TICTAC in Bucharest: The Magic of Creating International Projects

Dates of the event: 15-21 May 2017

Place: Bucharest, Romania

In my process of becoming an international trainer and project coordinator, few friends with a longer experience in Erasmus + recommended me to apply for the TICTAC training course.

TICTAC is a training course targeted at voluntary and professional youth workers and youth leaders interested in using international cooperation to enhance their local development strategies in line with the goals of their organizations. This is the specific training for experienced participants of Erasmus + which happens 2 times per year on different locations and it’s organized by National Agency of the hosting country.

Checking out the dates and planning the project calendar, I have noticed the call for TICTAC in Bucharest from 15th until 21st of May 2017 on the Salto Youth portal and decided to apply.

After motivational agony, BUCHAREST here we come!

Answering motivational questions in application forms is time-consuming, annoying and it can take hours until you finally find the right words to express your motivation to participate in the project. Also, you have to remember to cover your answers with the relevant volunteer or work experience. Relieve and thrill comes when you finally press the submit button.

On the 29th of March, I have received the results of the selection process from Romanian National Agency. I was in! That was the first time Association Strive! had a representative in the Transnational Cooperation Activities organized by the network of National Agencies. A few weeks later I  signed the contract with AMPEU and started to prepare for the mobility.

 

The joy of working within Erasmus+

May 2017 was pretty hectic in Strive! We had 3 ongoing exchanges in Latvia, Bulgaria, and Romania in the second part of the month. TICTAC training course started on 15th of May, while next important training I was also participating in started on 25th of May near Plovdiv. Instead of one week, I had to pack my suitcase for 3 weeks and be creative with the travel plan. Final combination was Zagreb- Budapest – Bucharest – Budapest- Vienna- Budapest- Sofia- Plovdiv-Bresnik- Hissar- Sofia- Budapest- Zagreb, within the budget. 4 countries, 6 cities and 2 training courses in 3 weeks…challenge accepted! 🙂

 

Arriving at the training course

I have arrived in Bucharest early in the morning on 15th of May and begin my solo adventure by wandering around the Railway station with coffee to go and mobile phone trying to reach an open wifi. It was crucial to consult Google maps to locate the Hotel Yesterday where the TC took place.

When I arrived at the hotel, I met talkative, energetic and bold guy greeting me at the reception. I received the room keys and entered into the single 4 stars hotel room just for me (which I didn’t have to pay from my own pocket).  Oh, joy and happiness!

Meeting the legends of non-formal education

After the delicious dinner, we were instructed to meet in the conference room with other participants. Instead of expected introduction games, we have entered in the Magic world. There were 3 middle aged guys in the room dressed like wizards, spreading the magical charm and explaining the tasks we have to do, and one of them I have recognized as the nice bold guy from the reception. That was Jo Claeys from Belgium one of the trainers of the TICTAC. The second wizard was Denis Morel the trainer from France, and the third one Speja from Croatia, the youth worker on the job shadowing and president of scout organization Posejdon from Split.

During this funny activity, we were getting to know each other, learning words in 15 different languages, signing agreements and administration stuff, playing games, taking pictures with witch props and enjoying the unusual international moment. The fascinated was the energy, playfulness, and ability to animate the group which professional trainers showed during the whole week. Later I have found out that Jo and Denis have more than 25 years of experience within Erasmus + projects and that they work together as trainers and partners more than 17 years. It’s not surprising they are the best trainers in non-formal education I have ever worked with.

 

When you think you know something and find out that you don’t

That happened to me on the second day of the project. After participating in 12 Erasmus + projects until the TICTAC, I thought I get the whole point of Erasmus + program. I was wrong.

To understand Erasmus programme, it’s important to understand the core European values, a bit of EU history, actual European Commision policies and the idea of the European citizenship. To understand the rules is the first step towards playing the game. But then maybe the most important thing I realized is that behind all those games and interesting activities we are playing during youth projects, are things far more important than just games. Erasmus project can be a really powerful tool for making the social impact and to change the problems in society if you use it wisely and invest the grant responsibly.

The sad thing I have also realized is how many organizations are working in the “gray zone” and how many people exploit the programme for personal benefit. Nobody likes cheaters in the game.

What I have learned during the training is how to use a holistic approach to write project proposals and how to build the long-term strategy of an organization through Erasmus +  and create a significant social impact on the local and international level.

 

Specific moments of the training

The training was intense and challenging, but not boring at any moment. The workshop I would remember the most is the Stock Market on quality in International and European projects where we were winning and losing “titis” or TICTAC money for suggesting ideas, solutions or even gambling.

Also, the organization fair on the 4th day of the project was a really productive activity where I had already started to discuss potential project cooperation with organizations from Greece, Romania, Check Republic and Slovakia.

Probably the most enjoyable part of the TC was walking around Bucharest Old Town, listening to stories about the famous Romanian character Dracula and historical facts about Vlad Tepes. Trying tasty Romanian food and vine in the rustical restaurant with cheerful international companions while witnessing traditional dance performance and songs I’ll remember for a long time.

 

Why participate in the TICTAC?

Quality of non-formal education which is provided by experienced trainers is inspiring and it will lead you to understand the whole concept of the project writing. Contacts you will make during this project will be the great starting point for your organization in strategic international collaboration and project writing phase. If you are a lover of Erasmus+ and see your future carrier in NGO sector, put this training course on your to-do list.

 

Author: Mateja Gabor

The available article in Croatian

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