Forming connections in a post-COVID Europe. Reflections of a Connector.

How does the idea of going camping in the rural Netherlands sound to you? For the lucky participants of the project “Connectivity”, held by the Olde Vechte Foundation in Ommen, Netherlands, this was the core element of their first international project after the re-opening of the European borders.

The project took part from the 27th of June until the 2nd of July and youth leaders from Portugal, France, Italy, Croatia, Bulgaria and Greece took the leap of faith and went “primitive” in a scout’s camping site. Unexpected weather, humidity, long walks and wet socks were some of the challenges, while connection, support, friendships and gathering around the fire were some of the ways to overcome the challenges.

In this project, the participants were not only the recipients of the experience but also the creators of it. Communal cooking and cleaning, gathering wood for the fire, shopping for covering the basic needs, organizing and facilitating workshops and activities were all performed with each other, for each other, by each other. Nature would become both a friend to support us in the exploration of our skills and strengths, but also our enemy that constantly made us adapt our plans and come up with innovative solutions as to how we could make our new home, the forest, a livable and comfortable place.

Going wild in unexpected places…

The COVID crisis has been not only a health crisis, but also a psychological and mental health one. Driven by our need for connection and purpose, we took this week off away from society to create a community were creativity, nature, education and joy were our main values and goals. Participants who had the chance to take part in the first Connectivity meeting in September 2020 aw this outdoor experience as an opportunity to explore their skills as change agents, while mixing with new participant who joined the project for the first time and were hungry for knowledge and willing to get out of their comfort zone as well.

In a world of Gods and monsters, I was an angel… or not?

A core principle of the Connectivity project is that we are not separate from society, we are society and we affect society as much as society affects us. Taking part in this project is not an opportunity for escapism but a chance to look at yourself, the others and the world from different lenses and after going wild, you are released back into the world with new skills and competencies.

 

Unemployment and creating a world of opportunities

Employability was often discussed in the frame of the project, as well as Kolb’s theory of experiential learning. The purpose of the Connectivity action is to boost employability, however by employability we are not limited in the false belief that after completing a couple of steps, you are ready to be employed. Employability here is seen from a broader scope. What kind of skills do young people need to cultivate to be better equipped not only to be employed, but also to change direction in career or studies, to quit something old, to start something new, to see what the world needs and how they can contribute to that, to take bigger leaps of faith and have an impact in the world?

Connectivity and the Greek team

The Greek team is reflecting on all the gained knowledge and implementing the tools, methods and good practices used during the training course. A workshop has been held for the current volunteers that Praxis Greece is hosting through the “Mediart” ESC project. Eleni, Georgia, Irene, Konstantina & Nikos present you their experience through a video and… there are many more things to come!!!!!

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