Duración de la movilidad: 7 días
Organización de envío: Asociación Cultural Muxelka, Agencia Nacional Española,
Organización organizadora: Agencia Nacional de Erasmus+ de Chipre
Time flies as they say and it’s already been a month since my experience took place. It was on September 28th evening when I arrived in Cyprus after three flights in a row (yep, that happened). It wasn’t my first time there, oddly enough I’ve lived in Cyprus for six months during my Erasmus exchange. This was my first time at an international seminar though, so it was kind of estrange to be back at the same place I knew but in a completely different environment. As I was saying, this seminar, called “From clicktivism to activism”, aimed to find new ways of engaging young people with activism hence implementing political participation. The 24 participants came from Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Romania, Spain and U.K.
Throughout this week-long seminar we went from understanding what is “participation” (and the new ways of participation) and how us, as youth workers, could put this learning to good use. I have to say, I was worried about how we could achieve a sound practical knowledge on such complicated matter as this is. But all my worries were put to rest by the end of the week. I realized how well organized this seminar was, how everybody had so much input and willingly participate in all the activities and debates. These activities included panel discussions, study visits, workshops and presentations (where I had the chance to participate, I will get there later on). So, most of this took place at our hotel in Nicosia. We had a pretty tight schedule, attending to all the seminar activities almost all day long, which my health didn’t take so well (thanks to the everlasting air conditioner) but that provided us with many handy tools and knowledge. The organizers tried to make it easier for us to withstand this marathonian days with games and appetisers. During the first day of seminar we got an introduction to the topics and we had the chance to hear an academical approach to the subject. The definition of participation and the different ways of civil engagement around Europe nowadays, we also were able to learn in detail about the Cypriot context.
For our second day we got to visit cypriot organizations where they tackle different issues related to the seminar. In my case, I chose to visit the Cyprus Community Media Centre. The first thing you should know is that this place is located in the UN buffer zone (it would take too much time to explain the cypriot conflict but long story short, Cyprus has an occupied zone since 1974. The UN established a no man’s land between the Republic of Cyprus and the occupied zone). The aim of this center is to give a voice to the youth and the local communities from both sides of Cyprus. So they can spread their messages to a wider audience. With the help of the community media, they hope civil society will engage in different forms with participation. (Also, for those of you who like fun facts or are some kind of cat people. This center actually has an award for taking care of the cats. There you go). After our visit, we came back to the hotel and we had the chance to hear about the other groups’ visits and finally had some spare time in the evening.
The third day was the moment chosen for us participants to share our practices. In my case I basically talked about how I tried to apply my sociology studies in college to what’s been happening in my region. I tried to explain my experience as a young person in all these social movements, and how they got into politics (with the new ways of participation and the so-called new political parties). Also pointing out how we just keep forgetting that absenteeism is also a part of the participation. Apart from me and the practices we could choose to attend, everybody had the chance to participate in a workshop about how to get young people engaged with voting organized by Kenny Imafidon, and boy did he deliver.
But if you ever watched the shinning you know what happens with “All work and no play…” So I was relieved to know we would have the whole afternoon for ourselves. It turns out it was also Cyprus national day so most of the people I know weren’t in Nicosia, thus I decided to revisit the old town and the occupied zone with a couple of other participants. The walk from the old town to the occupied zone is like Alice through the rabbit hole, just another world. If you know A Coruña, it would be like if there was a border at the end of Calle Real.
The fourth day was a busy one, with many seminar activities on “what it takes to participate” and an event in the evening where we went on debating about the cypriot landscape, the different ways of participation and so on.
We also had the chance to get more information about the Erasmus+, SALTO-YOUTH or how to get funding. We had the chance to sum up all we learned during the week and what can we do next. To be honest I didn’t expect to get as many useful knowledge and tools as I achieved during the seminar, but when we got to this last day and we checked our goals for the seminar I could say it was a successful one. There are things I learnt during that week I’m sure I will be using soon enough. By the way, I failed to mention we witnessed the great work of Paul Dimitru during the whole seminar. He had the task to shape in his drawings not only the activities, but the ideas we had every day. I encourage you to check this Facebook link where SALTO posted Paul’s drawings. So this was most of I think I could tell you people about my experience, and since the seminar was “from clicktivism to activism”, I just want to remind every possible reader that I got this amazing chance because I took the time to applied for this; so don’t lose the opportunity to try seminars, workshops, EVS or so many different experiences just because you didn’t even try. Be active!
R. from A Coruña
El artículo preparado en la colaboración con la Asociación Cultural Muxelka (www.muxelka.org)