Simona – Step in their shoes #1

Simona attended Youth Exchange in Belfast and here’s what she has to share with you:

“Although I took part in the Erasmus + -funded “Step in their shoes” a few weeks ago, I believe the impressions inspired by this experience will be remembered for a long time to come. The days spent on the Northern Irish coast were full of discussions, thoughts, working in a group and silence and important preparation for the Belfast Marathon. Thanks to responsibly selected and successfully applied non-formal education methods, the organizers were able to create a space where sharing knowledge and opinions was really easy and good.

We came from 6 different European countries with a wide range of experience and knowledge. Nevertheless, by signing common agreements, rules, discussing expectations and fears about the project and the challenges of the upcoming marathon, we did not hesitate to understand how much we have in common. Daily morning exercise, jogging between sessions, meditation, yoga and massage sessions, organized on the initiative of the participants themselves, also contributed greatly to the maintenance of optimal physical and mental health and a harmonious environment. As a result of the relaxing and toning effects of these activities, mutual understanding, tolerance and support for each other grew at an incredibly fast pace on a daily basis.

Discussions about a healthy lifestyle, the benefits of a balanced diet and exercise, the importance of developing habits, long-term goals, and a friendly relationship with nature and the environment were given special attention and time during the project. Participants sincerely and continuously, even during free time from the sessions, shared information and experiences related to these topics, which are so important to everyone, at the breakfast or lunch table. It was so good to spend meaningful time in an environment that brought together so many people who came from different parts of Europe to share their love of sport, a healthy lifestyle, and to discuss the day-to-day challenges of the global world and find effective ways to improve.

An equally important part of the youth exchanges was discussions on refugees and other groups at risk and in deprivation. The name of the project is directly related to the everyday realities of vulnerable members of society and seeks to encourage youth exchange participants to empathize with the situations of those people. At each step, during the 25-kilometer hike, during the marathon or part of it, each of us, individually or in groups, tried to appreciate what we had, to enjoy our opportunities, freedoms and privileges. We did not soon realize that, in the face of inequality in the world, we should be very grateful for the favorable circumstances, given the infinitely large part of humanity whose daily lives are much sadder.

However, our privileges are not just a gift, but a great responsibility that, by consciously assuming, we can become even more active members of society on a daily basis, contributing to the full potential of positive change and the common good. I firmly believe that the euphoria ignited by the kilometers overcome in the Belfast Marathon will shine for a long time, and the motivation and enthusiasm to act have already come at least a little closer to the desired results. 

“Youth exchanges are funded by Erasmus +. #Stepintheirshoes

#erasmusplus #youthexchange #abroadship #ngoinnovativegeneration #innovative map #nonformaleducation