EUropeNET - a contact making seminar that involved 27 project coordinators and youth workers from 27 organizations. From the 1st to 6th December 2019, 13 countries were present in Polanica-Zdrój, Poland.
But let’s start from the beginning. A contact making seminar? What are the purposes and goals of such? And why don’t we hear so much about them?
We were there and hope to describe it to you as best as possible. Just keep reading it.
EUropeNET started on the 1st of December and with it arrived the snow to the south-west of Poland.
After some crazy hours (In some cases, days) of traveling, the participants were welcomed to Polanica-Zdrój, a small “fairy tale” like town, famous for its spas and villas.
And here we are, rambling! So, back to the point.
Just like the title denounces, a contact seminar is an activity that allows you to start contact with other entities and build new partnerships for future projects.
The best of all of this lays in the sharing of experiences. In EUropeNET you had people working with European projects for more than 20 years and people who have just started.
The right amount of experience and freshness. What could be better than that?!
For one week, project coordinators and youth workers presented their NGOs, shared ideas on how to innovate Erasmus plus or how the programme has innovated their work and its impact in their local communities. They discussed the importance of digital tools in the success of projects and how they influence that more people have access to those projects while, at the same time, sharing ideas and platforms to improve the NGO sector.
The richness of EUropeNET was in the conversations – the ones during the activities, but also and mostly, the ones near the coffee table. The eagerness’s of who is a beginner met the stories and cases of those who have traveled a long road in this, already.
But how does one deal with people of 27 different organizations? How to give them the same time? How to guarantee that all of them have „the spotlight”?
Well, one can not. Not 100%. This because it doesn’t depend only on you. Actually, most of the time it doesn’t depend on you. But that is alright. In 4 days – the duration of EUropeNET – activities, coffee breaks, meal times or evenings in local cafes (and the walks to and from there) in Polanica-Zdrój offered interesting conversations, opened new perspectives, lighted the spark for new ideas, new projects and new partnerships.
From so diverse countries and cultures as the ones of Poland, Macedonia, Portugal, Azerbaijan, Spain, Moldova, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Hungary and Cyprus – and so different scope of working, as culture and reading, to youth activities and volunteering, passing through municipality support, children’s centres or even elderly associations, all of this was present and had influence in the seminar.
When the backgrounds are so different and the scope of work so diverse, it is not easy to find a common answer that fits everyone’s needs. Thus, the fruitfulness of the meetings.
For being so hard to apply the same rule – or answer – to a small organization which works with culture as to a municipality partner, or a Children’s centre that survives from donations, it uncovers some of the fragilities NGOs still face and brings us all together to offer new perspectives to each other. Or like that it should be.
But it was not only of discussion and sharing of experiences that the contact making seminar was made of. The participants had the chance to share and to learn from each other new methodologies to work in the NGO sector, as well as to build a new project, in teams, during the 3rd day of activities.
These encounters of people who were very experienced in KA1 projects with ones who have more experience in managing KA3 projects – as for example, with participants who were learning about VET for the first time – led to interesting matches and, at the end of the day, after the process of planning, discussing, preparing an application and finding suitable partners, we ended up being presented with ideas on Youth exchanges, a training course and a KA3 youth dialogues’ project idea.
And guess what?! Already some of those ideas are on the way!
In a time when everyone „plays safe”, working with the same people over and over again, unaware of the new and fresh coming from different places, EUropeNET built a bridge for a near future.
The contact making seminar was not an answer for the questions of the organisations. It never proposed itself to be. It was, in spite, the starting point for something. For more. For new. For stronger. The intentional kick off for a challenge: „You have the opportunity, you are here, what you are going to do with it?”
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Project Title: EUropeNET
Project Number: 2019-1-PL01-KA105-064143
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