“Youth Arts for Social Change” is an international mobility project supported by the Erasmus+ Programme, coordinated by the Dobeles Mākslas skola and administered by the Agency for International Programs for Youth of the Republic of Latvia. The project was a close collaboration among not for profit organizations and rural educational institutions – Dobele Makslas Skola (Latvia), I.I.S.S. “Enrico Medi” (Italy), Association Alba (Spain), NGO Argonaftes (Cyprus), Young Teachers Team of Cekdev (Turkey) and Liceul Teoretic Constantin Serban (Romania).
Each one of the project partners were represented by a group of 6 young people between the age of 13 to 18 and 2 group leaders. The project was planned across 7 different activities of which 2 were international mobility activities: Project Planning Visit that took place in Galatone, Italy in March 2018 and Youth Exchange that recently in June happened in Dobele, Latvia.
After a successful Project Planning Visit in Galatone, the young people had to identify locally relevant youth-oriented issues and create Info Materials elaborating on the causes and effects of the issues. Some of the most pressing issues the youth identified were:
1. Low self-esteem of youth in Dobele, Latvia;
2. Lack of free time opportunities in Galatone, Italy;
3. High alcohol consumption by youth of Nicosia, Cyprus;
4. Poor transport connectivity for youth in Tarrega, Spain;
5. Poor quality of education in Turkey;
6. Increasing School bullying among youth in Alesd, Romania.
From 10th to 16th of June 2018, the 6 groups met in Dobele, a small town in Southern Latvia, 72 km from Riga, the capital of Latvia. Dobele is the administrative centre of Dobele Municipality, a cosy town inhabited already in Stone Age, where today the visitors can admire the Dobele Castle ruins, the Dobele Liberation Monument, the Lutheran Church built more than 500 years ago and the recently built catholic All Saint Trinity Church. Besides, one can visit the Local History Museum, the historical centre of town, the Market Place with a variety of shops and cafes around it, the Forest Park Ķestermežs and the beautiful and largest lilac collection in Latvia, one of the largest in the world.
The timetable of the youth exchange was created by the young people themselves and was quite flexible changing based on the needs of the participating young people, but ensuring the youth exchange meets the proposed objectives. The programme was a variety of entertaining energizer games, meditation sessions, workshops led by young people, visits to nearby places of importance, interactive group work and loads of brainstorming sessions on youth-oriented issues.
One of the most memorable activity of the Youth Exchange was a visit to a Caramel Factory in Jelgava where all participants got an opportunity to make their own candies. This was a first time experience to most of the participants and some of the young people even considered to start a Candy Business to generate employment opportunities for local youth.
Another fun activity was the "Problem Cafe", where young people explored their own identified youth-oriented issues in 6 different problem cafes while ordering exciting drinks and snacks like "Olaf", "Bachlava of Mother Theresa", "Dracula's Scream"...
“Problem Cafe was the best idea, it made talk to everyone about issues of Dobele youth and we all were very interested to learn about each others' issues”, says Monta, the leader of the Dobele youth.
"I liked the cultural night the most, I got to know about other cultures - what they eat, their traditional dances. I had so much fun and learned so much about Europe and our neighbours", says Hazel from Cyprus.
"The most, I enjoyed all the art activities, it was great to paint and draw together, we all had such different visions of how and what to draw based on our problems, but we managed to somehow agree", says Antonio from Italy.
The most fun activity was to paint the Dobele Town Hall Square. The design of the drawing was made by one of our young people - Monta.
"I am very proud of our work - of giving this small town a permanent signature of our extremely fun week in Dobele.", says Kuday from Cyprus.
The eventful week of the exchange culminated in a beautiful and touching closing ceremony in the presence of the Mayor - Andrejs Spridzāns and Vice Mayor - Guntis Safranovičs of Dobele Municipality. The young people received their Youthpasses. The beautiful and inspiring artworks that the young people created over the week were exhibited at the Municipality building and will remain there for the weeks to come.
"It is not easy to motivate and inspire youth to be involved in local community issues and create solutions, but when we do find the way, they surprise you by doing everything the best they can and the results are breathtaking", says Alina Ioana Buzle (Romanian Group Leader).
To read more about the project, please visit Erasmus+ Projects' Page
Watch the Full Video of the Inspiring Week in Dobele, Latvia
We thank the local Dobele people for warm hosting of the project participants. Also, we thank for the hospitality of all local entepreneurs who supported us throughout the week - Restaurant "Rasa", Hotel "Dobele", Cafe "Sporta Cebntrs", Cafe at the Dobeles Valsts Ģimnāzija, Cafe "Bistro", Ilona Zaķe and many others.
The article is written by the Visibily Team of the project coordinated by Alina Ioana Buzle.