Saturday, 13 February 2016

Visit of the European Parliament as a goodbye

The last day of our EuroPeers training in Belgium was not boring at all. The Belgian National Agency Jint organised a visit of the European Parliament for us.

It was great to see one of the most important institutions of the EU. We also attended a presentation about the functioning of the EU and had a chance to ask various questions concerning the EU. Our presenter was very friendly, well- informed and interesting to listen to. The combination of the theory with practical examples helped us to understand the system of the EU and certain issues.

After the visit, we went to the Jint office where we had a tasty coffee/ tea and biscuits! Why did we go there? Well, that was our farewell place. It was a time to say goodbye.
We evaluated and reflected what we learn throught the whole week, what we wish would be done differently and what was perfect.

Saying goodbye is always difficult BUT at the same time it is a great opportunity to go out there, to the real life, and try out what our trainers taught us.
I wish all of us all the best in our following activities. Hopefully, see you soon J


Friday, 12 February 2016

Hameed' s experience

Hi, I am Hameed and this is a story about my EuroPeer journey.

What encouraged me to become a EuroPeer?

I have attended a few training courses and youth exchanges in different countries and now I had to feel isolated in the UK because there was no space to share ideas, experience and network with local participants who had attended Erasmus Plus events. 

My first Erasmus+ experience

I met a ex colleague who worked in youth work in a meeting and he informed me about Erasmus plus. I was still confused what the project involved. Then after 2 weeks he sent me information about a training course in Budapest. They were looking for last minute UK participant and he would be grateful if I can attend. I finally agreed and had no idea about where Hungary is, how I am going to get to Budapest. I ended up going to Budapest and had a great time, made new friends and learned new things. 


Of course I had doubts before leaving to my first project. Will it be safe, why is it free, will I be liked by other people and finally travel arrangements how will I organised everything?!

What next?

I would like to attend more training courses, help as youth leader and take young people with me on youth exchanges, volunteer with local NGO in UK and last but not least help as volunteer with Erasmus plus youth exchanges and training courses! 


Opportunities beyond Erasmus+

Our EuroPeers training course is slowly coming to the end. There is only one day left and it will be very exciting day! I am not gonna tell you what will happen. You will have to wait for another blog post :)

Thursday was all about reflecting Wednesday’ s activities and evaluating them with others. All three groups presented their outcomes. One group explained to us basic steps how to organise our own event/ presentation/ workshop. Second group told us the outcome of their organised event: what they planned, what they managed to organise and how they dealt with unexpected problems. Third group presented their videos and pictures using free apps. Everything looked very professional even though they had very limited time to work on them- only one hour and a half.

Later on, we had a chance to get information about youth programmes existing out of Erasmus+. People were sharing their knowledge and personal experience from international projects. There are so many opportunities for everybody whatever their age, race, gender. Have you ever heard of The European youth foundation of the Council of Europe, WWOOF or AIESEC? If not, check them out, they offer perfect youth opportunities.

We finished our day by farewell party. We were singing karaoke and doing some challenges. It is unbelievable how this week flew by. We have only one day left, but I am sure it will be as exciting as other days! 


Workshop about Digital Storytelling

I was a part of a group attending workshop about digital storytelling on Wednesday. It was about free online apps which help to make any content look more attractive, cool and trendy.

It was an amazing workshop! We found out a lot of apps which might help everybody who wants to create professionally looking pictures and videos in a very short period of time.

Our workshop mentor created boards with all information on Pinterest. Are you interested what apps are available for you? Find them here!

In the second part of the day, we moved to the practical part in which we were trying to create infographics by using the recommended apps. Anna and I were using two apps: easilly, which is very easy app for creating infographics. You don’t have to design anything, there are templates of different designs and you just write the text into existing box. So cool and easy!

Thinglink was the second app we used. It facilitates creating an interactive image. I never though that putting a video or a picture inside another picture would be so easy!

You do not have to be a professional designer to create interesting things anymore!


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Don Bosco Centre

The venue for our EuroPeers training course and our home for the week has been the Don Bosco Youth Centre, situated close to Brussels in a place called Dilbeek

We've been lucky enough to have the whole place to ourselves so we've had plenty of space for our activities! The place is ran in a self sufficient way so we are responsible for laying the tables for mealtimes and clearing up for ourselves afterwards. 

Downstairs there is a basement complete with a bar (which we are also responsible for managing ourselves) and a football table!

Unfortunately the rain has been constant so we haven't ventured outside much to see the local area, however I've enjoyed the views of the trees outside the windows and the cosy atmosphere.

The rooms are warm and very cosy.

Tomorrow we leave the Don Bosco Centre and will stay in a different hostel in Brussels for one night after an exciting visit to the European Parliament!

Workshops day!

On Wednesday of the training course we split into three working groups that would be focusing on different topics throughout the day. These were - workshop and presentation tools, action in Dilbeek and digital ambassadorThe action in Dilbeek group was working especially hard all day as they would be planning and then presenting a EuroPeer event at a local youth centre in Dilbeek on the same evening!  

As a member of the workshop and presentation tools group I gained loads of information about different techniques I could use when planning and delivering a presentation or workshop. We even started to structure some concrete plans for events that we could organise once we returned to our home countries! It was really helpful to have each other's support on this task, sharing ideas and providing each other with encouragement and feedback.

Action in Dilbeek 

The action in Dilbeek group planned a session to present information about Erasmus+ at the local youth club. They came up with some really innovative methods including the idea of creating a 'living library' made up of some of our EuroPeer participants.

Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of attendance at the event, but we all got to see what a Belgium youth club is like whilst enjoying a nice evening of table football, interesting conversations and a few Belgian beers!


Phoebe' s experience

Hi, I am Phoebe and this is a story about my EuroPeer journey.

What encouraged me to become a EuroPeer?

After I graduated in 2013 I was looking for new experiences that would help me to continue to learn and discover whilst also developing my CV. My first European experience was when I moved abroad to teach English in Spain for five months at an informal language camp. This wasn't as part of an Erasmus+ programme but it was my first step into working and living in a new country with a different culture.

Totally inspired after this life changing time I went on to try out living and working in lots of different countries. I found a six month EVS placement in France working as part of a European NGO which led me to find out about a whole new world of Erasmus+ and find many new opportunities including taking part in European training courses and a youth forum at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg. 


It can be very daunting moving abroad for the first time. My main doubts were being far away from home, my friends and my family. What if I didn't like it? What if I wanted to go home? It's not so easy to just go home for the weekend when you're living that far away! 

I also had some doubts about how leaving my country to go abroad would be helpful to me in my future career. Would it be more sensible to stay home and try to find an office job? However, I overcame my doubts and chose to take the adventure!

I'm so happy I made that choice as so many unexpected and wonderful things has come from it, you really never know what is around the corner when you take a chance like participating in an Erasmus+ programme and one thing always seems to lead to another!

What next?

I'm now living back in the UK but continue to be involved with Erasmus+ by volunteering as part of EuroPeers UK. 

Taking part in this EuroPeers training course in Brussels has been a step forward in getting to know more about the wider network and increasing my involvement in the project. I will be helping to promote Erasmus+ projects in the UK by sharing my experiences with my peers and inspiring them to take advantage of the great opportunities that exist.

Hopefully I'll also find some time to fit in some more travel as it's such a great way to stay inspired and learn new and exciting things! 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Quiz night wohoo!

Tuesday finished with Quiz organised by Flamish EuroPeers. 

Everybody wanted to win but only one team did (as always, haha). But we had a chance to taste great Belgian beer, spirits, candies, biscuits and cheese. 

Mmmmmm as I am writing about it, I want even more. But it is not that we did not get enough, not at all. It is because I am maybe just a little bit greedy, ops.

What were the questions? The questions were only about Belgium. We did some dancing and singing competition as well!

It was a lot of fun! 

What was the prize? More Belgian beer, more chocolate and biscuits! Mmmmm

Congratulation goes to the winners! J

What is for me in Erasmus+ ?

We started Tuesday by defining what EuroPeers are about. We found out that EuroPeers is about learning, sharing experience with others and developing good practice for projects and initiatives.

All participants had an opportunity to learn about skills they have and skills they would like to learn and develop over the next few days!

Participants have an opportunity to learn about Erasmus +  in the second half of the day. Kartin and Yannick, Jint National Staff, have given us an overview of Jint National Agency and explained to us all necessary information about Erasmus+. We also got information materials.

The last but not the least, we also received our Learning Diaries for reflecting what we learnt during the day. Hopefully it will be full at the end of the week! 


Monday, Monday, Monday a.k.a What did we do?

Well, the programme began with getting to know each other a bit, breaking the ice through taking several attempts to learn each other's names in a variety of very amusing games. 

We moved onto some team building exercises to challenge ourselves, test our team work and create initial bonds within our diverse group of EuroPeers. It was then time to start thinking about what EuroPeers is all about and why we had come together for this training session. We looked at our main objectives for the week, went through the schedule and put forward our expectations.

We discussed our expectations in small groups and then put forward the ones which we considered particularly important. These were to gain knowledge about different networks and contacts that we could use in order to disseminate the information that we would learn this week amongst our peers. 

Also we wanted to know how best to stay in touch with the network once this week was over in order to maintain our work and support each other in being successful EuroPeers once we returned to our home countries.


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Why are we here?

We arrived successfully (!) yesterday and got familiar with people and programme for the whole week straight away.

What is gonna happen during our international EuroPeers training?

Of course we will have a chance to get to know each other better, make new friends from different countries, get to know different opinions, ways of thinking, etc. BUT we will have all something in common.  The reason WHY we are all here in Brussels. What is the reason? Well, it is because we are EUROPEERS! Are you a EuroPeer as well? If you are not sure, find out below!