New experiences, friendships, non-formal learning and skills-boosting. What is their common denominator? The Erasmus+ training course in Istanbul named “We Are Multipliers”. The project took place from 21/01-30/01 2016 in the Istanbul-district Bayrampaşa. In total, 44 young, ambitious people from near and far were gathered from ten different countries: Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovak Republic, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
The hosting organisation for this training course was Danish Intercultural Organisation – DIO even though the venue was the lush four star Marnas Hotel in the 20-million-people metropolitan city of Istanbul. A splendid location for an event such as this. The participants came either in national teams or as individuals, but from the moment they arrived, we were all as one, interacting with each other and enjoying the warm and festive atmosphere, ready to explore Istanbul, acquire new skills, and much much more.
The main objectives of the project was professional development of youth workers by enabling them to acquire new skills and professional experiences. The project included transnational activities such as seminars, training courses, contact-making events, university visit, cultural evenings, and self-made workshops. To help the participants reach the objective, two trainers from Estonia, Heleri Alles and Janar Eismann, worked as facilitators to guide the participants through the program. Furthermore, this project helped the international team of youngsters develop skills such as working with different target groups, understanding the concept of intercultural learning, and developing the personal learning process in the context of non-formal learning.
Everyday started out with a solid breakfast at the hotel followed by activities until 13:30 when we were presented with a substantial lunch consisting of salads and hot meals. After a short break the activities were resumed until 19:00 where a daily self-assessment and feedback session were held in pairs and small groups. After a nutritious dinner, the day usually ended in a cultural evening where the different countries had the opportunity to do a presentation about their country. The planned program ends around 22:30 which paved the way for us to have a party – either in the hotel or somewhere in Istanbul – or get a early night, whatever was preferred.
A lot of the workshops were designed to involve all the participants, so group assignments were a big part of the project. The workshops included: tasks to complete in Istanbul on our own, preparing a self-made workshop to present to the others and university students, ‘creating’ a distinct culture to highlight the difficulty of intercultural understanding etc etc.
Besides this, the activities we did revolved around some key competences that the trainers wanted us to learn or enhance. These were: communication (in native and foreign languages), mathematical, basic science and technology, digital, learning to learn, social and civic, sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, and lastly, cultural awareness and expression.
The project also gave us the opportunity to eat breakfast with the mayor of the Istanbul-municipality Küçükçekmece to have a talk about youth workers, environmental issues and the importance of intercultural understanding as well as the fight against terrorism. The visit also included a tour around some of the cultural institutions that the municipality has to offer. A great day out, full of impressions.
Stepping away from the workshops and activities for a moment. Because the project also included a day out in Istanbul where we had the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Istanbul. Some went shopping, some went to a football game, others sightseeing. It was a good day out and a great experience. And it also keeps the project in a good balance between learning and having fun. We even had a group-night-out in Istanbul’s Taksim district, famous for tourists and parties among other things.
All in all, I would say, as a participant, that the project was a great success and a great opportunity to develop skills, enhance competences, and gain experience useful in working with young people or in the professional working life. Furthermore, the other participants only added to the fun with their willingness to learn and party. As we said: “Work hard, play hard”.
By Daniel Pedersen