Day 1 Report
Good feelings and the beginning of a sustainable learning journey in the sunny mountains of Cyprus
The first day of the Youth Exchange ECO-Together in Cyprus has passed and the participants learned many new skills. Read on to find out about what we did during the first day!
- The day started around 8 o’clock with an amazing, delicious and nutritious breakfast. Many new faces, many new names to learn. About 50 young people from at least 8 different countries got to meet each other and play different name games.
Even though the sun shined so strong that you could barely open your eyes, we managed to remember (almost) all faces. One of the first activities we had was “a truth and a lie“. After that, we had an exciting round of speed dating, where we got to know each other a little bit better. Later, we enjoyed a traditional Cypriot lunch consisting of “gemista” (stuffed vegetables with rice), potatoes, olives, and chicken with beer.
- Anna from Catalonia and Katia from Ukraine feel positive about the first day. “I have a really good feeling. This is a nice group.”, says Anna.
The next activity was about expectations, fears, and contributions. To keep the energy level high, we danced on the terrasse and had to form letters, animals, and other pantomimic gestures. We talked about our group responsibilities, and that is why you have the honor to read this beautiful article right now!
- We did another activity to compare how each national team understands the meaning of environmental sustainability and we saw all the different perspectives. Our engineering skills got tested during the “egg challenge “. Almost all teams were able to save their egg from breaking from a 2-meter fall. Maybe there will be a national championship about throwing it from the balcony – stay curious we’ll keep you updated! 🙂
To find out about the Youthpass key competences, we did another activity; Some of us explored the village and took many pictures. To round up the day, a self and group reflection in national teams followed.
- Katia liked the egg challenge the most: “It was interesting for me!” Both girls, Anna and Katia, are looking forward to learning many new things: “I hope to get to know more about sustainability.”, says Anna, and Katia adds: “I’d also like to learn more about the 4R’s.”
Day 2 Report
Participants in action!
After long and good-quality sleep, we started the second day of the project. During the world café activity, we discussed different topics. Some of them were:
- Is green growth cool?
- Is being eco-friendly a trend?
- Can we save the planet by ourselves?
- Does social class matter when it comes to being eco-friendly?
Later, we were divided into national teams and talked about the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, which is about climate action. We shared our countries’ practices, which were all related to CO2 emissions – from fossil fuel combustion to cement production, which are embodied not only in imports but also in fossil fuel exports.
With our national teams, we had to choose the major challenge of our country according to the world statistics of the Sustainable Development Report. Most countries had more or less the same problems – electronic waste, life below water, satisfaction with public transport, etc.
We were introduced to the 4 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse) with a very entertaining game. Each mixed-group team represented an island. By answering questions about the 4 R’s, we could provide our islands with water.
After dinner, we had our first intercultural night. Lithuania, Spain, Serbia, and Cyprus presented their country in different ways: they showed videos, prepared some quizzes, taught us some traditional dances, and brought some local food and drinks. In this way, we gained knowledge about each other’s nation through funny games and communication. In conclusion, it was a memorable experience.
Another thrilling day passed and we went to sleep like logs!
Day 3 Report
The third day of the exchange started with a simulation game on the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance dam. Participants were split into teams representing Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, United Nations, African Union, and environmental NGOs.
Together they learned about the issues related to the construction of the dam, which creates massive economic benefits, but also environmental, food security, and regional stability issues. The negotiations and debates were heated, but we kept a positive attitude and everyone improved their negotiation skills, cooperation, and understanding of this kind of issues.
An interesting part of our day was the presentation of cool environmental practices from national teams. We learned a lot about sorting initiatives, clearing forests, reusing things, protecting animals, and much more.
In the evening, we had an incredible cultural gathering, all participants were able to feel the cultural atmosphere of each country, taste local food, and enjoy dances and songs.
- Erola, a Catalan youth worker representing Spain, when asked how she feels about the exchange, said: “I am personally a bit sleepy, but I am overcome with positive emotions. This exchange exceeded my expectations!”
- Anna, a psychologist from a little town near Barcelona, also contributed that: “This game is really exciting. I enjoy it a lot.”
Day 4 Report
The 4th day of the project came to an end, and it’s time to sum it up!
On the previous day, we agreed to wake up earlier than usual to have breakfast. We ate, packed, and left our town, Pedoulas to visit the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia.
The road to Nicosia took nearly two hours. Someone was sleeping, and someone else was singing, but afterwards, we all got off the bus, and the tour began.
Our tour guide told us a lot about the history of Cyprus and showed us important monuments. One of the most beautiful aspects of the city is its mix of different cultures. For instance, the guide showed us a mosque which was probably built around the 10th century. At first it was a church but later it was modified by Venetians or French (experts can’t be sure so far).
- We learnt that the history of Cyprus is complex and got a chance to ask many questions. After the tour we had free time. During that time, everyone went to explore the part they were interested in. Many of us crossed the border to see the northern part. We were warned to take our passports. The crossing itself was very strange for us.
- We visited Büyük Han, a market nearby where we could buy some souvenirs for a memory. We also talked with locals that told us more about their identity.
- We left the city around 18:30. After we arrived at the hotel, we ate dinner. Because everyone was tired from walking under the sun during the day, we decided to postpone the night activity to rest.
Nicosia gave us very warm memories. We went to bed and felt thankful that we learned more about the complexity of the city and Cyprus in general.
Day 5 Report
Cultures, cultures, cultures
The 5th day of the project began similarly to the first day we had here. We woke up in the morning, had a wonderful breakfast, and gathered in the conference room at 9.30 in the morning.
- Our activities began with the mid-term evaluation, for which we re-checked our expectations, fears, and contributions, which we mentioned on the first day of our project. We put our post-its according to how well we felt they were achieved and had a little discussion and reflection about it.
- The second activity of the day had to do with explaining our cultural differences and habits that could get in the way of communication. For that, we split into national teams and prepared little plays for each other. Firstly, each country showed their own ‘strange’ habits and secondly, each country had to show the stereotypes which they have about another country. Of course, that was followed by a little reflection and clarification phase.
- The third activity started by sharing how each one of us understands the topic ‘culture’. For this, we used the online tool called “Mentimeter”. Afterward, we got to explore the culture that shaped who we are personally. For that, everyone drew his*her own luggage, which we filled with our individual cultural understandings. All of that was later shared in two rounds of groups of 5 people.
- After having a delicious lunch, we gathered again to learn what is audiovisual. The session included the history as well as the basics of that kind of media. Next, we split into groups of 7 people. Our task was to plan and then create our own (social media) reels relating to our experience on the youth exchange up until now.
- Later on, we discussed the follow-up activities, which have to be created by the national teams after the program. For those, we could choose one of three types of activities. The majority of the participants chose to produce a video and some decided to do a workshop in their home town.
Just like every day, we gathered in our national groups to have a group reflection about the whole day. We did this by choosing one song, which represents the day, our feelings as well as our mood today.
Thinking about the future, we are looking forward to a hopefully amazing dinner as well as an interesting and inspiring TedX evening, which will be presented by our own, great participants! Definitely the best participants on the whole planet!
Day 6 Report
We started the first session with an opening up game: being divided into books and readers our task was to either tell a story about us breaking down stereotypes, prejudices or being an active listener. Of course we changed our roles every round and our conversation partners. It was a very intimidating and bounding activity. Then, as always, we were enjoying the coffee break.
- During the second session we have been thinking (in national teams) about the preparation of the dissemination and follow up initiatives we will run after the end of the project – a lot of creative ideas arose as a result of the group brainstorming.
- After the lunch break, it was time to start the third session – a very engaging one. We had to make a video of what we have learned during the last week using our imagination. Each group can confirm that a loooooot of fun was involved… 😂😄
- We are going to present our masterpieces tomorrow. Can’t wait!
- The dinner was, of course – delicious, but we missed the fries with the unbelievable seasoning, therefore we asked the cook (politely) to make some for the LAST DAY (How come?! When?!).
We finished the day presenting information about our NGO organizations in a very unusual way: doing a fashion show out of it and afterwards enjoying the late evening singing songs that are popular in our countries and those known worldwide, so everyone could join.
To be tomorrow as present as today, we wish You all a deep sleep and colorful dreams!
Day 7 Report
The last day!
Today was the last day of the activities. After an energizer from the Italian team, we had an activity prepared by the Spanish and Serbian team.
So it turns out, until this last day, we had been collecting our recyclable trash such as plastic bottles, paper, and other carton materials (e.g., for milk) for this activity. We took these materials and were divided into groups to make some artworks.
- One group made a birdhouse, which symbolizes how we affect natural habitats in the world.
- Another team made art where the participants themselves were part of it, and they made it look like the Lady Liberty in New York.
- Lastly, before the coffee break, we also went live on YEU’s Instagram page to disseminate the project further.
After the coffee break, we were given a little more time to finish the videos we were working on the day before. Then, we sat down and had the opportunity to watch all of them before lunch. They were great!
After lunch, the Italian team spent time explaining more about other Erasmus+ opportunities, such as studying abroad for a semester, or what the YouthPass consists of, as well as the budget and general history of the ongoing program.
After the final reflection and evaluation, we had the opportunity to write goodbye messages to each other, and with that, the Youth Exchange finished.