By Chikulupi Kasaka
Team Red arrived in Barcelona in the wake of Monday 9th May 2016 from A Corña through the overnight Interrail train. Upon arrival, our hosts Aegee-Barcelona came to pick us up and took us to our accommodation at St. Christopher’s’ Inn Hostel. In the evening of the same day, the team had a workshop with youth in Barcelona. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the Europe on Track 3 Project, a “Where Does Europe End?” exercise and ended by discussing youth mobility and their experiences with traveling abroad, exchange programmes as well Erasmus programmes.
With Youth mobility session, participants were told to share their experiences concerning traveling abroad or within Europe and with regard to exchange programs or European voluntary service. We all discovered that, many of them have experienced youth mobility in one way or another. Many of them have enjoyed borderless Europe and the freedom of movement, either through touring with family and friends, through the Erasmus program, through AEGEE or through internships and placements. Some of the participants have been in more than 20 European countries. The exercise inspired other fellow participants who have little exposure to mobility to apply for similar kind of opportunities in future.
After realizing that many participants have crossed many borders within Europe through their youth mobility experiences, Team Red gave them a more challenging exercise. The team divided participants into two groups and gave them blank maps of Europe and asked them “Where Does Europe End?” At the end of the exercise, we had two different versions of European maps. Doina Volcu from Moldova seemed to be well knowledgeable of the history and the borders of Europe. She took the liberty to explain to the rest of the participants about the borders she and her team drew. She explained more about Ural Mountains, which for many people borders Europe and Russia. She talked about the Ottoman Empire and its influence in Turkey. Indeed, the exercise was more challenging and educating to many participants.
A short presentation about Youth mobility followed. The presentation was more centered on Erasmus Plus and its goals. Erasmus Plus is the EU programme for Education, Training, Youth, and Sport 2014-2020. It is a new approach towards maximizing youth mobility and exchange programmes through a single integrated programme. Erasmus programs run through centralized activities at the European Union level and through decentralized activities at the National level, for example, the Erasmus Plus-UK.
Erasmus plus widens opportunities for youth mobility by making it sustainable. More than 2 million higher education students will study and train abroad. 650 000 vocational students will spend part of their education and training abroad. 200 000 Master’s students will benefit from a new loan guarantee scheme and more than 25 000 scholarships for Joint Master Degrees. 500 000 young people will volunteer abroad and take part in youth exchanges and 800 000 lecturers, teachers, trainers, education staff and youth workers to teach or train abroad.
Participants were of the opinion that, despite existing massive opportunities for young people, and a genuine intention to enhance mobility, there is a dire need to disintegrate information about the Erasmus Plus programme at the grass root level. Most young people are more aware of the former Erasmus programme but not of this new approach. Otherwise, they think Erasmus Plus is a great deal for fostering youth integration and mobility within Europe.
The workshop ended with participants filling in a short questionnaire about Europe. Europe on track team is thankful to AEGEE-Barcelona especially to Claudia, Jordi, Bruna and Catalina for their hospitality. See you somewhere in Europe!