On November 7-15, 2016 Lithuanian team participated in „ERASMUS+” international youth exchange project „BE CYCLIST” N°2016-2-NL02-KA105-001410 in Orvelte, The Netherlands. Representatives of Lithuania were Vilija Gerasimovičienė – lecturer of didactics and physical education in Vilniaus Kolegija, Faculty of Pedagogy; Lithuanian sign language translation 2nd year students Kristina Kunelytė and Milda Kiškytė; Business Management Faculty international business 1st year student Edvinas Žulonas, Mantė Kontrimaitė, Paulius Kontrimas and Motiejus Grigaravičius – a team of Naujoji Akmenė city‘s youth association „Milžinų Lizdas“ („Giant’s nest”) members. „Milžinų Lizdas” is a non-profit organization, established by Justina Jancauskaite in Naujoji Akmenė (Lithuania) which focuses on youth issues, intercultural dialogues, educational development, youth involvement and encouragement for different activities, human rights.

This project involved partners from 4 countries – Romania, Spain, The Netherlands and Lithuania – who have spent a week together interacting with each other and trying to get to know each others culture.

The main aim of youth exchange project was to create innovative educational environment which could promote inter-cultural diversity awareness constantly reflecting each other for purposeful and versatile youth employment, problem solving and various opportunities assurance. Project created space for youngsters from 4 different countries for learning and sharing experience, discussing about healthy lifestyle and protective environment. All stories, videos and pictures were shared with audience on social media for promoting the project.

Participants of „BE CYCLIST” project had unique opportunity to live in really authentic, into country’s heritage included museum environment. It´s a Dutch province of Drenthe which is saved by the government and only less than 100 people live here. Orvelte is frequently visited by the tourists because of the mixture of old and beautiful buildings which were built in XVIII century or even earlier. One of the most unique things here are goats and sheeps and in the whole Europe, Orvelte is the only place where one of the oldest species of them lives.

After getting to know with a place and daily programme participants have organized inter-cultural, healthy, artistic, movie and dance nights, offered some free-time activities, did morning exercises, played various games.

The organizers: Dutch youth organisation „Digg‘Out“ (http://www.diggout.nl/en/index.htm) is a Dutch youth organisation which focuses on the cross-grained, young rebels who are experiencing difficulties in adjusting to today‘s society. The organisation‘s core strategy and greatest strength is the „For Us, By Us“ principle.

In a project „BE CYCLIST” organizers used informal education methods: ice-breaking and simulation games, energizers, learning by doing, the non-competitive environment creation, the group‘s process-oriented education, including get-to-know games, self-reflection and self-confidence, team-building and creative thinking activities.

During presentation and discussion time especially great attention was paid to environmental protection, recycling, healthy lifestyle and healthy nutrition. Participants were encouraged to work with international teams that have different culture and traditions. Despite the differences all participants tried to reach a common goal and implement their ideas. „Eco-friendly” task was given to 6 international groups: every group got one of the main materials (glass, plastic, paper, wood, metal or food) and had to recycle it to make a totally new product of it. As the project is named „BE CYCLIST”, all participants were divided into 4 groups and then the „creative workshop” started. All groups got 4 old broken bikes and had to make a non-standard decoration with a special story for it. All the bikes will be put at the CEO of the Digg’Out organization in The Netherlands.

To expand the world outlook of participants an educational trip was organized to Assen city which is known as a „bicycle province”. Later everybody had a 40 km bicycles trip to Westerbork Transit Camp which was founded during the World War II by Nazis. This camp was founded to imprison Jews and Gypsies distributing them and exiling them to other transit camps.

Youngsters were presented in details about „ERASMUS+” programme’s opportunities encouraging them to be more tolerable, to become active public figures, to broaden their knowledge about inter-cultural things. With a social media help participants created interactive presentations, showed some in a place taken videos, made some plans for future projects, worked in social committee and reflection groups where everybody shared their opinion about things they liked/disliked that day.

To sum up, all the program of “BE CYCLIST” project was really relevant and significant to everyone, the organizers did a great job, they showed their professionalism and high working competence with youngsters. The organizers left a really strong impression to representatives of Lithuania, youth association „Milžinų Lizdas“. Collaboration between organizers and organizations was a close inter-institutional cooperation which encouraged young people to reach their goals, to become more active and to make the best decisions for global problems in today’s world.

Vilija Gerasimovičienė,
a lecturer of didactics and physical education in Vilniaus Kolegija, Faculty of Pedagogy