About 60 young people from 12 different countries came together in Ayia Napa, which is located at the south coast of Cyprus, to learn about this exciting topic of active citizenship. Here is the story of 4 members of the German Team who shared their valuable experience.
“I’ve never been to an #ErasmusProject before, in fact I never even been to an exchange or let alone another country all by myself. Therefore, I was really nervous and even more excited. I remember sitting in the plane, having absolutely no clue what was laying ahead of me, and having the weirdest ideas of how everything could turn out. Some hours, two planes and one bus ride later, we arrived at the venue and as soon as I talked to the first participants, all my worries vanished. Everyone was super nice and open-minded and we got in touch right at the first evening.
9 days and countless memories later I found myself sitting in a plane again, ready to go back home. And at that moment I realized how glad I was for being part of this youth exchange which, to me, was much more than “just a week of vacation”. I learned about many things such as human rights, or the EU – but the most important things I learned weren’t facts or data. It was how people with different personalities, different age and a different cultural background can grow into one big family. How the EU is not just a bunch of laws but people living altogether. A huge chance for all of us. Of course there are flaws and it is important to address them, but especially in a time like this, we should remember that we are all somehow connected to each other.”
“I spent the week from the 16.1 till 24.1 in Ayia Napa. There I was able to participate in the Youth Exchange “Understanding our human rights for a better EU” which I choose because I am really interested in the #EU and its common values. I was especially interested in this course because I worked on human rights issues during my internship in the European Parliament. Our schedule was packed but still filled with both fun and work activities. On our first day we did many different icebreakers night, weakers and team building activities to get to know the group better. The following days we had simulations and group work which focused on human rights and how those are different in the states in and around the EU. In the end of our Youth Exchange we had time for an excursion day to experience Cyprus since the most of the 60 participants (from Germany, Czech Republic, Armenia, Georgie, Ukraine, Poland, Portugal, Morocco, Turkey, Bulgaria and Italy ) have never been to Cyprus. We visited Limassol and its old town which was really pretty and impressive. At night we had intercultural evenings to get to know the different cultures from the participating countries better. Every country had the chance to present itself while showing some videos, presentations, dances and quizzes before we tasted their traditional food and drinks and spent the evening together with music from these countries. I really enjoyed this part of the course because a lot of the participating countries are rather unknown, and it was really interesting and fun to have this #interculturalexperience. I could definitely feel the EU motto “united in diversity” here and after the program we are definitely a big group of friends and I would be surprised when we meet each other again. After this training course I feel encouraged to work more on human rights issues and make a bigger impact on my local community. This was my second Erasmus+ project and I will participate in another one soon because I really loved the combination between topic focussed learning and intercultural exchange. Thank you so much for this amazing experience!”
“For me, Erasmus itself was nothing new. I’ve already participated in an “European Voluntary service” (now “#ESC“) and was therefore familiar to some of the great possibilities, that Erasmus has to offer. During my “EVS” i became friends with a girl, who took part in Youth Exchanges on a regular basis. She inspired me to look into youth exchanges myself. When I found the “understanding our human Rights for a better EU” Exchange on Cyprus which was organized by OTI, I applied instantly. Before the Project, my expectations where, that it might be similar to the on-arrival or mid-term training during my EVS. They had both been great experiences, meeting a lot of new people and making international friends while also working on different topics. When i arrived on Cyprus and the Exchange started I was not disappointed. I Indeed met a lot of great people and learned more about human rights. But of course not everything was perfect. For example the venue was not the best, but I think, we made the best out of it and everyone had a lot of fun. To sum up, I can only recommend participating in Youth exchanges like this one. It will definitely broaden your horizon and be an experience for your lifetime.”
“In the past years I’ve experienced lots of exchanges with #Erasmus+, and, as always, every #YouthExchange is a wonderful, small world in itself. You make new friends, you meet people from countries you have never met someone before, you learn new words andcultures. It is like making a trip through all the countries represented there. In Cyprus, we have been an unusually big group, which could be a challenge at first, but you quickly adapted on. The constant buzzing of all sorts of languages, people and their personalities creates a dynamic atmosphere, a clash of cultures. You definitely get out as a person richer in experiences. But the most important thing is, you learn more about yourself. The program was filled with energy, (get-to-know) games, singing, acting and eating wafers in the breaks, with some activities being amazing, as was imaginary-state-building activity (formerly unknown to me). The breaks were used for walks on the beach, even swimming, even though it was January. Well, you ought to toughen up! And the evenings were full of culture, joy, music, games, and drinking, and as such a big bunch is unavoidable to be silent, with police nicely asking to be quiet, for the neighbors did not always share our happiness. I am especially proud of a video that was produced in a group I took part in. All of us got very excited and committed to making a convincing video about corruption, but the fun behind all the planning, script-writing and recording left all my expectations behind. I fell in love with the nature in Cyprus, made other participants look at zoological details (I’m a biologist), got to learn (most of) the around 60-70 names and had the perfect route planned to visit my new friends from different countries in the east, before I landed back in Germany (that is before Covid-19 made travelling impossible for some time). All in all, the people always make an exchange rise or fall, and this one was definitely not to be missed. You are promised that you don’t know it ‘till you try it, and then you will do it again and again and again…”