(Bulgarian Youth Forum)
Many people have no clear idea what a Partnership Building Activity means and upon hearing this they start thinking about long boring sessions and endless strategic discussions, but actually it is not true at all. I had the honor to take part in a partnership building activity project called CIAO (Civic Involved Alliance of Organisation) implemented by Associazione Attiva-Mente in the frame of the “Erasmus+” programme. The project took part from 23rd of October to 31st November in the lovely city of Modica, Italy. Together with Brigita Nikova we were given the chance to represent Bulgarian Youth Forum, the organization in which we actively volunteer and I have to admit that this was an extremely interesting, productive and fruitful event.
We had the opportunity to meet representatives of different non-governmental organizations and institutions from 15 different countries including Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Sweden Jordan, Lebanon, Estonia, Tunisia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Georgia, Moldova and Bulgaria. The idea of the project itself was to create stable partnerships between the organizations involved, in order to support local projects and activities that counter the social exclusion of the young people in the society, their limited participation and prevent their radicalization towards jihadist or racist and xenophobic ideologies. The project managed to meet its goals and objectives and the youth workers from the involved NGOs were provided with anti- extremism tools in order to influence their local society and to work also on international level on the topic.
The objectives of the project were achieved through creative workshops, simulations, peer education workshops, discussions and group activities that allowed the youth workers to encourage the participation in the social life of their community. The methodology used included non-formal education, learning by doing and a lot of group activities that could be used later on by all the participants to work with people from different cultural backgrounds.
All the activities were very well- planned by the creative, flexible and inspiring trainers in the face of Cristina and Vincenzo. All the participants were given the chance not only to get to know each other, but also to learn more about the culture, the way of life and the situation in their own countries, regarding the topic of the project. Every country had the opportunity to inform the others about the problem that its citizens are facing on local level, concerning radicalism, discrimination, hate speech, propaganda, stereotypes, freedom of speech, etc. It was interesting for the whole group of participants to see how the problems faced by their local societies are similar to the ones that exist in countries with totally different culture, way of life or religion. This was the point that united us and gave us lots of ideas for future partnership and collaboration.
Last but not least, discovering the local culture and traditions was a real excitement. Trying dishes typical for the local cuisine, walking in the narrow, cobbled streets of Modica, eating the local desserts, feeling the atmosphere of the city was an amazing experience that contributed to the success of the project!