So last week we had the chance to take part in a Youth Exchange in Monastero S. Vincenzo - Bassano Romano, Italy. A 16th century monastery about 60 miles north of Rome and set around the lakes.
Although it was a rushed project for us to take part in, i managed to find 4 eager youths to take part and for them it was the first experience of Erasmus+ and all it has to offer.
Here is what they had to say about it...
Luke Brown - 20 - Student at Falmouth University Cornwall,
This summer I participated in an Erasmus scheme, titled ‘Europe My Way’, I met some wonderful people and learned things about myself and the world around me. During our time in Italy, people from Greece, Portugal, Italy and the UK where encouraged to engage with each other through many different activities and focus sessions. We started off with ice breakers to get the group comfortable around each other, this to my surprise really did work as after just a few days I felt at home among the other participants, culture differences and language barriers became a fun and interesting part of everyday communication instead of a hindrance.
Every day is packed full of activities, this kept everyone busy and engaged. The breaks allowed for regular visits to the cafe where you can try an array of gelato flavours and drink small cups of strong coffee in the sun.
This trip has really helped my understanding of other cultures by allowing me to interact and converse with people that live by different customs and beliefs to my own. I also found it incredibly interesting to hear what people have to say on important issues happening across the globe, it helped to give a wider perspective on issues that are often portrayed in a very narrow fashion through the media. If another opportunity comes around I will definitely be encouraging my younger brother to participate as I feel this is an invaluable opportunity and If anyone is reading this and considering going, just go! You have nothing to lose, carpe diem.
Suki Fisher - 20 - Student at Falmouth University Cornwall,
It was a great experience and better than I had expected, the place was beautiful but the people I met there were the best part, everyone was so friendly and open minded with the shared intention of making new friends and learning about one another. I enjoyed hearing everybody's views about different issues in the world and comparing traditions and differences in etiquette from our own countries. I wish that more people were aware of these opportunities with hate crime becoming a growing problem in the UK I think it's more important than ever for people to meet and learn about different people and cultures.
Ford Neal- Fagan, 16 , student, london
Out of the blue i received a text from my friends dad asking if i wanted to go to Italy for a week , no details were mentioned but i was defiantly up for a week abroad . I then found out that expenses were mostly covered and that it was a youth exchange , i was sceptical at first because i had never been on a course like this - but i went along with it anyway as i though i week in Italy couldn’t possibly be a bad experience
I had no idea what we would be getting up to or who i would be spending my time with , i was slightly concerned i would have a week of awkward silences and smiles but that could not of been further from the truth !! I immediately got on well with the rest of the english people when we met at the air port , we were laughing and joking about the week to come . We began the week by getting to know each other and i was surprised by how easily i made new friends . The week was full of fun team building activities and activities designed to challenge our ways of thinking - i really liked these as they forced us to form strong relationships with each other !!
Over the course of the week i met so many amazing people and was having lots of fun every day - weather we were making a bridge to cross the floor of fire , or franticly rushing to catch a train back from our crazy day out in Rome . The whole experience exceeded my expectations and is up there with the best weeks of my life , great people , great weather , great food , what more could you want from a holiday . I am really happy that i was lucky enough to be part of a Erasmus youth exchange and i would strongly recommend it to anyone that has the chance !!
Jake Morley van Beelders, 16, student, London
As the day drew to an end, my best friend Ford and I sat in his room thinking about how we were going to procrastinate the rest of the holiday away. Suddenly, a beep from an IPhone echoed across the room that unbeknownst to us would change our summers for the better.
Being asked to go to a foreign country to do a youth exchange 5 days before it actually happens is enough to make any average person abrasive. But there was something enticing about the prospects of what appeared to be a free holiday, without knowing what we'd be doing in Bassano Romano we agreed to renew our passports and head off into the Gatwick jungle. A day before and without knowing much of what we were going to be doing we began to ask more and more questions. Letting our city life personas manifest and asking questions like 'Will there be Wi-Fi?'. We then discovered that we would be living with people from; Greece, Portugal, Italy and obviously the UK.
We would be engaging in team-building activities and having discussions about Europe. Initially, we were quite skeptical about whether or not we'd enjoy this being the sullen London teenagers that we are.
However, by the end of our adventure that took us from the bracchiano lake to the colosseum. We were very much satisfied by the experience that we had. The people we met are some of the most wonderful people I've ever spoken to. The food we ate was lovely although I'm sure everyone will agree the various adaptations of pasta got rather tedious after a few days. The activities whilst sometimes annoying in their agenda of making the kids and young adults view the world through subjective rose tinted lenses were impressively thought-provoking at times. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a great time in Bassano Romano, I'd like to say thank you to to all of team UK (Luke, Suki, Ford and John) for a great week with some great discussion. Especially thank you to John for bringing it all into place and letting us tag along. _Jake Morley Van Beelders London
So there you have it. This is exactly what Erasmus+ is all about.
Breaking down borders, youth and mobility.
We managed to take Cornwall to Italy and now have 30+ young people interested in coming here to visit our magical land.
We had a fantastic time and really want to do it again.
One small way in which we all felt connected from the UK was that Jake, although he lives in London, His Granny was actually the Mayoress of Bodmin! A quick records check on our return confirmed this and made our whole experience just that little bit more special...
The hosts, Antonella from Gruppo Pax organization were perfect and one day i hope to be able to return the kindness shown.
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