"ThinkerINg - citizenship and democracy” was a youth exchange that took place in Beja (Portugal) from the 24th of March until the 2nd of April 2018.
This exchange gave to the participants the opportunity to find creative ways through cultural and artistic activities in order to express themselves in the local community, not only with the body (through dance and theatre), but also with the mind (through sculpture, drawing or painting). This youth exchange empowered the participants to understand better the society, its democracy opportunities and the need of active citizenship in order to protect the democratic and European values. Every national group had the chance to present the situation of democracy in its community.
The objectives were to give to young people the opportunity to express themselves through artistic expression, like painting, video, theatre or dancing; raise awareness about opportunities and ideas aimed to active citizenship in their local communities; to open the mind of participants to multiculturality, social inclusion and democracy.
The youth exchange gave to the youngsters a better understanding of the society through different expression and communication methods, with several workshops:
Communication: how to use new technologies to communicate between ourselves through images on social medias.
- Visual and plastic arts: how to present our ideas from visual to physical shape.
- Dance: how to express using the body.
- Music: how to express through music.
- Theatre: how to express through performance.
24 of March - Arrival day
ThinkerINg ... 3,2,1, Action!
The project officially started today in the wonderful city of Beja, true Alentejo style. It was a very good start, because we had the opportunity to know each other with several ice-breaking games and team building activities.
There's a warm and welcoming atmopshere and we also had the opportunity to know the Portuguese culture from a very close point of view, after a glass of Porto wine
25 of March – Day 1
Good morning Beja! It feels wonderful waking up and realizing that we are in Portugal. We start the day with some name games, because the group is really big and it's always good to learn names from the beginning. All the morning activities were in "Casa da Cultura", equipped with a very spacious room; we shared expectations and fears and we learned more about Erasmus+ world. During the evening the participants started to work through artisitic expression: using creativity and energy, they found wonderful ideas for the project and made different boards. Music, food and Portuguese drinks in the night were the perfect ending of this day.
26 of March – Day 2
After the intercultural Portuguese night, we are ready for this crazy Monday! The group is very happy and motivated because they turned a "mission impossible" into a fantastic mission possible. We were lucky to discover and learn about different situations and points of view related to democracy and racism of every country involved in the project. After a great lunch, we had afternoon activities, where everybody liked the fantastic "Human Library", a nice way of sharing life experiences between participants. And to finish the day, there's nothing best than food and drinks from other countries, such as Estonia, Poland and Italy.
27 of March – Day 3
Our morning started with team building games, "Maracuja" and how to find a strategy as a group to reach our goal. We have a pleasant coffee break to eat and drink and after we present our workshops' ideas: dance, music, communication, arts and theatre. We all chose where we want to participate and we started working!
We had lunch at 1 pm with typical Portuguese food, which didn't make so much "success" between the participants. That's not a problem, because we enjoyed the sun until 3 pm! After, we came back to "Casa da Cultura" of Beja to work. At the end of the afternoon, we had a sign language workshop (that everybody loved), a reflection moment about our day, and back to our hostel!
28 of March – Day 4
Good morning beloved people from Beja!
How lucky to be in sunny and warm Beja! In "Casa da Cultura" we did an energetic energizer to wake up for real, proposed by the lovely Lério, that unfortunately didn't stay too much. (Lério we love you, see you for a beer in Lisbon!) After we started our daily activities to build group spirit, and after, back to work! The Art group started the 10 metres mural about a democratic city. The Music group start practising some tunes related to European feelings. In the Theatre group we expressed our emotions. Breakdance and Latin steps were the elements of the Dance group. In the Communication group, the participants started to make small interviews and to create hashtags for the project. We spent the first part of our day outside "casa da Cultura". After we were in a nice park in Beja where we continued our workshops, we listened to music and enjoyed the sun, we created arts and bound connections with European feelings. We could have said more things, but it's always nice to leave out some surprises, so stay in touch for more news!
29 of March – Day 5
The international day "Give a hug to Tekla", created by Tekla's secret friend, started with a real Portuguese brekfast. Sleepness and fatigue were floating in the air meanwhile some participants rushed to the showers before Beja's cultural visit. The moment I opened the water and the first drops were running down my skin, Peter, my group leader, called my name. I thought we had to go out out at 10, as we planned the night before, but I was wrong. I quickly finished my morning refreshment and I ran to the entry to join the rest of the group.
The Archeological Museum of Beja was smaller than I thought, but there was a nice exhibition about the city's history, from Pre-Roman age until nowadays. After, we went to the town hall, where the President welcomed us, giving us a CD and nice words. We also had the opportunity to go to Beja's castle, with a history full of adventures, protecting both muslims and christians. After the visit, we still had time to visit the city by our own.
Our lunch was really delicious, which was chicken with potatoes. As usual, we started the afternoon with our workshops, followed by a coffee break and reflection time. The dinner was something "cheesy-fishy-mayonnaisy", but quite good. To finish the day, some participants did a workshop on "New connections", about how to create deeper connections between us and smaller groups. First, we meditated and after we built binds between us and we answered to deep and complex questions into groups of three people.
After this half tiring and half satisfactory day, we had the opportunity to go out at night, which most of the people did. Other people stayed in the hostel to talk and to drink (moderately), which was also fun!
At the end, this day was full of interesting and intense activities. I think we all had fun, or at least I know I did!
Janos Belteki (Hungary)
30 of March – Day 6
Today was a tiring day, but inspiring. As Rauno from Estonia, who's facilitating the Theatre group, said: "Today it was really inspiring for me because I had the opportunity to use new methods and games in the Theatre group. Those people were full of motivations and good emotions. We did meditation and after we painted our emotions while we were listening to music. We also prepared our performance and we cooperated with the Music group, because we are going to perform altogether".
On the other hand, Andre from Slovakia shared some words about the dance workshop: "For me this workshop is really funny and interesting because I never dance and I like the fact that I'm learning new steps and helping to create a coreography. I prefer breakdance. This workshop gives me samba steps, breakdance and typical dances from Greece and Cyprus. I like it a lot and working with other people is exciting!
Claudia from Italy, who's hepling in the Music group, said: "The Music group is improving. The show is already tomorrow and we are ready. The refugees will have a vocie in this and Beja will listen".
Tekla, one of the Hungarian participants from the Communication group: "Today the Communication team finalized the last details of the videos that will be edited and it was really funny and interesting to speak during the "pictures with the panda" and the individual interviews".
Aleksandra, from Poland, didn't manage to write something about this day, but the Art group which she's in, is increasingly improving its mural: "It's almost ready and I really like it", she said.
31 of March – Day 7
Uhhhh! It's time for our final show and we're all ready! In the morning we had the opportunity to check everything and doing the last rehearsal. In the afternoon, the group was in the centre of Beja, at Portas de Mértola. Just an ordinary day in this square, but when the group started to perform and to show the mural, the place was getting crowded and more crowded. First, the Theatre group did a powerful and thrilling show about refugees' crisis, followed by the Music group, with beautiful songs in Greek and Italian language. To finish, the Dance group gave us an emotional thrill ride with a dynamic and relaxing performance at the same time, with breakdance and latin dances. Meanwhile this was happening, the more curious were observing the masterpiece "Democracity", that was covering one of the buildings in the square. Good job people! :)
1 de Abril – Day 8
Ah! They are all so tired, yesterday night was the celebration of our fantastic work with an ActionBound in Beja! And today, we do the evaluation of the project. In general they are all happy and at the end of the day we feel a connection between all of us, figuratively and literally, as we passed a string of wool between each one of us to express our feelings and conclusions. And thinking about the future, each national group will decide their follow-up. At the end of the day, we celebrate once again, with a dinner at "Casa do Benfica", having a special YouthPass plate accompanied by a fantastic video about Racism made by the Communication group. After this big dinner, let's go to rest, because tomorrow it's time to leave :-( goodbye Beja!
Associação Check-IN (Portugal)
"Associazione Agrado" is a local Italian organization that organizes projects, activities and initiatives to promote personal development, to develop skills and competences of adults and young people through non-formal education. Associazione Agrado organizes youth exchanges, seminars, training courses, European Voluntary Service projects, and Key Action 2 (Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices) within the Erasmus+ Programme. They work with topics such as Human Rights, conflict resolution, discrimination and psychological methods of personal development and communication ("transactional analysis").
The Estonian NGO Maidla Noored, created in 2009, it works with young people from 7 to 25 years old. Its obejctive is to organize different activities of informal education to empower young people to discover themselves and worldwide nowadays topics, through several local, regional and international projects. Besides that, they aim to motivate young people to be more active and to take part in discussions, events and to act as leaders, and to include other young people in their activities.
VIBE is a non-formal group whose objective is to create opportunity for young people in order to participate more actively in the society and give contributions to social changes. VIBE focuses basically on topics such as arts, creativity, literacy and marketing communication. VIBE already implemented two youth exchanges in Slovakia: “Recycling with Creativity” and “Art that will change you”, and also coordinating the youth exchange “Art of Recycling” in Turkey.
“PlanBe, Plan it Be it” is an NGO and non-profit organization based in Nicosia, managed by a team of youth workers. Their goal is to give contribution to positive social changes. The mission of the organization is to develop non-formal education, enterpreneurship, creativity, investment in heritage, environmental awareness, defense of democracy, human rights and development of tolerance and solidarity between young people. “PlanBe” give access to everyone, including young people with fewer opportunities, to develop their personal and professional life.
“Hungarian Volunteer Sending Foundation” (HVSF) was founded by a group of enthusiast young people with the objective of participating in development and humanitarian projects organized by Hungarian or international institutions, guaranteeing the preparation of volunteers and to promote volunteering. Moreover, HVSF also takes part in Erasmus+ projects. This foundation mainly looks for contributions to build an international network made by an aware community trained to bring more equality and empathy to the world.
The organization “RA i DO” represents the cooperation between Polish and international organizations which promotes tolerance and the integration of the social, cultural and professional development. Its main tasks are mobility promotion, multicultural integration, cultural, social and economic cooperation; culture of different countries, regions, communities and religions. To achieve its goals, “RA i DO” gives support to people with disability and/or fewer opportunities, especially deaf and blind people and their families, including also events and activities that promote the tolerance and inclusion through non-formal and informal methods.
The group will be composed of 35 young participants and 7 teamleaders. Every country will be represented by 5 participants (18 to 30 years old) and one teamleader (25 to 40 years old). The Polish group will have one more participant (support participant).
The proposed activities will use non-formal education techniques: teambuilding activities, simulation, personal experiences, sharing of good practices, cultural visits, reflection groups, intercultural nights and creative workshops.
All the activities will take place in Beja, Portugal. Beja has a population of 35,854 inhabitants, in the Alentejo region. Beja was an important city in the past. Once home of the Celts, the city will be later named Pax Julia by Julius Caesar in 48 BC, during the peace with the Lusitans. Beja will be the host city and the main stage of this project.
Logístics in Beja
All the participants will stay in "Pousada da Juventude" (Youth hostel) in Beja, in 4 beds or 6 beds rooms. http://www.pousadasjuventude.pt/pt/pousadas/beja
If you have any questions about selection and preparation of participants please contact the partner organization of your country:
Hungary – Magyar Onkenteskuldo Alapitvany -
Italy – Associazione Agrado -
Slovakia - VIBE - Youth group for education and cultural development -
Estonia - MTÜ Maidla Noored -
Poland - Fundacja RAIDO -
Cyprus - PlanBe, Plan it Be it -
For information about the project, don't hesitate to contact us:
Telephone number: +351 212404136
This project is supported by: Erasmus+ KA1: Learning Mobility of Individuals, Portuguese National Agency, reference number: 2017-3-PT02-KA105-004747
More information about Erasmus+ Programme on: www.juventude.pt