We live in a digital age where information and communication are the core of successful and peaceful life. The improvement of these two is essential for development in the right direction of young people. I was always inspired to learn more in every field, so when I saw the call for this exchange, I was not mistaken that it is a great opportunity. Youth exchange “Social influencers” was held in Ioannina, Greece from 1st to 9th of July 2021.
The hotel where we stayed was on the periphery of the city with a view of the lake and local mountains, which I find perfect to focus on the topics we discussed. Participants were from North Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Croatia. So many different minds and ideas which connected together build a perfect team. The organization was very creative. The knowledge we gained was always presented via games, challenges and analysis.
The project was opened with games to remember everyone’s name. The first activity was ‘From A to Z’ for which we named some related words and effects of diversity and inclusion in alphabetic order. No frustration allowed is a game where people sit on different tables and each of them has its own rules. When we were changing tables, nobody told us the rules and every participant was trying to adapt to the environment. The way this game еxpresses the exclusion of some people in new groups was amazing. Everyone was trying to adapt but sometimes was hard because, for example, women did not speak to men. The lecture learned was empathy to marginalized groups. Another very interesting part were the theatrical plays to show situations of exclusion and discrimination. At the same time, I learned some theatrical skills. I think the most productive day was the one with the debate about three different scenarios of discrimination and exclusion in the workplace. We had to think of reasons to defense each one of the parties and the main conclusion was that there are no binary situations. Every person, as an influencer on another opinion, must think precisely before choosing the side of a story because there are always shades.
In the evenings, intercultural nights took the stage. To feel the national food and hear about different cultures was like traveling to each one of the countries. Learning new facts through quizzes was a great way of remembering information. Digital skills are the future in every field. These were covered with video-making activities about the effects of exclusion on the personal and company levels. We discovered new programs for editing and the advantages of good digital marketing. Photovoice is a term that will always remind me of this project, as a communication tool to speak up.
While presenting our organisations, motivation for new projects to improve our society was the culmination of the night. Inspired one by another, the next day we had a discussion with municipality representatives of Ioannina in order to understand and address different local problems and possible solutions. Our business logic was strengthened with step by step activity to imagine, share and discuss all the steps needed for the organization and planning of awareness activity and understand which are the possible additional factors to consider in the process.
I never felt so connected with a group, as I did on this exchange. We were dancing and singing every night and in the mornings yoga and exercises of the body were a great start of the day. It was so joyful walking by the lake, talking about topics that concern us as a youth and tasting local coffee and desserts. The project was wrapped up with applying our knowledge in the creation of awareness activity considering all the phases and details – ‘Social influencers in action’.
Summing up everything, I realized how productive was this experience for me. I met people who expanded my horizons, learned new skills and practiced to be a better human. Now it’s time to positively influence others.
– The summary was written by Tijana Atanasovska