Hello people and welcome to this blog!
Αs some of you may (or may not) know, this past month I participated in an Erasmus+ youth exchange in Spain. The program was called «Yes to Sustainability» and it was a unique and fun experience! So, as you might have guessed by now, the aim of this blog is to is to spread the exeperience and knowledge that I’ve gained from this- 10 day- program with the rest of the word. It is an opportunity that I’d encourage everyone to grasp and experiene.
If you are a European citizen between the age 18-30 and you are also someone who loves travelling, experiencing new cultures, meeting new people and constantly expanding their knowlegedge, then you should definitely check out the Erasmus + pograms website.
Chances are you are going to find an exciting program/exchange that fits your needs.
Check out their Website here for more info. –https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/node_en
The place we stayed at- where the program took place, is a beautiful small eco-village/community just an hour away from Madrit. (depicted in the pictures above)
Around 30 families live in the eco-community, where they try to keep their production of waste to the minimum possible by practising a mostly vegan-zero waste lifestyle.
By observing their everyday rituals and routines, I realized that it is not so hard to incorporate zero waste methods into our everyday lives. Small changes can have a big (positive) impact to the environment. For example people always seperated their food from other waste in order to compost it (use it for the soil for example) or they would reuse old cloths to wash their dishes instead of buying sponges. And those are just a few examples.
Moving on to the first day, it was time to get to know each other. We were it total around 25 participants from 3 different countries. (3 Teams: 1 from Spain, 1 from the Netherlands and Greece). The process of getting to know each other and get to memorize names was made fun through interactive activities and games. Here I would like to give a huge shoutout and say thank you to youth leaders (Let’s say tha lead person of each team) that kept us organized and prepaired all those great activities for us.
Immediately I felt at home. The people were very welcoming and their hugs heart warming. It did not take too long to start sharing stories about our lives and our background with each other. One thing that I personally also felt contributed majorly to becoming a team and getting closer were the morning Tasks.
But let me make it clear for you first. Each day after meditation session-breakfast time, we would meet at the main house to start our day. First thing was a morning circle – a form of quick meditation and connection between the participants- then it was time for Morning Tasks!
We were separated into 4 groups and each group was assigned a task. (Cleaning, cooking, organizing, garden work) This kept our space clean and gave us a head start for the rest of the day. Team work definitely playeda key role during that time as it made tasks 100x faster and easier to complete. All of the participants working for a common goal and interacting with each other was definitely a very pleasant experience and set the mood for the rest of the day.
Here is a picture of what our typical morning schedule would look like:
Then, once Community Task was done, it was time for our 1st workshop of the day.
Throughout the course of this program, we participated in various workshops with different themes-some of them organized by the participants too! Anyone was free to create their own workshop during free time (or open-space as we called it). Workshops for non-violent communication, sustainability, theatre,meditation and yoga was a few of them.
Below I’ve insertet pictures from the workshops and morning tasks (from different days)
(Morning Task: Preparation for the Non-violent communication workshop)
(Slide below: Acro yoga workshop/rehearsal)
There are 2 more important things I’d like to mention in this post about the youth exchange experience. The Performance we put up for the local people [-again focusing on the topic of sustainability]- and the Cultural- Themed Dinner Nights.
«Theme dinner» is what each group from each country would do: Prepair their country’s traditional-most famous dishes (always vegan) and share/ celebrate their culture with the rest of the people. So we had 3 dinner nights: SPAIN NIGHT, GREEK NIGHT & NETHERLAND NIGHT.
All 3 were delightful and a lot of effort was put into them. I deeply appreciated this experience. Those nights brought us closer and it was a nice opportunity to dance and have fun.
(*Pictures from our team’s Greek Night)
Last but not least, a big part of this Youth Exchange experience, was the Performance we all created together that consisted of Acro yoga, fire juggling tricks, singing and of course a theatrical skit. All of the above were within’ the context of environmental awareness and the outcome was very creative and fun.
Some wonderful people helped us and coordinated us throughout this whole proccess but we also worked a lot with each other as small teams and were responsible for our part of the show. (But a Special thanks to Victor- our Theater instructor for his Guidance and Theatre excersises is necessary)
Here is the final outcome in pictures. The poster and the day of the performance. (which took place in the public pool of the village and everyone attending had a lot of fun)
The 10th and last day of course was very emotional. It is so interesting to realize how some people that you only met a week ago can mean so much to you. I am very happy to now say that I have friends from so many different parts of the world. I cannot wait to meet them again. I will be forever thankful that I got to experience this.
Τhat’s a wrap I think. Those are the things I wanted to talk about and reflect regarding my experience. Below you can enjoy some more pictures I took during the course of the program.