In February 2017, our partner organization Youth of European Nationalities, hosted their 2017 kick-off event, “Training Architects”, a training for trainiers in Trieste, Italy. The seminar is a part of a project with the theme of “Building Bridges” between youngsters across Europe, and was aimed at preparing new young trainers from different cultures and backgrounds. Phiren Amenca volunteers Livia Lainati and Dennis Brink participated in the training, and Livia shares their reflections:
Upon our arrival, we had lunch with the other participants and then had an introduction to the training and a presentation of YEN. Since we didn’t know each other yet, the first day of the training was geared towards us getting to know one another. During the first day of the training, we were engaged in a lot of ice breaker activities and name games. During the breaks we began to share our information, our stories and our motivations for why we were there. The activities which we did during the training were very strong tools which allowed us to become closer and build a strong community amongst the participants.
As we began to know each other better, we started the most important part of the training: learning how to be a trainer. In order to learn about this we engaged in a variety of activities for learning different aspects of being a trainer. One such activity was the EGGsercize game which was used to teach team building. During this game we were divided into three different groups and were given the task of creating an object which would catch an egg that was hanging from the ceiling; without it breaking. We had to make these objects by using only a few materials; these materials included, paper, a box, some plastic bottles and some pieces of small rope.. The activity was very fun, we all discovered new ways of being creative. Being creative is a critical skill for trainers; because without having creativity, it becomes very challenging to solve problems during which may arise during training’s and workshops.
All our activities were spaced out by helpful coffee breaks, full of sweets and caffeine, which helped us to keep the high levels of concentration and motivation. At the end of each day we broke up into reflection groups. In the individual groups we were able to talk about how we felt about each day’s activities. In conferences, reflection time is critical to the overall success of participant growth. It is a time which is set aside for us to work through and unpack our emotions and feelings on a day’s worth of activity. It ensures that we are able to handle each day and not become too tired to continue on to the next day.
During the week we continued to engage in a lot of interesting activities, about the peculiarity of being a trainers, the skills, the knowledge and the attitudes a trainer should have, and about the learning process. All of this new information was followed by different activities, which allowed us to better understand each individual concept. It was my second experience with the use of Non-Formal Education method, and I found it really interesting.
In particular, for the learning to learn activity, we divided into different groups and we tried different types of learning process: reading/writing, kinesthetic, visual, and learning by doing. I never realized there were so many different ways to learn. I always learned using my own method and didn’t try using any of the other learning methods. In the future, I will try to keep in mind the many different methods, because I think they could be useful for me in the future. Although my learning method continues to be the reading/writing method, I will continue to remember that everyone has their own method of learning.
Another important activity was the Albatross simulation. During this activity we were engaged in a practice from another culture. The simulation hit each participant pretty hard; its intention was to show how our misinterpretation of one another’s cultures can result in challenges and obstacles. In addition, it required us all to reflect and become aware of our individual prejudices, and how we need to continue to challenge prejudices as a whole. I experienced a lot of strong emotions during this activity, and am still unpacking the ideas and themes of it. This activity led us to reflect about the topic of discrimination and the prejudices. A very long discussion occurred, after this activity, a discussion which allowed me to reflect upon the different ways and which discrimination and prejudice exist. It is up to us to continue to challenge these ideas, although these may lead to very uncomfortable conversations. This is because we cannot create change unless we push ourselves to change first. Change and the challenging of discrimination and prejudices requires us to acknowledge their existence and continue to challenge them everyday.
We had so many activities that it would be too long to talk about them all! I will just talk about the last one, the final project. We once again were divided into three groups, and we had to create our own workshop for the other participants. The workshop had to be 30 minutes long and were very challenging to create. Although my group had difficulties, our workshop ended up serving its purpose. The other participants were engaged in our workshop and learned from it.
Overall, I left Trieste with feelings of joy, a new wealth of knowledge, and new appreciation for the other participants. Armed with a variety of acquired new tools and skills, I hope that I can continue to challenge stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination. We owe it to humanity and to each other to continue to make a better world for all. As such, I will continue to do my part, in teaching and challenging others to see things in this world with open minds. Although this work is never ending, this conference has shown me that I am not alone in this struggle. My hope for the future continue to relies on the growth of individuals continuing to challenge stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudices.