Change your life through an Erasmus+ project
In this piece one of sCOOL Media’s regular authors, 12th grader Monika Novkova from the 73rd High School “Vladislav Gramatik” in Sofia tells us more about the Erasmus+ program that gives young people from across the EU and beyond the chance to visit a different country and engage with important youth topics, as well as of her own experience during one such project.
“I quit my job so I can come to this project and honestly I have never felt more alive. It’s an amazing experience”, says Claudia Ferraz, one of the Portuguese participants of the latest Erasmus+ project “Shoot”, which was held in Lozen, Sofia from 25 August untill the 2 September. All of the participants spent one week in the Bulgarian mountains photographing people and landscapes, making new friends, finding interesting places and learning more about photography and minorities – the two main topics. The project was organized by the NGO “Connected for future”, one of whose co-founders Anna Lyubenova was the facilitator, and sponsored by Erasmus+.
For me it all started when I got a message that there is an available spot for photography youth exchange. It took me 10 minutes to decide I want to go and after a few short days the journey began. We got on the bus, nobody knew anybody, and all wondering what is ahead of us.
Our mornings started with nice coffee, tasty breakfast and some perky cats, which would try to steal our food. The days were filled with a lot of activities giving us the chance to work with everybody and get to know them better – from icebreakers and teambuilding games to activities connected with presenting important issues from each country. Useful photography and videography tips were exchanged through presentations, discussion and different assignments. We even had the chance to spend one day in Sofia, sightseeing, photographing and later creating our own exhibition with the best photos. Important topics such as inclusion, minorities and discrimination were discussed as well through activities which helped us to understand them better.
All of the participants shared their opinions during our final evaluation the last day – how great this project was, the many friends they made, how much they learned here and the food for thought this exchange gave them. But one of the things that stood out was the fact how little people would know for the Erasmus+ projects if it weren’t for their friends who shared their experience.
A general opinion shared among youngsters is that there are rarely any opportunities for young people and more specifically for those coming from poor families or rural areas. Erasmus+ proves that this is not true. Behind the complicated official name of the program – “European Commission’s Program for education, training, youth and sport for the period 2014-2020”, one needs to know that it gives many opportunities for non-formal education all over Europe. These vary from youth exchanges trainings on current topics to EVS or more specifically European Voluntary service, which gives you the chance to spend from 2 months to 1 year in country by choice and work there.
The common misunderstanding is that it is hard to apply and to be accepted for such a project. Most of the times, however, you just need to fill a Google form and wait a few days for the answer. Another misconception is that these exchanges are only for teenager when actually no matter if you are a high school or college student or you are already working you can participate and gain irreplaceable experience.
If you got curious about these opportunities, you can check Erasmus+ projects currently recruiting participants at the following pages: