17 October 2023

#Youth4Bauhaus | The green and smart city of the future takes shape under the guidance of the younger generation

#Youth4Bauhaus, 22nd-26th of May 2023, Bucharest, România.
📷 Lais Pereira, Ana Dinis

Between 22nd-26th of May 2023, the fourth LTTA of the #Youth4Bauhaus project - ‘Design Think Your City: Braga’ took place in Braga, Portugal. During this period, a group of 40 students from Slovakia, Belgium, Romania and Portugal participated in workshops, visits, debates and public presentations. 

Their objective was to meet and co-create the city of Braga, using the New European Bauhaus principles: Beautiful, Sustainable, Together, all of this designed and represented digitally in Minecraft. On the 25th of may, they did the public presentation where they presented the project results to an entire school community. 

This project emerged with the launch of the New European Bauhaus initiative, of which GEYC is a partner. The role of the project is to encourage young people to actively participate in decision-making regarding the co-creation of public space in their cities in a sustainable, ecological and inclusive way. 
Young individuals bear a significant responsibility in shaping such choices, as their decisions impact not only their future lifestyle, work, and leisure activities, but also have big implications on the future of our planet. 

 Here's how it was:                                                                                                                                      

These are the opinions of the young people who participated in this stage about what this project represented for them:

‘This project was one of the best educational experiences I've ever had and I'm very grateful I was part of it. The things that made it so valuable were not only the academic parts but also the friends we made along the way. I really enjoyed learning and experimenting in the field of architecture, it made me feel very smart and it was amazing to see how many ideas a group of teenagers can have. My teammates were all very cool people and we created a very safe space in which everyone's voice mattered. 
The intercultural night was amazing, after this experience I can assure you that I know more about the countries involved than I knew before. We had a lot of fun dancing together and embracing each other's culture. The music and the traditional clothing were very beautiful and I believe that we truly connected. In this project, I've learned so much about how it feels to belong to a global community. It's a very liberating feeling to see how other people from other backgrounds share the same joys and sorrows in their own way. I gained more trust in other people and expanded my views on what it means to belong to a community. My interest in learning about new cultures is now bigger than ever and I feel very motivated to continue participating in this type of project.’ - Paula Benu 

‘Although this was my first time ever participating in such a project, I immediately felt right at home. Not only was the experience itself so educational and well thought out, but the people and the friendships I made were well worth traveling so far away from home. The diversity in both approaches and working parts for the project were what made the experience so interesting, and the value that was placed on team-work was outstanding. I never would have thought that an architecture project could work out amongst a whole team, but I was pleasantly surprised – every single person that I interacted with (and subsequently teamed up with during the bigger part of the project) managed to find their voice, aptly communicate everything they had in mind and aid each other in figuring out the perfect Minecraft world that would fit all our visions. 
Beside all the hard work that we placed into our Minecraft worlds, it was apparent how happy everyone was with sharing their cultural traditions and popular beliefs. The intercultural night was by far my favourite part in the whole thick of the experience; we managed to bond with one another, laugh, and teach each other some of our cultural dances and pivotal histories related to our countries. I can safely say that my view was expanded on what it means to celebrate and be well versed in other people's cultures. I am very thankful for the opportunity that I was given, and I hope with all my heart that I may be able to participate in this type of experience more in the near and far future.’ - Simina Pascal 

‘I have participated in tremendous official activities with educational aim, but I can wholeheartedly say that this Youth Exchange represents by far the most extraordinary experience that I have ever attended. Not only was it socially challenging and truly engaging, but what surprised me in the most beautiful way was the rigorous organization. I did not expect to have so much help by means of technical support, leaders who would guide us to make the best out of it, materials and gadgets at our disposal and not to mention the traditional delicious natas that we were served with every coffee break. What I have enjoyed the most, however, was the combination between traditional and digital art, physical and virtual reality. There was a shift between our cardboard project and the Minecraft world that felt somehow wellcome and natural. It seemed to me like a bonding between us, humans, and nature, going through the smooth transition from traditional to digital without separating one from another, but merging them into a spectacular project. 
In addition to all that was said before, I would like to also mention the diversity of all teams. By this I mean that everyone has a unique personality and a different perspective, but there was something that brought us together and that was the passion for beauty. Although we had various definitions of it, we managed to create the beautiful and sustainable city for all through the COZONAC concept: one of a kind qualities that together form an amazing and delicious recipe (in our case, the successful project:)). In the end, I found myself really lucky to have participated in such an exquisite activity and I can sincerely say that this trip will always have a special place in my heart!’ - Maria Benescu 

‘Stepping into the charming city of Braga, Portugal, I embarked on a life-changing Erasmus project that surpassed all my expectations. Nervous yet excited as a first-time participant in an international project, I joined forces with individuals from Belgium, Slovakia, and Portugal to make a positive impact on the areas surrounding Braga's beautiful river. In teams composed of five people who started as strangers, we began a journey of discovery. As we walked along the river, we had the opportunity to observe the beauty the river had to offer. With each step, we not only immersed ourselves in the surroundings but also uncovered the challenges faced by the eight areas we encountered. Even tho we walked a lot and everyone got really tired by the end, it was really fun and exciting, and a very interactive way of getting to know the places we were going to talk about for the next two days. The tasks we completed were not merely assignments; they were opportunities to delve deeper into the heart of Braga's issues. We understood the ecological imbalance, and witnessed the social and environmental struggles that demanded our attention. Together, we analyzed, brainstormed, and proposed innovative solutions.
The bond between team members grew stronger as we collaborated, exchanging ideas, and understanding different perspectives. Step by step, we saw the potential to make a positive difference in our area. The part of the river me and my team had to redesign had a lot of parking lots right next to the river, in a residential area that already had underground parking. What we decided to do was give this space back to the community by building parks, an outside gym area, accessible playgrounds, wildlife spaces and bike lanes, on top of trying to incorporate all the biodiversity that already existed there but was overshadowed by all the cars. Beyond the project, Braga's vibrant city's rich history and warm hospitality captivated me. Cultural exchanges became a daily occurrence as we shared traditions, language, and stories, fostering a true sense of unity. 
This Erasmus experience was more than just physical changes—it was the friendships formed and the personal growth achieved, from late-night conversations to spontaneous adventures, our bond grew stronger with each passing day. Braga will forever hold a special place in my heart, reminding me of the power of collaboration and the potential we have to create a better world. Grateful for the memories made and the transformative impact we accomplished together’ - Maria Calin 

‘Even though this was my first time participating in an Youth Exchange project, I believe this was one of the best educational experiences I’ve ever had. Not only was the experience so educational, but the friendships I made are very well worth traveling in the other part of the continent.I really enjoyed learning new things in the field of architecture, it was really interesting to see how a group of teenagers can have so many good ideas,in which everyone’s voice mattered. We worked in Minecraft Education, it wasn’t very hard for everyone to catch up with the ideas implemented by all the members.Since I was the one assigned to work on the minecraft world I was surprised what good ideas the members had. The intercultural night was by far my favorite part in the whole experience. As we didn’t know many things about other countries traditions, it was really interesting to share cultural traditions and dances, as well as some history about their countries.In the end, I found myself really lucky to have the chance to participate in such an interesting event and hope to be able to participate in this type of activity again.’- Alexandru Tane 

‘I loved this project, it was an amazing experience which taught me how to communicate better and work with other people. Project Youth4Bauhaus is about sustainability and is based on the use of Minecraft, a game that offers a seamless and immersive gameplay experience. The controls are intuitive, making it easy to navigate and interact with the world. This part was introduced to us later in the project, but it was very important. Before coming to Braga I only played it once, earlier this year, so I wasn’t really prepared. What I loved about this experience is the fact that nobody made me feel guilty about it, everyone helped me , when I needed it. I also learned a lot from the instructors and my team about design, architecture and teamwork. Working in Minecraft was hard at first, but step by step I managed to do my part of the project and with the support of my team I presented that world, even though I was scared. It was a lovely environment and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of Project Youth4Bauhaus!’ - Catinca Onofrei 

‘The experience offered by Erasmus was something really not to be missed, considering that in the short time we had at our disposal, we were able to integrate into a team and discuss the rehabilitation of the river, we were able to get to know the other participants,and at the same time, we discovered Braga. What I want to emphasize from this experience is the visit to Theatro Circo, because it’s an activity that is not included in the project program, but the Portuguese organizers had the pleasure of introducing it to us. I admit, I was amazed by the look of the theater, I think the details are of great finesse, and I appreciate that it is also used as a cinema. As far as I can remember, this is the first time they have introduced such an activity in an Erasmus project, so I wanted to mention that it is very much appreciated. I would definitely repeat this experience and sign up for other Erasmus projects in the future, because I feel like they help me develop my skills and make it easier for me to decide what i actually enjoy doing, so that i can use that in my future. Another thing I appreciated was the presence of the architects, because I feel like it motivates us to come up with the best ideas. Overall, the whole experience was very well organized, I’m already missing it!’- Eliza Radu 

‘Participating in the Youth 4 Bauhaus project was truly transformative for me as it brought me together with people from different countries, each with their own remarkable life stories, which profoundly influenced my perspective on the world. Although there were many remarkable experiences during this project, I especially want to share my thoughts on the intercultural night. The intercultural night gave me a remarkable platform to learn about different traditions, customs and ways of life. Witnessing traditional dances in each country has been a captivating experience, revealing how dance serves as a significant form of cultural expression, casting light on the history, values and social fabric of a nation.
Through these performances, I gained a profound understanding of the represented cultures and their unique artistic forms. Participation in the intercultural night encouraged mutual respect, appreciation and understanding between all of us participants. It served as an opportunity to debunk stereotypes, challenge assumptions and celebrate the immense diversity of our world.The involvement in such an activity allowed me to broaden my perspective, to develop my intercultural competences and to establish lasting connections with people from diverse backgrounds. Overall, my participation in the intercultural evening of the Youth 4 Bauhaus program was a memorable and enriched experience. It gave me a deep immersion in the traditions, dances and traditional clothing of Belgium, Portugal and Slovakia, while fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among all participants. This event not only promoted cultural exchanges but also contributed to my personal growth and the long-term development of a more inclusive and tolerant society. In conclusion, my involvement in the Erasmus+ project was the missing puzzle piece in my life, and it has ignited a passion within me to actively participate in similar projects in the future. This transformative experience has left an indelible mark on me, and I am determined to engage in as many projects of this nature as I can, seeking further opportunities for personal growth, cultural exchange, and fostering understanding among diverse communities.’ - Alexia Tubac
‘This project has been an amazing experience and I am beyond grateful that I was able to take part in it. Youth4Bauhaus has truly gave me some amazing memories that will be with me for a lifetime. I have made new friends, learned new things and gained a new sense of responsibility. Each activity helped me develop a new skill, be it social-by interacting with as many people as I could- or in the field of orientation. The second day in particular- during the walk acroșat the river- helped me develop my orientation skills and sharpen my decision-making. I had to use a map on which I had to take notes, something I had never done before. For the first time in my life I could not rely solely on the Internet as my guide, I had to look around me and notice the specific element that made me realize where I was on the map.
We also had to work on teams and I once again, interacted with people from each of the four participating countries. Despite the heat- that really tested our endurance- we managed to have fun, to see the trip through and to prepare ourselves for the activities of the next day- which heavily relied on our knowledge of the surroundings and our impressions of the river- that was where the notes that we took on the map came into play. Overall, it was hard, but amazing at the same time- which might be the word to describe the entire experience. A challenge for sure-but one that you look fondly upon in the future. So, once again, thank you, Youth4Bauhaus, for this wonderful journey!’- Spătaru Bianca 

‘This was an amazing experience and I am so grateful that i had the opportunity to be part of an international project and to work with amazing people. I made friendships that will last and I learned new things about architecture and also about me. When we arrived in Braga i was nervous but also exited because I couldn’t wait to meet the other children, with whom I became friends very quickly.
After two days of work and trips around the town, the intercultural night followed, which was also an amazing experience because we had the chance to learn things about the culture of the other people. It started with a surprise performance of the traditional dances from Braga. We had a lot of fun because we also danced and learned one of them. The traditional music and costumes were beautiful. The best part was that we left all of our worries behind and we all had a lot of fun together. It was amazing to see how people from different countries connect due to music. Then it was time for the presentations, which were very interesting and I learned new things and I also had fun. After everyone presented some of the children tried dancing traditional dances from the other country. It was amazing to see that we all appreciated the culture of the other people. In this project I learned how to use the differences to connect and transform into something beautiful.’ - Ana Grosu 

For more information about the New European Bauhaus, you can read here.