Erasmus+ activities are a great opportunity for young people from all over Europe to connect, share knowledge and experiences, and learn new skills. Since 2016, One World Institute Norway is registered in the Erasmus+ database and we are eligible for Erasmus+ funds. We have established partnerships with various organizations from Europe – this means we are able to offer our students the chance to participate in Erasmus+ training courses and youth exchanges. So participating in one of our programs comes with the certainty that you will also take part in Erasmus+ activities.
This month, 5 of our students represented Norway in a Youth Exchange that took place in Georgia. Hi(king), here we come! was a 2 weeks Youth Exchange focused on connecting young people through hiking and healthy lifestyle activities. David, one of our students at this Youth Exchange, is telling us how it was.
First of all, it was really fun being in Georgia and experiencing a little bit of their nature and their culture! Especially when we were so many young people, from 8 different countries, living together and learning together!
It was the 5 of us, sent by One World Institute to represent Norway, and then there were 7 other groups from Armenia, Belarus, Italy, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. And we had three facilitators, one from Georgia, one from Lithuania and some others. So you can imagine the diversity! We were living in a cultural center half an hour away from Tbilisi, quite close to the mountains.
Being a youth exchange, we got the chance to actively participate in the program. Each country group took turns in organizing some of the workshops, presentations, exercises, or even outdoor activities. Norway group, chose to talk about healthy lifestyle. Topics that the other groups presented included discrimination, stereotypes, and globalization. So you can see that it was quite a broad range.
There were, as well, many team building activities. In the beginning they had the purpose to help us know each other. As we went hiking, these activities had the role to build confidence in our teammates, and remind us that nature is amazing, but it can also be dangerous if we don’t respect it.
There were two hikes in our program. One during the day, through forests and valleys – it was really amazing to experience the nature in a new country! And then there was a night hike that came with a bonfire and the possibility to sleep in a tent overnight. The night hike was a new experience for most of us. There was also a small treasure hunt organized by the facilitators along the night hike route.
We got the chance to visit Tbilisi, and some other areas around. We had one full day to visit Tbilisi, to use as we like. Well, as long as we accomplished some tasks, such as translating certain sentences in Georgian, or ask the locals about their traditions.
We also visited the old capital, Mtskheta. Mtskheta is one of the oldest cities in Georgia and it became a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its monuments and old monasteries. Somewhere in the mountains, above this city, stands Jvari, a monastery that dates since the 6th century AC. To this day, there are monks living in this monastery.
I cannot finish without mentioning the famous Intercultural Evenings! In every Training Course or Youth Exchange, each country group presents the specifics of their country: food, drinks, traditional dances and songs, even short theater plays to portray some of the country habits. Because in Georgia we were representatives of 8 different countries, this Youth Exchange had two Intercultural Evenings. Well, I can say it’s a great way to get a taste of another country’s culture! And a great opportunity for the participants to know each other better.
There was also a special Georgian evening, when we went to a restaurant and ate their amazing traditional foods. On this occasion we were introduced to the Georgian dinner table toasting traditions. I’m not going to give you details, it’s best to go there and experience this on your own!
We all left Georgia with many new friends all over Europe, with new healthy life style goals, and also with lots more knowledge about this country! This Erasmus+ activity made all of these possible and we are grateful for it! Also, for us, from One World Institute, this is a great opportunity to experience more of Europe’s extremely diverse culture before starting our travels on other continents.
David – September 2017 Team