29 July 2022

Youth Exchange - [PT-525] EmpowerMe: Media and Digital Literacy for Inclusion and Diversity, 11.07.2022-18.07.2022, Guimarães, Portugal

On the 10th of July, 4 people met for the first time in the airport to leave for an Erasmus+ project in Portugal. There they met their youth leader and spend 8 days together with people from 6 other countries (Spain, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Portugal) and debated social problems, finding out more about disabilities and how can we improve life for those.

The project was called EmpowerMe: Media and Digital Literacy for Inclusion and Diversity which can be translated in many ways, based on what we learnt. It can be an Empower Me to help the others as I have the possibilities, to pay more attention about people’s needs, to be more inclusive for those who want to be a part of it. But it can also mean, for some of us, that even if we have a disability, seen or unseen, we can still do what we desire, we got the strength to do it and we should believe in ourselves as modern technology gives us the possibility our grandparents didn’t have.

Socially, we made a lot of new friends and learnt a lot of fun-facts about their countries, proving us that, even if we have different backgrounds, we also have our similarities – and this is about inclusion in diversity.

To get a little bit more personal, we would like to share our thoughts and feelings about the project, so here we are:

Adela: It was an opportunity for me to learn about a country I’ve never been to, and to learn that we have a lot in common, even if we are in different part of Europe. I could also see a united group, the whole participants, as they seen little details about one another and gave loving notes to those who needed it. It was the proof I needed to understand that, even if my generation hides their feelings, deep down, we care about one another and try to help, if we can. This project was also about solidarity, as a characteristic that bring people together.

Adriana: It was an absolutely indescribable experience for me. I will remember it for the rest of my life. Erasmus+ programs are more about cultural exchange rather than just studies. I have met many people that changed my life in just one week and I am sure that some of these friendships are for life.

Alexandra: As a youth leader, I can say that I had a great opportunity in supporting a group of young persons during their first Erasmus+ experience, contributing to the programme development and assuring that the participants have an enriching, useful and safe experience. The topic of the mobility was especially interesting to me, because I work in Communications and also talk to young people about digital literacy, inclusion & diversity. Another great part of my experience during this youth exchange was meeting people from different countries, having impactful conversations and making friends.

Flavia: This was my first Erasmus+ experience. At first, I was a little nervous but ever since I got to know the other participants, all the fears disappeared. The sessions were very interesting and I learned a lot of new things, even though I study the same subjects in college. I had time to make connections with other young people, visit the city and have fun.

Iulia: Hi, there! For me, this Erasmus+ project was not my first one but, for sure, it was one of the best. I think the volunteers and the coordinators did a great job, especially with more than 40 people taking part. Also, the guests had a big impact over the group and we are thankful for their time spent with the group. I am grateful for the knowledge I accumulated in this short period of time. And I hope I will see at least some of the participants again!

Ruxi: I can't believe that this youth exchange is over... It was a wonderful experience! For me, this youth exchange in Guimarães, Portugal was my first Erasmus + project. When I got there, all the people greeted me with smiles on their faces. I have to admit that I was a bit anxious at first, because it was a completely new experience: we were people from 6 different countries and nobody knew each other. But by the end of this youth exchange, from strangers, we became friends. The sessions from the project "EmpowerMe: Media and Digital Literacy for Inclusion and Diversity" were interactive and helped me discover more things about the digital era, about how to distinguish between what is good and what is bad in the online environment. Each topic of discussion (fake news, free speech, hate speech, etc.) was explained very well, with current examples. It was an interactive learning, because we, as members of the project, had to look for examples and get involved in discussions. It was really fun and helpful!
It seems to me that an Erasmus + project is a "must" that everyone should experience at least once in their life! It was a journey about self-knowledge and knowledge of the world we live in, including the topics of discussion that we had in this youth exchange, but also the discussions that the project members have outside the sessions, related to their lives and the country they come from. It was a wonderful experience and I thank all the people who were part of it! I hope I will see them soon!

P.S.: now i am searching for another project, so see you there!✨