12 July 2018

YE - ”Coop'Action", 20.06.2018-30.06.2018, Bédeille, France

On the 20th of June 2018, 5 ambitious young people from Romania and Republic of Moldova (Roxi, Laszlo, Iulia, Andra and Catalin) met for the first time in the airport, while waiting for their flight. Still sleepy, but filled with enthusiasm, they didn’t know what to expect from such a project since neither of them had ever been involved in one.

We started our journey to beautiful and picturesque Bedeille, located between the Pink City, Toulouse, to the north and the towering Pyrinees to the south.
As soon as we arrived we were welcomed with warm handshakes, friendly smiles and we had the pleasure to meet the other participants from Czech Republic, Poland and France. By driving on the winding roads, we soon got a glimpse of Ariege, the region in which we were going to spend ten unforgettable days.

Some of the participants

The main goal of the youth exchange was to promote a more cooperative way of living, to teach young people about what cooperation means, how to build a strong group dynamic all this while learning how to become more sustainable.
The day following our arrival we started our activities with some get to know games, energizers and a fun exercise to get accustomed to the place. Then we discussed about decision making, how to be active in a group and how to contribute to the collective life.
There was little time for rest the following days since we were soon off to a farm in Cazeres where we learned about how people with very different daily occupations can live and work collectively. We also made our own bread and following the farmers example we established rules for our short stay in Bedeille. 
We got the chance to visit Saint Girons during the summer solstice festival, attended a bonfire in Le Mas-d’Azil and explored the marvelous Toulouse by taking part in a funny and interactive treasure hunt. Our evenings were filled with activities that made us bond and also strengthened the idea that teamwork is what makes us grow as individuals.

The picturesque accomodation

We also had a swap skills day where everybody got the chance to propose their own workshops or games and we got the chance to go through a great deal of activities. 
The last days were filled with joy and laughter as we travelled on foot through the refreshing french forests being amazed by the breathtaking views that region had to offer.
Unfortunately, the day of the departure soon arrived and the welcoming handshakes turned into warm embraces, the friendly smiles turned into teary eyes as everybody said “Goodbye, until we meet again!”

Catalin Luca: 10 days on a small french farm, being surrounded by great people and having the opportunity to learn so many things, was a beautiful and rewarding experience for me. We had a lot of engaging and amusing activities, like the NASA game, making bread or the little hike we took. Throughout the exchange, we learned more about sustainable and collective living, recycling, the reuse of resources, and waste management. Moreover, thanks to the wonderful people I met there, I found out more about the polish, czech and french culture. We had the chance to share stories, experiences, knowledge, while improving our communication and listening skills. Cooperation was the key to a successful project. Working as a team made us more tolerant, receptive and efficient.
The hike

Roxana Dumitrescu: This experience has given me the opportunity to learn more about sustainable living and about cooperation. Thanks to this project, I got to experience a collaborative lifestyle while also learning how to be self sufficient. Our activities were diverse from learning how to make bread and cheese, to playing cooperatives games and learning some acrobatics. 
What’s more, I got to discover other cultures and also share with the rest some of the participants traditions and dances from Romania. 
Overall, it was a great experience that helped me get out of my comfort zone and be more tolerant. I would recommend it to everyone that wants to try something new, meet beautiful people and learn something new.

Watching the sunset together

Iulia Popescu: At first, I didn’t know what to expect from this youth exchange. However, throughout the duration of the project, I have realized that it was not only about cooperation and sustainable living, but also about respect, integration, tolerance and understanding. The way we made our own rules and how everyone contributed to a cooperative and peaceful environment showed how easy and more efficient can cooperation be. Similarly, we got to know each other thanks to the many diverse activities we did. From making bread and cheese, to doing simple cooperative games, to learning some acrobatics or yoga. In spite of creating a cooperative setting, everyone was happy to share their unique characteristics, be themselves and share their passions and interests. All this in an incredible location that invited us to appreciate simple aspects of life, live simple and be happy. 
At the end of this project, I feel I have grown into a more empathic person, both to people around me and to the environment. It was also a great reminder that we have so many things to be grateful about and most importantly, that we can share them with amazing people. 
Therefore, I would recommend this youth exchange to anyone who wants to learn more about cooperative living and environment sustainability whilst meeting inspiring people from different cultures.
Making bread

Andra Olteanu: Coop Action was my first youth exchange so I had mixed feelings about what would happen.
The little farm, that was surrounded by the forest on one side and green fields on other side, was the perfect place for such projects.
We participated in various activities from learning how to make bread and cheese to learning traditional dances from other countries.Thanks to this project I understood what it meant living a sustainable live and how I can improve my life towards being more aware about waste and how we can recycle more efficient. We had to make everything by ourselves like making our own living rules,our food,our cleaning,thus after the 10 days I became more tolerant with other people.
I had the opportunity to learn about the French,Polish and Czech cultures and discover new interesting things about them.
Overall for me it was an adventure that got me out of my comfort zone,helped me to learn a lot about myself and how to be more cooperative.

The hike

Laszlo Kanyo: I enjoyed every aspect of this youth exchange and I am grateful for the wonderful experience. I strongly believe that such projects develop you, make you grow into an internationally minded person. Meeting so many people from such different places may be a little overwhelming at first but you soon realize that you are actually really similar, young people who share interests, dreams and have a lot of inspiring stories to tell. It was a pleasure to get to know so many people and I can say that some real friendships were made during this exchange. Memories of these great times spent together will last forever.