One of the aims of European Social Impact Institute (ESI) is to establish an ecosystem built-up on joint efforts of like-minded people who connect through knowledge and authentic experiences. We do believe that transcultural exchanges by means of active participation and best practice sharing are a real empowerment and improvement, especially for young generation. In this direction, European Social Impact Institute (ESI) (http://esi-institute.eu/) was invited to become partner in an ambitious project on educating for human rights, designed by the Educational Organization SHARP MINDS (https://eosharpminds.com). A group of volunteers on behalf of our Institute took part at two training courses hosted under the Project 2021-1-EL02-KA151-YOU-000009708, in Athens Greece.

The first training course EDUCATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS held between March 24th – April 7th, 2022 gathered forty young workers, students, teachers and experts who co-created with youth on intercultural related topics. Our volunteers had the chance to meet their peers from other partner countries such as: Bulgaria (Youth Development Center – Mutual Aid – YDCMA), North Macedonia (Volonterski Centar Bitola), Croatia (Udruga Studio B), Italy (YOUth CONNECT), Slovakia (Society for Territorial Progress – STEP) and Turkey (Aktif Genclik ve Spor Kulubu Dernegi).

The second training course A HUG FOR ALL held between November, 17th – December, 1st 2022, brought together, besides youth volunteers of European Social Impact Institute (ESI), youth participants from Italy (MAEK APS), North Macedonia (Volonterski Centar Skopje – VCS Skopje), Turkey (Aktif Genclik ve Spor Kulubu Dernegi), Slovakia (Society for Territorial Progress – STEP), Czech Republic (European Youth Centre Břeclav – EYCB) and Bulgaria (Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians – UBM). All participants had the opportunity to learn new skills and outstanding methods on how to deal with new-comers such as migrants and refugees. Both trainings provided not only theoretical knowledge on social and legal issues, but also were provided with participatory mechanisms and approaches via workshops, simulations, drama, brainstorming methods, team-building activities and other methods of non-formal education.

Stories from ESI volunteers

My participation within the Project A HUG FOR ALL/Inclusion of the refugees in the European societies inside the frame of the Human Rights Athena 2022 was an extraordinary opportunity to meet people from different countries and environments and a chance to return home more informed and more tolerant. The main purpose of the program was to guide us to a more complex and deeper understanding of the fact that, there is a whole world that does not look like us, that does not speak the same language as ours, that does not think the same way as we do, leading us to cope with this reality by means of non-formal teaching methods, dual education based on projects, gamification, promotion of creativity and critical thinking. There is no age limit for learning, for exploring and self-enhancement, once you have the desire, the openness and the right attitude. Thanks to ESI and E.O Sharp Minds for such an opportunity”. (C.R.)

The Project A HUG FOR ALL was a multicultural experience that really sets apart. Besides the innovative information I gained throughout the project, I have made some friendships that will last long  from now on. The project challenged us all to overcome language barriers and understand one other, like one big  family. There were several rules within the project, but for me, the most important one seemed to be this one: “Lion by night, lion by day”. This translates in terms of the time dedicated to work must be directly proportional to the time allocated  to have fun.  Given that I made many friends within this training experience, I think that the name of the project A HUG FOR ALL is not just made out of words, but I felt a big hug from people to people. (G.N.L.).

For me, the training course EDUCATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS held in Athens was an amazing chance to meet my peers from other countries. Moreover it was a chance to discover and better understand the Hellenic culture in a multicultural environment. Last but not least, this was a change to understand that no matter the cultural background we have, in some cases people act and behave in similar ways in order to support “the different other” in the name of solidarity and humanity. (B.N.M.)

Taking part in the training course held in Athens brought me in front of my willingness to develop a new side of my personality, which has materialized itself into the desire to better know and interact with different cultures. The two weeks spent in Athens were a real challenge, which cultivated my ambition to gain as much information as possible about human rights and the situation of refugees coming to different host countries well-represented in the project.

 By means of this project, I met nice and friendly people willing to offer their help, willing to contribute to the change for the better society. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to take part in this training course and I encourage young people to participate and get involved into such projects. (A.D.)

For me, the experience I had in Greece showed me the human nature in its essence. I had the opportunity to meet many cultures and I realize how similar we are. I had the privilege to Athens, a place I have never dreamed to come so soon. I would definitely like to take part again in other Erasmus projects, because these are a unique experience. It was the first time I crossed the Romanian border, even if I did it by plane. But from now, I would like to do it again as soon as possible via these kind of project. (G.N.)

For me, this project represented a unique experience. I had the opportunity to meet people from other countries and to find out their traditions and their way of living. In the meanwhile, the time I spent during the activities organized under the framework of the project carried out in Athens helped me better understand the migrants and their needs. (R.D.)