“Ecological Footprint Reduction in Youth NGO Work” Erasmus training course Experience

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I am infinitely grateful because I have personally grown a lot. I have met wonderful people that I will always carry in my heart. I have been educated about sustainability and the environment, and about other cultures. I have improved my level of English. I have come to know new international perspectives and I have visited amazing places.

It was a process of learning and personal discovery that has given me a lot. Living in the company of nine more persons from different countries: Ukraine, Serbia, Georgia, North Macedonia, Cyprus, Turkey and Azerbaijan, made me realize the importance of respect, patience and understanding. The intercultural environment in which we developed coexistence and activities made us more tolerant and aware of the differences and similarities of all. We have lived everything with solidarity and learning a lot from each other. And we always had support, and what prevailed mostly was laughter, good vibes, communication and affection.

Without a doubt, it is the people who make this experience special and unique, who make that place, until nothing unknown, your home. People who become friends, coordinators who become referents, places that teach you a different perspective, organizations that show you the opportunities you have… they inspired me, supported me when I needed it, made me more aware of my worth, they showed me different ways of seeing life and we all shared something that we will always remember.

I have had the opportunity to participate in the “Ecological Footprint Reduction in Youth NGO Work” Erasmus training course in Struga,  North Macedonia, for 1 week (6-13 june 2022).

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Before making the trip for the training course, we had several online meetings, which helped us to get to know each other, to know what we were going to train in and to have some basic notions.

The process of booking the flights to the destination was complicated, because the airline changed and canceled some of my flights; however, I always had the support of the team of the organization ZDRUZENIE NA LESHNIKARI EKO LESHNIK S. DRASLAJCA, STRUGA. Of the different projects and training courses that I have done, this has been the one in which I have received the most support and attention from the hosting organization all throughout the project.

Regarding the training tasks, they were, in general, intense but entertaining, many of them in different parts of the city. In addition, we had time to know the city and spend time together. We had talks, group activities, exhibitions and visits to different places and institutions in the city that told us about the country’s environmental situation and we carried out many dynamic activities that allowed us to train, have fun and learn international and personal perspectives on different current issues. The visit that I liked the most was to an apiary, which was something that I had never seen up close and it helped me to learn a lot.

But what a project brings is much more than the work you do at the destination. The sunsets and intercultural nights with colleagues; the talks that bring you closer to different realities and opinions; discussions and teamwork; trips to different places; the different ways of life and traditions… I feel very lucky to have access to these opportunities. It was very intense and I would not hesitate to repeat the experience. Sometimes it is scary to leave the comfort zone, but it is necessary to grow and move forward.

So if someone reading this is hesitating to apply for or enter an Erasmus or volunteer project, stop thinking about it because you won’t regret it, highly recommended!

Marcelo Díaz Carrascal (23 years old, Spain)

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