27 April 2016

“Stop feeling sorry, start acting” training course in Vidrike, Estonia

Do you want to find out more about youth exchanges and the amazing stories behind them? Well, Alexandra is sharing with you her amazing experience from “Stop feeling sorry, start acting” training course that took place in Vidrike, Estonia between 10-20 April 2016. 

Do you ever get restless? Like you want to do something, you want to go somewhere? I fell like that all the time. It was one of those restless moments when I applied for a training course in Estonia trough GEYC. I didn’t really know much about the subject – “No hate speech”, I thought it had something to do with bullying and discrimination, so I decided to apply. And, to be honest, I’m a bad traveler, I never do my homework. So all I knew about Estonia before leaving was that its capital city was Tallinn and it was across the sea from Finland.

So this is how much information I had leaving for the “Stop feeling sorry, start acting” training. I got on a bus, then a plane, then a plane, then a bus and another bus (Estonia is quite far away) and finally arrived in Vidrike on the 10th of April. Let me tell you, all that travelling was worthed. Estonia is gorgeous. The first thing that crossed my mind when landing in Tallinn was that everything was golden. In Vidrike, the place where the training took place, we had most amazing view of lake surrounded by forest. On the few sunny days we had, we would go down by the lake and relax. It was one of the best feelings in the world.

The training was also very good. Besides having a lot of fun and working in a creative environment, I feel that I have gained important knowledge both from the trainers and the other participants. We talked about rather delicate subjects such as racism, sexism, classism and we got a better understanding of what hate speech is. It was great to work with real life examples and to actually realize the extent to which hate speech affects us. I can say that I am more aware now of it and why I should try to make a difference.

One of the best discussions we had was about freedom of speech versus hate speech and how the online aria is developing. And here’s more on cats, unicorns and hate speech : 

If you want to know more about the “No hate speech” movement, you should check it out here : www.nohatespeechmovement.org , I highly recommend it. If we all do something small, we can make a big change. And for a more details on what we did during the project, we blogged about it : http://nohateestonia.blogspot.ro/.

But now, back to the fun part. I got to travel around Estonia: Tallinn, Tartu, Otepää, Valga and even crossed the border into Lativa. (video)

I also did all sorts of interesting things during the project – from getting a henna tattoo to drinking birch water, enjoying a magic show, having a proper sauna experience (yes, I did jump into an icy lake!) and Gestalt therapy. The intercultural nights were a blast! I learned a lot about Estonia and other countries. Apparently the highest mountain in Estonia is 318 meters and Greece has more than 300 days of sun a year! They could surely loan some to Estonia as well.

Another thing that’s amazing about trainings like these is the people that you meet. You get to experience their culture and see other points of view. For me it’s always a wonder how tight the connections can get with people you’ve just met, people who live thousands of kilometers away, yet they become some of your closest friends. It’s a feeling like no other. I found myself talking in Romanian one too many times to my new friends cause they just felt familiar. We laughed so much, we talked till dawn, we made plans. It’s safe to say that the list of people I miss is bigger now.

So if you want my honest opinion on this training or on trainings in general, here it is: they are an incredible opportunity to grow, to learn and to get out of your contort zone. I am better for it and it can also help you!