"ARTS FOR INCLUSION" Erasmus+ supported Youth Exchange

In Oroklini, Cyprus | April 30th - 6th May

Posted by Tomas Main on June 24, 2018

"Arts for Inclusion",
The most fun I’ve ever had

Hi! My name is Tomas, I’m a 17 year-old boy from Cyprus and I was one of the participants representing Cyprus at the Erasmus+ programme supported project “Arts for Inclusion”. One of the project activities was the youth exchange that took place from April 30th to May 6th, 2018 in Oroklini, Cyprus.

Tomas at the left with Tarik from Cyprus and Annija with Lita from Latvia. The activity in Cyprus was a 5-day youth exchange which took place in a small hotel, in the small town of Oroklini. There were young people from Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey, Bulgaria and Germany that took part. I arrived a day before the project began with the rest of the Cyprus team, as did the Lithuanian team. We explored the nearby hill and got to know each other a little better even before the rest of the group arrived.

On the first day of the youth exchange, we started off the activities with ice-breaking games, led by the core team of the project Miks Celmins (Director, Make Room Europe), Lara Mastrogiovanni (President, Work in Progress), Sachin Reddy (Make Room Europe) and the host organization "Argonaftes" coordinator Michalis. The “get to know each-other games” helped us to learn each others’ names as well as get to know each others’ character and personality.

Participants get to know each other - finding out truths and lies.

On the first day we also discussed the aims of the youth exchange, set the agenda for the week and came up with the “Conditional Philosophy” that we would all stick to during the week. We brainstormed about various locally relevant youth-oriented issues. After lunch, we talked more about these issues, and we grouped together the most frequently occurring ones - lack of self-esteem, lack of free-time opportunities, addiction to alcohol and other bad substances, anxiety among young people, use of technology and bullying were the 6 topics that came up the most.

Setting the Agenda of the week, creating self-learning journals and agreeing on common "philosophy".

On the second day, after the team-building exercises in the morning (which included a line game that seemed very tedious at first but that we all grew to love by the end of the week), we started to plan our artworks. We did this by first forming 6 groups in mixed nationalities. The topics that were decided the previous day were now distributed to the newly created groups. Then, we made a small presentation sketch explaining the identified issues, which we later presented and explained. That evening we had our first cultural night where Bulgaria, Turkey and Lithuania introduced their cultures and let us try some of their traditional foods and dances.

Young people from Bulgaria introducing their local culture and interesting customs.

On the third day we had an excursion, which was a lot of fun. First off, we went to the capital city - Nicosia, where many people bought souvenirs, ate ice-cream and just had a wonder around. The actual fun was after that when we went to the Larnaca beach and spent about 3 hours there. Even though the sea was slightly cold, we still swam, and we also walked down the beach, sunbathed, and played cards together.

Exploring the beautiful city of Nicosia - the Capital of Cyprus. Lara Mastrogiovanni at the right.

The fourth day was the day where we went crazy. To start the day we did some more fun team-building activities after which we learnt some new art techniques, which were thought to us by four art teachers, two from Latvia and two from Cyprus. After learning these we tried to use them in our main art-pieces which we started on the day. It was once those art-pieces were finished that the craziness begun, as a paint war started after Miks and Lara rubbed some acrylic paint on Sachin’s face, after which everyone joined in, leading to people’s face, bodies and for some even their clothes being painted. That day we also did an activity called “Walk the Talk” in which we all picked a piece of paper from a pot which had a subject on it. We then had to talk about this subject to a friend from another country while we walked through the village. This was one of my favourite activities as it led to me not only speaking about some very interesting subjects with my new friends, but also to understand the struggles that they could face in their countries. That evening we also had our second cultural night where Cyprus (us), Germany and Latvia presented their culture, food and music.

After the entertaining "Paint War".

On the fifth and final day after some team building exercises (and FINALLY, a collective success in the line game which we had failed to succeed on all the other days), we learnt about “Youthpass”. In a fun filled activity, we travelled through different stations of the “Youthpass islands” to realise that, over the week, we had acquired various competences. By doing this, we also learnt about the various competences which are part of the Youthpass. After this, we talked about what we would do in the evening for the final ceremony and the farewell party. We all separated into groups where we decided what we would take responsibility for. There were groups in-charge of making a short movie about the project, organising the farewell party, organising the final ceremony at the Town Hall and so on. My group was in-charge of organising the final ceremony, which we most certainly, did very well. That evening we had the closing ceremony at the local Town Hall building, presented by myself and a Lithuanian girl called Jogile, in which we received our Youthpasses, and learnt who our secret friends were (they were decided at the beginning of the week by picking a name out of a hat, and who had to make us feel special all week without giving away the fact they were our secret friends). Our artworks were displayed at the Town Hall as a beautiful exhibition which made us all proud of our work and the week we had spent together. The Ceremony was also attended by the Mayor of Oroklini and a few local residents.Then we returned to the hotel where we played party games and sat around the pool together very late, until some of the participants left.

We thanked our group leaders.

So, that was how the week went down and I’ve got to say it was possibly the best week of my life. I’d like to thank the project co-ordinator Miks, the support staff Sachin and Lara, the arts teachers and leaders of each country, and our leader the host of the project - Michalis, for the opportunity to have such a great week and make such great friends. Hopefully I’ll be able to go on another one soon!

To view all activity pictures click here!

To read more about the Erasmus+ programme supported project "Arts for Inclusion", click here!