Search This Blog

Monday, December 8, 2014

GHRD Report: Youth in Action: Keep Active and Change your Life, Puente Genil, Spain by Syd Boyd, Communications Intern

In October 2014, I attended a week long training for Youth in Action in Puente Genil, Spain. The training was called “Keep Active and Change your Life” and was organised by the Spanish NGO Camaleon Rojo. The aim of the course was to empower European youth by providing greater understanding of the European job market, as well as methods to approach the job-hunting process. The programme was attended by four groups from different nationalities, the Italian team, the Austrian team, the Spanish team, the Polish team, and last but not least, the Dutch Team. Drawing on the resources compiled by teams from five countries, the trainee was provided with a comprehensive understanding of the European job-market and was equipped with skills to deal with the difficulties of securing a career in a difficult economic time. It was a fantastic experience and I feel privileged to have attended. I gained massive cultural experience and learned a lot during the training, and had the opportunity to meet highly motivated and inspirational people.

The training was intensive, starting every day at 08.00 and ending every day at around 22.00. The training consisted of a lot of role-playing and presenting. Main activities included, playing the Stereotypes game, partaking in Cultural Evenings, doing Energizers, defending a point of view, preparing an Interview and a CV, learning about news ways to present a CV such as the Video Curriculum format, and creating a song based on our experiences during the training. All team exercises were highly educational, especially as they involved interacting with people from different cultures with different mind-sets. I found I could deal with it quite well, and felt that despite different cultural approaches, there were basic human similarities that we could lock on to.

Besides activities directly related to the Youth in Action training, we were invited to participate in several cultural outings. Of course, being with so many different cultures was a training in itself, and we learned loads about the various cultures that were represented. Cultural excursions were an important part of the trip. Our first excursion was a visit to the town hall of Puente Genil, to meet with the Mayor. Local journalists were present, and country group leaders were asked to speak about the Youth in Action programme. It was nice to make the Puente Genil newspapers. An excellent part of the trip was the visit to Cordoba, what a fantastic city. It was about 28 degrees, and we spent the day sight-seeing. It was an amazing experience. The city used to be an important part of the Muslim Caliphate, and had impressive Muslim architecture. I was blown away by a mosque we visited, which had been converted to a Christian church. I had never seen anything like it. It was a bizarre mixture of Mosque and Church, with Christian paraphernalia adorning three of the walls, the fourth wall was still covered in Muslim temple art. The vast hall was like some ancient Middle Eastern prayer room, with sand coloured columns a sprawling flagstone floor. The ceiling was very high, and the whole thing looked like a massive desert cave, and very impressive. For the rest of the afternoon we walked through the historic part of the town, as well as the beautiful bridge leading out of Cordoba. A few of us spent a considerable amount of time shopping for souvenirs. It seemed to be no obstacle that pretty much every tourist shop was exactly the same, as we nipped into the next tourist shop available after having just left the first.

In conclusion I found the whole experience tremendously valuable. Meeting the people from the other countries and developing a close relationship with them provided us all with a profound experience of each other’s culture, as well as throwing light on our own culture, and the things we do without thinking about them, as they are supposedly normal. The training was interesting too, as it enabled me to unravel my thoughts about job hunting, as well as passing on some information that had been very helpful to me. The atmosphere was fantastic and reflected in the ongoing Facebook group, which for two weeks after the training is still used as a contact point for participants from all teams, and where all photos are uploaded and further arrangements are made for meeting up in the participant countries. Everyone made a great effort, and people who at the start of the week were having difficulties with English improved in leaps and bounds. It was a pleasure to see people’s confidence and expertise improve in such a short time. Public speaking skills were greatly improved, as everyone was expected to get up in front of the group and present various role playing activities. Initially, some people were considered designated public speakers, but as the programme went on, everyone gained confidence and the skill to present, and present well in English no less. To some the experience was even life changing, as confidence increased and new horizons were delineated. Whereas previously participants had a fixed view of life and how it should be lived, now opportunities were limitless, and not bound by past conditioning. In short, the Youth in Action training programme contributed to the personal freedom of the participants, and as such achieved a worthy goal. I was inspired by the other people I met, as they were all outgoing, positive, and adventurous individuals, who had faced and overcome various challenges in their lives, and had a wide array of skills and pursuits. Certain characteristics I noticed in some of the participants I will emulate, as I was deeply impressed by them. In short, it was a privilege to have been able to attend the Youth in Action training.

No comments: