Imagine a winter wonderland in the heart of Slovakia, with snowflakes gently falling all around you. This was the perfect setting for the Pathways to Inclusion Youth Exchange, where 55 young adventurers from Romania, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Czechia, and Lithuania embarked on a unique journey. From December 9th to 16th, they delved deep into a world of excitement and discovery, exploring the true meaning of tolerance through thrilling activities and challenges. It was a week filled with adventure, laughter, and unforgettable memories!

THE KEY TO PROGRESS

Their mission was to comprehend and address the enduring issue of exclusion, which still casts a shadow on today’s ideals of unity and equality. The participants’ desire to dismantle barriers brought them together, establishing a stimulating and collaborative educational environment and, through engaging activities, they explored concepts such as geographical obstacles, marginalization, lack of opportunities or societal labels, discussing ways to combat these modern issues.

UNITED TROUGH DIVERSITY

Despite grappling with one of the world’s most pressing issues, every day was filled with genuine laughter, personal growth, shared victories, and newfound friendships. Games and icebreakers laid the foundation and promoted the creation of genuine connections. Beyond empowering individual identity, the activity celebrated the mosaic of cultural richness present. During the evening program, each country passionately shared the beauty of their home, presenting information about their intriguing history, musical tunes, mouth-watering dishes, or inviting everyone to join in on national dances.

WALKING UP THE PATHWAY TO INCLUSION

The adventure kicked off with introductory activities and team-building exercises. Learning everyone’s name and getting accustomed to their personality was a challenge, but after conquering it, strangers transformed into friends, and the group became a team. After two days of relationship-building games, attention shifted to the main topic: paving a way for mutual understanding and collaboration. Various learning methods, including video-making, debates, and acting, were used to explore the topic.

Here are some examples of activities:

Stereotypes

Activity Teams, divided by nationality, created plays challenging and debunking common stereotypes about their countries, promoting understanding and self-irony. The activity aimed to break down misapprehensions, explaining their origins and fostering an enjoyable atmosphere among participants. Examples included the Czechs portraying fashion trough socks and sandals, Lithuanians showing that the potatoes are the best thing you can eat, and Romania making fun of the vampire myths.

Inclusive Country

Participants, divided into international teams, imagined the ideal inclusive country, limited only by their imagination. They presented their creations to the group through means of their choosing such as videos, digital presentations, and flipcharts, delivering impressive results with flags, maps, and names for their pretend countries.

AND THE TOWN IS QUIET AGAIN..

Just like the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and the Pathways to Inclusion was no exception. As the activity neared completion, participants planned dissemination activities and proposed future project ideas. Their unwavering passion and commitment resounded profoundly, recognized with well-deserved Youthpass certificates indicating their growth and hard work.

As everyone started packing their bags, the once laughter-filled atmosphere echoed with silent goodbyes, a bittersweet melody sung by both joy and pain. Reflecting on personal growth during the stay was inevitable, as was the satisfaction of realizing how far they had come.

THE TREASURE AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW

Words can’t fully capture the impact of this experience! It wasn’t about transcending borders, but about uniting hearts. The knowledge gained will forever serve as a compass, guiding the young’s moral values toward acceptance and inspiring them to strive for a future world of mutual understanding. Information wasn’t the only treasure found at the end of their journey; it was accompanied by something even more valuable: friendships. The Pathways to Inclusion will always have a special place in everyone’s heart, as they have influenced the course of their lives.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.