Erasmus+ Youth Exchange „EnCourage“ 2019

Looking back and reflecting on memories of the ERASMUS+ Youth Exchange I participated in September 2019:

Veronika, Żak Lina, Christian and Albert were the guys who created with
Navigaia Journeys an adventurous space for a 12-day experimental learning program called EnCourage. Being there among 9 group leaders from European partner organization and 36 participants, we were all thrown into our own processes and told to just trust. Well, now I definitely say – it paid off!

Some weeks beforehand we, the group leaders and organizators met at the venue ZEBRA Kagel, located in nicely untouched nature close by Berlin. In the course of 3 days we got to know each other and put challenges in order for creating an experience full of learnings for all of us. Back then I could not imagine, how all this would work out. Meanwhile I got the role for communications and logistics, being in charge for social needs towards food, grocery or the outdoor area. All of us group leaders had a double role with facilitating and leading national and reflection groups, but also as participants in the program. Technically it was the first time having this special responsibility, but at the same time my curiosity about what would came overweighted.

Then, months later in the end of September’19, the big EnCourage program started facing educational travel and personal development by its core. Directly cycling from my journey in France along the Maas I came to jump into this so called “Hero’s Journey”, the concept of this training program. To me I was super excited getting to know the 36 participants from across Europe! Especially, I liked the fresh dynamic and curiosity at their day of arrival. From the very beginning we broke down classic national barriers by mixing all of them into multi-national dorms.

In the end, I think they appreciated as well – same with gendered bathrooms. In the very first days I got a bit overwhelmed by being the communications head of 49 people with 49 interests (seemed like) and in particular food, wow, turned out to be an issue. You should know that the whole program was covered by EU financial funding to make this program happen – everything was covered. Mobility to the venue from your home country, accommodation, food – the only thing you needed to be: an under 30-year-old person. For more than a year all the organisers had already put their heads and brains together to create this experience. And yet, complaints about drinks and food popped up with was stressful to communicate for me, as I didn’t expected this much resistance from people. But also this was one of the big learnings.
To sum up, one of my highlight challenges was the nature walk!
“What’s holding you back in life to start doing what you really want to do?” was the only question put into our heads. From there on we were told to spread out and hike into the woods by being silent and using non-verbal communication. Holding distance of min. 20 meters to others, we spend 150 minutes in nature just observing and letting thoughts flow. Personally I received so many callings and learnings by doing this challenge that I had never before, which creates a huge sense of appreciation to the people who came up with this idea. It seems so simple to do, but have you ever done so? To me it was a mind-blowing experience and definitely broadened my horizon. Besides that the program offered space for us participants to shape it by our own strength and according to our favours. So I offered doing photography, Slow Travel workshops, an Extinction Rebellion climate night and body massage with reflection programs.

Lots of love to the ones who made this time unforgettable! ♥️

Grande Merci. Dank u wel. Grazie. Gracias. Danke. Obrigado. Takk. Hvala. Dziękuję. Mulţumesc. Tesekkur ederim. Thank you

Reposted photography of Navigaia Journeys