5 participants sent by the 4YOUth Foundation, took part in the youth exchange Next step! Exchange took place from 11-21 July 2021 in Rites, Latvia.
The Next Step! was about discovering the potential of one’s creativity and confidence by exploring, through body and mind, different approaches to learning and new perspectives on outdoor education. The aim of the project was to combine two important elements – nature and movement – to create a space where people can create, play, learn and inspire each other. Here are the opinions of people from Poland about the project who participated in project activities in Latvia:
Aleksandra (Team Leader): It was an amazing experience to spend these days in Rites, Latvia. The exchange helped me disconnect, focus on my feelings and learn what it means to be a part of a creative and diverse group. Through completing various activities such as mastering juggle skills or climbing a Jacob’s ladder I had the chance to understand that what really matters is the process: how you choose to proceed as a group and as an individual, not the final result. I’ve explored my limits, stepped out of the comfort zone by doing a bungee jump while being afraid of altitudes. I also appreciate moments which weren’t in the schedule: a spontaneous jam session around the fire or deciding to spend one night outdoors: it meant for me sleeping under the open sky for the first time. What will definitely stay in my mind after the project is a beautiful feeling of freedom, joy and strong sense of belonging to the community.
Julia: Undoubtedly it was an extraordinary experience. It was an out of sight opportunity to enter a microcosmos of mysterious Rites. We got a chance to create a coherent community. The whole atmosphere was just magical. Our time was filled with endless exploration. We were able to lead a slow, mindful life for 10 days. I couldn’t make a better use of my time. Every minute was so worth it.
Marta: The stay at Rites was a constant adventure and challenge for me. Through hiking, climbing and other physical activities, we learned persistence, mutual support and self-confidence. Everyday cultural evenings opened us to mutual diversity and gave us the opportunity to experience joy together. Halfway through the project, we were invited to organize the workshop program ourselves. The result was a varied schedule of activities, led by the participants themselves. Thanks to this experience, we had the opportunity to break our own barriers and share our potential and sensitivity with others. For 10 days, surrounded by nature, far from everyday worries, we have created a unique community, responsible for each other. We realized that we don’t have to achieve our dream goal right away. The most important thing is to take one step towards it. And then another. It was the Rites that became the beginning of such a journey for many of us.
Patrycja: The Next Step! Youth exchange was my first Erasmus+ experience. It was honestly the best experience of my life. The participants that now have become my close friends made me feel at home and the amazing facilitators, who I adore with all of my heart, made this adventure even more incredible. We got the chance to face our fears and weaknesses by going on crazy hikes in wild forests, crossing rivers or jumping from a 3 or 4 meter high wooden platform (fully secured of course). Throughout the whole project there could be felt a strong spirit of teamwork and cooperation, since the second part of the project was for the participants to organize the activities ourselves. I met lovely people, went out of my comfort zone and proved myself that I’m capable of more than I think, but most importantly I’ve never felt more inspired than I do after this project.