggest challenges, they went on an adventure to Berlin to put into practice on a “real travel journey” what they’ve learnt in the past days. The treasures they found were their learnings, personal growth, more self-esteem, new answers, new questions, new experiences and new friendships across Europe. Thank you so much for everyone who made EnCourage special. Thank you to all the great support of the Group Leaders and to the whole team! Thank you to the participants to step into the unknown! And thank you to the venue Zebra Kagel for providing this amazing location close to nature.
Your Navigaia Journeys Crew!
HOW THE YOUTH EXCHANGE HELPED ME TO GET OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE
An article by Bilel Belmahdi
When I was told about the project, I was a bit skeptical, I had never travelled, I did not speak very well English. You could say I was in my comfort zone. And since the project was about personal development, I thought that maybe it was not a coincidence, that I had to get out of this zone that prevents me from progressing every day.
So I took my courage, and I sent an email to Yanis, one of the organizers of this stay, everything was very clear and organized and above all it was reassuring.
There were different workshops, yoga, concentration classes. But what I preferred the most was when with the music we had to dance, shout, as in the theatre, there was no judgment, we could be who we want, do what we want, we were free and I loved it!
What struck me during this stay was the evolution, at the beginning I was shy, I didn’t dare speak because of my approximate English, but at the end, I was totally confident, I laughed with everyone, the trainers were kind and attentive.
This is the first time I have disconnected myself from my projects and my life in society to think only of me, my goals and my happiness! Suffice it to say that when I returned, I was full of energy, and of will and above all I was someone else. I knew I was in a comfort zone and I wanted to change that and I did!
THE NATURE SPOT
An article by Marisa Murtinha
Two hours alone in nature. It might not seem like a long time, but when there is no access to a phone, a notebook, a friend to talk to or any other distraction a lot can go through someone’s mind.
During the Youth Exchange EnCourage, I was invited to take this challenge and it was a journey of its own. I started from a crowded place like we all did and then separated myself from everyone. From the corner of my eye I saw a hammock hanged between two tall trees and I was instantly attracted to it. I don’t know if it was it’s vibrant yellow color or the fact that it was not touching the ground, but just like that, I found my nature spot.
While laying down, I started to realize how tall the trees around me really were and how the leaves above moved to the taste of the wind. My eyes now concentrated on a little butterfly resting on the trunk of the tree in front of me. Its wings also moved to the taste of the wind as if it was one with nature.
My mind wonders. I think about everything and nothing all at once. I want to organize my thoughts or just make them disappear completely. Focus. Focus! FOCUS! I said to myself and somehow I managed to loose track of time while reflecting about my future adventures in life.
Once in a while, I look back at the butterfly that is still exactly on the same place. It’s incredible how its wings blend with the colors of the tree. The perfect camuflage.
I feel calm ans relaxed and, suddenly, a loud whistle calls me back to reality. Two hours had passed. I got up from the bright yellow hammock and looked one last time at the tree in front of me and realized that the quiet butterfly I was admiring for so long, wasn’t a butterfly at all. It was just a part of the trunk of the tree! Oh…the power of imagination!
ENCOURAGE YOURSELF – CAN YOU?
An article by Šárka Doležalová
During 10 days in September, I had the opportunity to participate in the ERASMUS+ project named EnCourage which was focused on Youth Exchange. It took place at nice and peaceful place in the nature, not far away from the capital city of Germany – Berlin. In total, 49 people was involved in the project: 36 participants from 9 European countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, Romania and Serbia), 9 group leaders (each from one country) and 4 experienced facilitators.
The project was aimed at finding the courage and purpose to travel, overcoming resistances and fears, improving the way people deal with uncertainties and challenges or connecting with other cultures. It also integrated interesting approaches, methods and exercises such as positive and humanistic psychology, adventure based learning, gestalt work and systemics, nature education, intercultural psychology, theater and dance education, bodywork/embodiment, mindfulness research, various experience-based coaching techniques, other non-formal learning methods and games. All of the above mentioned was part of the archetypal story pattern “The Hero’s Journey” that accompanied us throughout the whole project. Each day was dedicated to the different topic such as the crew & I, calling, resistances & fears, world of wonders, first challenges, preparation for the adventure, the biggest challenge, treasures and returning home, closing.
Every day in the morning we met in the training room where we usually started with a short meditation, and then there was scope for feedback from the previous day where everyone could comment. For the rest of the day, we were engaged in various activities related to the topic of the day. Since the activities were based on non-formal learning, it was up to each participant to learn from them. If more people were involved in some activity, we were always with someone from another country, which was great to practice in English. The highlight of the project was 3-day outdoor activity.
Probably the biggest challenge during the whole project for me was to complete this 3-day outdoor activity and I am proud of myself that I managed to do it. The task was simple, to get to Berlin. However, each of 9 formed groups had a limited budget and had to plan everything regarding travel such as transportation and accommodation the day before departure. In the end, it was an incredible adventure full of challenges, both those we should have met as a group (which I enjoyed so much) and my personal ones. As a group leader, I had the opportunity to experience what it is like to lead an international group of people and take
responsibility not only for myself but also for others. During these 3 days I stepped out of my comfort zone, tested both my strengths and limits, discovered plenty of new places, tasted new dishes, met different people and became closer to other participants of the project. During this short adventure I also came to interesting findings:
1. Although I am more of a type of person who likes everything planned and knows what to expect, so when it happens sometimes that things are not what I want them to be, keep calm and trust the process.
2. Trust was also one of the topics discussed during the project and I was lucky to be surrounded by people I could rely on and with whom I felt safe, even though we knew each other for about a week.
3. Taking risks sometimes pays off and the main thing is never to give up, because when there is faith (and friends), everything is possible.
Concerning the whole project, I have mostly positive feelings from it. I can use some adjectives to describe it, such as amazing, intensive, beneficial, enriching, unforgettable, inspiring… I am very grateful for the chance to participate in this really meaningful project, because it helped me a lot in my personal development and fulfilled my expectations. In 10 days I learned so much about myself, mainly because of the various activities we did during the project. I am also more motivated to travel somewhere on my own. Last but not least, I am very glad that I met such great people and found good friends in some of them. Each one is unique and I learned a lot from each of them.
Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone to see what a wonderful world is around us and how many things we can learn, experience, discover about ourselves as well as to overcome our fear.
You can find another article (Youth Exchange: The school of life) here.