Past week, Grigoriy Grigoryev, had an opportunity to participate in the first organized Study Visit to Barcelona to discover their youth centers. The visit comprised of Spanish, Ukranian, and German participants largely from the informal educational sector. Here is how Grigoriy describes his visit:

The study visit was constructed over three days, with an itinerary that was filled with some nine study visits across almost all of Barcelona. The participants were carefully chosen to share experiences and connect for future projects.

On Monday, March 12th, we visited Casal de Barri Folch i Torres (Casal is cultural center in Catalan), in the neighborhood of Raval. Here we found out about the network of FIDES and its operator PROGESS, which operate some 80 projects related to vulnerability and employ hundreds of employees across all the centers in Catalonia. It was important for us to realize the problems that youth and individuals face in the neighborhood of Raval and examine different ways that the local CASAL and other associations try to address it. Following Raval, we traveled across the city to neighborhood near the stadium ‘Camp Nou’ to see and discuss more on differences and similarities across all of our types of work and what cultural & youth centers have to offer. A great example was information points for the youth. There, the youth are able to not only get help with homework but individual psychological counseling for them and their family; or assistance with further mobility across the EU. Most memorable moment came when visiting a youth center across the stadium that is designated space that is only for youth. This only youth center is used for various activities from organizing hip hop dance and skateboarding to chillin’ and playing PlayStation with friends.

On Tuesday, March 13th, we visited Casal de Sant Just. Sant Just is a separate city that is just outside Barcelona and funded by the local city council. The city mayor office continues to not only work closely but believe in the center and find it important for youth and adults in the neighborhood. Here we also had an opportunity to discuss possible opportunities to work among each other and realize how much our work has in common and how we can benefit further from future interactions. In the afternoon, we went back to Barcelona, to Casal Palau Alos and spent sometime discussing touristification, gendrification, community gardens and how neighborhoods change/stay the same.

On final day, Wednesday March 14th, we started with an in-class experience at a local public school. One of the participant and his fellow colleagues (other youth social workers) were doing exercises with students on digital world and possible consequences. Some of the themes included digital bullying and sexting. It was great to see the participant in action and understand how the cooperation between FIDES and neighborhood schools assists the mentors of the street. In the class they were able to discuss prevalent and important topics that we often leave in the informal learning. In the afternoon after learning some more about Barcelona demographics and diversity of culture we visited the highlight of my visit. This was the ‘les tres Xemeneies,’ which is a public space that people from all over the city come to. It is about a size of a full city block that used to be a power station and now a combination of a skate park, performance hall, and etc. There, we got to see and some even participated in a graffiti workshop while others learned to long board or watched cricket.

This trip has given fruit to many possible partnerships for future collaborative projects and ideas for our local efforts in Erfurt. It was great to share about the STZ – the Community Center am Herrenberg – a project run by Plattform e.V. and I am looking forward to further assist local and international initiatives there and around Thuringia.

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