On the 16th of May 2019, three of us went to Bansko, Bulgaria to participate in a project about sexual education. We were lucky to be chosen by Association Strive! to represent Croatia. Project “More competent, more confident” was organized by Znanie Association in a small, beautiful place at the foot of the Pirin mountains. The target group for the project was youth workers and the goal of the project was to establish and improve the skills of youth workers to work with teenagers on topics linked with sexual education.
This was a first Erasmus+ project for all the three of us, so we actually didn’t know what to expect. We were scared a little bit – will everything be ok, will we arrive there safely and what is waiting for us in Bansko. Even for some of us, it was the first time flying! We had no idea that this project will be the greatest adventure and a unique experience we will share together and remember forever. And definitely, something that gave us the motivation to consider applying for new projects even before this one ended!
The project was organized perfectly. All the activities were very useful and fun as well. We used non-formal learning methods and a lot of energizers in between. First days of the training course we had teambuilding activities to meet each other and connect. The trainers were very communicative and prepared. Even though we spend a lot of time in the training room, it was never boring and the trainers managed to keep our attention ‘till the end of the working time. In our free time, we could use the pool, have a walk in the beautiful town or just enjoy the view of the mountains from our balcony. We hung out together every night and we shared our cultures, played games and, generally, had a lot of fun. We felt very comfortable and happy all the time and definitely “clicked” as a group!
All the participant of the project were very open and friendly. There was no small groups and people who didn’t want to make new friendships – everyone was very enthusiastic and communicative. There was no arguing or disrespect during the project – when there were misunderstandings, we talked openly about it. Even though the topic was sometimes sensitive, we felt confident and safe to speak about everything and express our opinion. The participants were supporting each other and we really became a group of friends. Also, there were a lot of talented people so we had an opportunity to enjoy art, shows, and singing. We used to joke that in this project everyone was a good singer which makes us we feel like we are in High school musical and not Erasmus+ project! ? It was really an amazing experience for us to meet so many different people from different countries, but all the same in one aspect – motivation for the topic of the project. They really inspired us to develop and educate ourselves more in the field of sexual education. We learned a lot of new things and useful information about STD, sexual consent, sexual orientation, gender and about the influence of culture, family, and religion on sexual education, etc., but also a lot of non-formal methods of learning, games, energizers, and ideas.
“This was my first project and it was an amazing experience. I really did not expect it would be so inspiring. I was scared in the beginning because it was also the first opportunity for me to use my English language skills, but very soon I felt very confident and safe. The workshops were useful, interesting and very different from everything I participated before. Every day there was always a good atmosphere in the training room. I felt motivated and genuinely happy. It was like a whole new world for me. Even though I traveled around Europe this was a unique experience. I met people who became my Erasmus + family and I miss them already. I am grateful that I had this opportunity to learn so much about this important topic and methods of learning. I also learned a lot about teamwork, how to be more open and creative and a lot of good skills. I think I became a person who is very passionate about projects like this one and I hope there will be a lot of them I would participate. But, in the end, I will never forget my first project not just because it was first but because it was AMAZING! TC “More competent, more confident” and Bulgaria will stay with me in a wonderful memory.”
“If I could describe this experience with only one word, it would definitely be – a surprise. A positive, beautiful and life-changing surprise because it definitely brought a lot to me and changed me as a person as well. The first big surprise was when I got an e-mail from Association Strive! that one of the Croatian participants gave up and that I’m accepted instead! It was a roller coaster of emotions because I was so motivated when applying, had an adrenaline rush for applying late (as usual), then sad and disappointed because I wasn’t chosen for participation, and then the shock when I saw I have the opportunity to participate. What a joy! So, from that e-mail, this became the first Erasmus+ project I would take part in. I was also happy to share the journey and experiences with my dear two colleagues, also future psychologists so it was funny from the beginning that the three of us will go through all of that together. And this journey definitely brought us closer! The second surprise was the project and everything about it – how well me and my Croatian buddies functioned as a (travel and project) team, all the beautiful and smart people on the project, our very well-prepared trainers who motivated us all along, the place between the mountains and the nice hotel we were in and generally, the project itself. It brought me so many new friends, new ideas, new experiences and new non-formal methods (which I fell in love with) to use. We really were a cohesive group, shared so much and I really feel I learned a lot from every each of them. Also, the days and the activities were very well designed – there was a lot of group work, but in different groups, which made us more connected (and very sad the last day when we had to say goodbye). This project was special for me and I don’t remember when I laughed so hard and learned so much from experience at the same time – and definitely gave me so much motivation to continue going on Erasmus+ projects. Needless to say that myself and my Croatian team already started to plan future ones! Thank you, Association Strive! for all the surprises.”
“TC More competent, more confident” was my first experience of Erasmus+ projects. I knew that Erasmus+ projects are something interesting and funny because I heard some things from my college friends, but I didn’t know what exactly to expect. But it gave me everything that I didn’t really expect. When I saw a mail that Association Strive! chose me to be one of three Croatian members in this project, I was very happy and honored. It was also my first time in Bulgaria, and when I saw Bansko, I was really astonished by the natural beauties of the town – all the beautiful mountains and nature. On the project, we had a lot of activities to do and lot of time to spend in the hotel conference room, because it was a training course, but it was all interesting, funny and useful. We played a lot of games to meet each other and learn all the names, which I really liked. We learned some new, useful non-formal methods to educate youngsters about sex and topics related to sex, which is very important in our country, where sexual education is still a taboo. We also shared some cultural differences about the topic, and about a lot of other topics. It was so interesting for me to get to know a lot of things about different countries, and to meet so many nice and motivated young people, who don’t waste time in their lives – they are working, volunteering, participating in a lot of projects. Trainers were very well prepared and it wasn’t difficult to participate in every activity because they wanted to involve us all. It was easy to speak about this sensitive topic because everyone was really open and understanding. Every evening, after activities, we had time to use the hotel facilities like the pool and sauna and to hang out with our, I can say, new friends, because it was only 18 participants which made it very easy to become close with them. This memory will always stay in my mind because it was one of the best traveling experiences for me, I learned some new things related to the topic of the project and lot of non-formal learning methods end energizers, and also made some new friendships and stronger connection with my old friends Valentina and Tea – because this memory will always connect the three of us.”
Participants: Tea Žagar, Valentina Ageljić & Katarina Jakubec