In the mid-November, I took part in a training in the scope of No ESCape from Reflection project. One of the reasons was to learn and gain new perception on ESC projects, learning processes and reflection, as well as take time for introspection and sharing experiences with other youth workers. And the training has exceeded my expectations, or better to say it surprised me that it brought a different view on what were my initial expectations.
To start with, the group itself was inspiring, there were ex- and current volunteers, coordinators of volunteers and organizations, mentors, all with different experiences. This diversity built a natural space for exchange between roles in projects. We had time to step into each other’s shoes and change our perspectives. Some participants who were new in youth work got surprised about how many layers projects are made of, and how many people are involved in the realization. Others, also got inspired about how much one can learn through non-formal education, but also surprised about how challenging it can be to identify the learning.
The process is often different and individual, as most people do not catch the same parts of the knowledge that is shared, due to our previous experiences, knowledge and interest. The trainers, full of experience, had developed useful content for the youth workers and were calm and energetic at the same time, which brought a good energy each day of the training. They taught us to take time, breathe and share our experiences as they are as valuable as facts and guidelines from various handbooks. On top of this, this way of facilitation was very educational for all of us who find ourselves in those shoes occasionally.
The sessions were organized to increase our understanding, support our learning and to give us space to question our work. The questioning came as a response to the exchange that was happening, and it brought the feeling of being ready to tackle new challenges, as we learned that we have a support system and a network.
Through the flow of the training, we summarized the roles of all parties involved in the ESC projects, as well as going further and discussing impacts of reflection in different processes and through different roles.
A valuable part of the training was also the daily reflection sessions, which reminded us to slow down and take time to think. The whole project was designed to emphasize the importance of reflection in the project perspective as well as for growth and development of the youth workers. Reflection strategies were also further developed by the youth workers, who worked in smaller groups in order to contribute to the process of developing concrete outputs – a reflection tool for youngsters that will be taking part in ESC projects in the future. The impact of it was researching and rethinking the strategies for reflection, and how to keep youngsters invested in it.
It seems like everyone left the training with a spark in their bodies, some in their feet waiting to finish all of their tasks, some in their hands, waiting to write and report on what was learned, and some with a spark in their chests, ready to take time, reflect and share.
A big thank you to all the persons involved in the realization of this training!