1st International Youth Meeting – ‘Where are you?’ held in Heilbad Heiligenstadt, Germany - August 2010
A Short Report of Activities held during the Meeting by George Frendo participating as a representative of Malta UNESCO Youth Association.
Day 1 – Sunday
After a long journey to Heilbad Heiligenstadt by train, I arrived at my destination at nearly 10.00 in the evening. I had an idea where to go through maps given to us beforehand and therefore after going out from the station I started my way to the place. On my way, I met a group of 3 people, 2 guys where from Turkey and surprisingly enough I met a person from Malta whom she was travelling all the way with me but we didn’t realise. Obviously this was a relief to speak a bit in Maltese after travelling for nearly 7 hours without speaking to anyone. As we arrived and we did our registrations, we got to know the others who were taking part in this meeting.
Most of the participants were already there and thus we had an extra welcome when they saw another 4 coming.
Day 2 – Monday
Non formal learning was the subject of the day. We were all curious about what this had to offer and also a bit tense because we had to put what we went there for into concrete terms. Before Wolfgang, one of the organisers gave us the easy start to get to know what to expect, we were greeted by Mrs Beck, director of the “Marcel Callo Haus” in Heilbad. She gave us a detailed explanation about the house and its history which also made us feel familiar with the staff and the house itself. After the presentation by the organisation, it was now time for the big presentation which caused some stomachs to feel butterflies. However none of this happened since we were split into three different work shops, were each of us were given a sheet to present our organisation on it. This was an informative task since we got to know our organisations closer and made us compare our activities in the organisation with the
others. During our first work shop we improved our knowledge and skills about non formal learning. After having energized ourselves both inside and outside the building, we were all geared up for another day full or surprises one can say.
Day 3 – Tuesday
Tuesday was another packed and busy day with so many activities going around. During the day was had a wide range of activities ranging from discussions on migration, democracy and active citizenship. All of these topics were divided into groups with participants choosing their favourite topic. I chose migration since it is quite a hot topic for us Maltese and also because I wanted to know how youth work can benefit from migration. Another topic which was discussed during one activity was the future of e-democracy. We were given a short presentation about the topic and we discussed how e-participation can be related to e-democracy. It was a busy day however we couldn’t end the day without doing an evaluation of the activities held during the day. The evaluation was held every evening just after the activities. For the evaluation we had 8 groups were each group after discussion and evaluation, presented in point form the benefits of the activities and any suggestions on improvements.
Day 4 – Wednesday
This was the big day everyone was expecting for two reasons: the simulation and the European night of cultures. A steady and carefully managed enlargement policy is in the interest of the European Union. Future enlargements will concern the countries of south-eastern Europe. These countries are at various stages on their road towards the
EU. Croatia and Turkey are candidate countries. During this day, we got a very interesting insight of the decision-making process of the European Union. In the simulation game we had to deal with the candidate countries Croatia and Turkey.
Three institutions, the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament had to proof the candidates. In the end of the sessions, the European Commission had to decide whether the two countries are getting acceded or not. This was fun, professionally handled and thoughtful because one cannot learn how these
institutions work together if not learning by doing.
In the evening we have celebrated our cultural evening. All of us brought special food from our home countries. The party lasted long and it has seemed to us that we didn't want to stop the music. Putting apart partying that evening, the Maltese corner was given an extra star since we proofed that Malta has so much to offer. This was done by distributing material about Malta given to us by MTA which was very much useful.
Day 5 – Thursday
We had an early start today due to the fact that we were going to Erfurt! We were tired but happy to go for an excursion or at least what we thought would be an excursion. The previous night we had the option to choose between three different workshops: printed media, graphic design and blog. The main topic was youth work and media. Practical examples on how does it work, what could be improved and what should be changed were brought up during the discussions.
Obviously we used the lunch break in order to go around the city and discover some of the sites. After the break which was of course not long enough in Erfurt, we returned to the workshops. Having worked in separate groups most of the day the whole group met again for the last session which was the press conference.
Representatives of three different organisations talked from their own experience how to combine media and youth work to reach youth and how to get them to participate and activate them. Many questions were raised such as what are the positive and the negative effects of using media as a tool in youth work, how to reach your target group and how can we reach people in all segments of society. After a long day, we were back in the bus on our way to Heilbad Heiligenstadt.
Day 6 – Friday
The final day of our work shops was now with us. After we had breakfast and we went up to the room where we usually hold our discussions, we were all surprised that the room has now taken a new form, that of a restaurant called ‘The World Café’. The activity world café symbolises unity were everyone could share their experiences as one would do when sitting in a restaurant with other people. Following this activity, one of the organisers Markus Rebitschek prepared a presentation about the Youth Pass. The Youth Pass is a recognized certificate awarded by the European Union which explains your experience in EVS’s, Meetings and Exchanges which are part of the Youth in Action Programmes. Today, it was also time for the evaluation however the last one has now taken a new form. Each group was given a whole day to evaluate and share our knowledge about that particular day. This was than presented in class once again by all the team groups. After we evaluated our experiences all together it was now time to give feedback to the organisers themselves. Although we all had in mind a major objective, that to prepare for the farewell party, we took this activity quite serious. Each and every one of us was given an evaluation form to complete with a questionnaire on the meeting which then had to be submitted to the organisers.
We all then set up a committee for the organisation of the farewell party. I was elected to be the delivery man so as one would assume, that afternoon included some hard work for me which later proved to be worth doing it. The farewell party consisted of a BBQ in the yard were once again, every nation had a contribution to prepare food or drinks. This was followed by a Friday night party inside were some of us suddenly recognized that the week has now met its end.
Day 7 – Saturday
Sadly enough, this was the departure day. After the Friday night fever and our wonderful farewell party, that morning was a sad morning for everyone. Since we had to catch the train at 13.00, some of us were already leaving in the morning therefore we’ve spent that morning enjoying the final company of each other. The week in Heilbad Heiligenstadt was awesome and a great opportunity to meet people from 18 different countries. All merits goes to the organisation, the team of CGE Erfurt who did their utmost so that us participants would have an unforgettable experience.