03 January 2018

CY-130 "Our Europe - Our Future", Limassol, Cipru

After the adventures in Spain for the Job Shadowing project, my EFYL experience continued with a Practice project, this time in Cyprus. However, as exciting as December in Limassol sounds, there was little time to actually enjoy the great weather of Cyprus in winter. But we had, indeed, time for that, especially on our first and second days of the project.

On the first day, we got to know each other and to learn the Cypriot culture and language, the traditional one, not the Greek one. We found out that although Cyprus has its own language, not a lot of people actually speak it, since the 3 most spoken languages are English, Greek (in the South) and Turkish (in the North). Moreover, if you ever go to Cyprus, take good care if you visit the Northern part of it, since there is no European Embassy there that can help you if anything happens.

The second day of the project was also our free day, and we had time to enjoy the seaside, the cultural objectives, or the city center. A part of the Romanian team joined the Spanish one in order to visit the Amathus Ancient Ruins.

And from the third day, we started the sessions about the European Union, and especially about human rights and how they are treated around the world. We debated matters such as discrimination and types of discrimination, bullying, social inclusion, public opinion, and so on, we realized how much they can and are affecting people throughout the world, with or without intention. We role-played different situations and worked on finding solutions for them, put ourselves into the shoes of people from several social groups, or even wrote whole life-stories out of a simple fraze. 

We organized a flashmob in order to promote human rights, by offering free hugs and positive thoughts to people, but also by raising awareness through pointing out facts about how human rights are violated in the world.

Finally, of course that the intercultural night could not miss from the project, every country having the chance to share traditional food and drinks and a presentation about the most important things that we should know about their country. The Romanian team also teached the other participants how to dance “Brașoveanca” and, since Christmas was near, we sang them a Christmas carol, “Dom’, Dom’, să-nălţăm!”.

The whole project was one of the best experiences I had in 2017, not only because I have learned so many new things about human rights and about the world, but also because, by being the team leader, I felt a constant responsibility for my team members and I learned, between other things, especially to put others before me, both in decision making and in the chance for participating in activities. 

As for my former teammates, now friends, some of them were on their first project, others have been in youth exchanges before, but they all felt just as excited as myself about this project, but I will let their own words to speak for themselves:

“Another Erasmus project, a new adventure. I was very excited to receive the mail that announced that I was part of the group of Romanians who will participate in this project.

I prepared myself early, with some information on the subject of the project, but to my surprise, it was not necessary. All activities went so well that everything came by itself, me and all the members of the project, I caught the information in flight easy, because many of them were presented in the form of exciting games or presentations. 

"All this information, and the opportunity to socialize with so many people, with different cultures and traditions, have contributed a lot to my personal development, and that in a relaxing and fun way. I think such an opportunity deserves to be used to the maximum and I am glad that I took part in this project.” - Ana Balteș, 19

“This was the first project of this kind that I took part in. As a consequence, I had nothing to compare it to and had not known what to expect of it, but I can say for sure that I really enjoyed every hour spent there, and found it extremely useful and interesting. Apart from the fact that I got the chance to learn a lot of new things, I met some amazing people and spent a great time together. More than this, the Romanians were unbelievably nice and I am more than glad to have had the chance to make a team with them. All that I can say is that the experience was more than I had expected and it made me think of taking part in others in the future.” - Oana Penciu, 20

“To begin with, I can describe the whole exchange as full of educational resources and also sprinkled with funny moments which accomplished their role as team-builders. Moreover, the information was qualitative and gave me a picture of Europe that I have never heard about before, meaning the growing far right movement in Europe and how they are threatening fundamental human rights. Also, putting ourselves in the skin of the immigrants made me actually understand how harsh their situation is and how reckless and blind the far right is when promoting speeches that encourage violence and social exclusion. So happy I have been in Cyprus for this outstanding experience, which also included perfect weather :). Looking forward for another amazing exchange which will raise awareness in the way this one did!” - Mihnea Călugăru, 20

“I think that this exchange made me develop personally, both because I had the chance to meet new people, and to connect with them, to share experiences, thoughts, and feelings; and because I became aware that our behavior, the collective one and as individuals, is not yet to the right path regarding human rights, and respecting and caring for each other. I hope that in the future I will have the chance to learn more about how I can make a real change.” - Eduard Oprea, 20

“My experience with the Erasmus+ project ”Our Europe, Our Future” was a complete and a memorable one. First of all, the people met during this project are very interesting and it was a pleasure spending time with them. Both the trainers and the participants were very friendly and I learned a lot of new things from them.

The activities conducted during the project were aimed at increasing the awareness regarding human rights. I believe that all the tasks and the activities that took place reached and fulfilled their objectives. One of the most thought-provoking activities addressed the social inequalities and how these differences affect the rights of those involved. It mainly consisted in each participant receiving a social role, and, starting from a line, each one had to make a step forward for each question she or he could answer with ”yes”, thus showing the social opportunities that specific role had in the society. In the end, certain participants were far in front of others, illustrating the differences between the favored social groups and the unfavored ones. 

Overall, the mixture of captivating activities, interesting people and beautiful places, made this project to become an enriching experience.” - David Onel, 22

Daria Ionescu