Community Goes Europe 2: Kick-Off Meeting in Weimar, Germany

Community Goes Europe 2 had its Kick-Off Meeting in Weimar from the 1st to the 6th of September. The project, promoted by CGE, gathers volunteers from Germany, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine and Belarus and works under the motto of “building solidarity across the nations”. The project was aimed at both the sending and the receiving organizations, the project managers, the mentors/tutors and the volunteers. From Portugal the involved organizations were MEDesTU and Associação Rota Jovem, from Spain Asosiación “Euroaccion” and Cazalla Intercultural, from Belarus Office for Initiatives Promotion and NGO “Fialta”, from Ukraine NGO “Stella” and Center for Euroinitiatives and from Russia Regional Youth Public Organization “Opora” and Academy of Innovation.

Most of the activities took in the place in the European Youth Education and Meeting Centre in Weimar (EJBW), where every participant was also hosted.

As the first day (1st of September) was dedicated solely for the arrival of the participants, the true beginning of the project was on the 2nd of September. After breakfast the official opening of Community Goes Europa 2 was held, with a presentation of the project, its predecessors and its main long-term goals. Afterwards, the team got together outside for some team building exercises that allowed the group to work together and to get to know each other.

After lunch the group separated: the project managers got together in the venue to reflect on Community Goes Europe (the project that CGE held the year before) and the volunteers and mentors enjoyed a city tour through Weimar. The day ended with the presentation of the European Youth Week (EYW) 2019 results and dinner at EJBW.

The second official day started with a reflection on volunteering for solidarity: what are the steps that we need to take? The participants were also introduced to the Open Badge system to further the experience of both the volunteers and the project managers during the project. After the first coffee break of the day, the group got together to discuss conflict resolution and non-violent communication.

During the afternoon all the participants went to an activity park to experience with arborism and other kinds of nature sports. The idea behind it: showing true team spirit!

The reflection on solidarity continued through the third day, as the first morning session was all about the meaning of solidarity. The participants were challenged to find their own personal meaning and to then discuss it with others, in order to find a common definition that would eventually fit with the whole group. From there, everyone was then asked to think about action: what can we do about it? How can we act on it?

Allied with that, the idea of a community was also a topic of discussion. How to get integrated? How to integrate? How can volunteers adapt themselves to a new reality and feel part of it? The answer lies in both their hands and the organizations’ hands, as they will now work together to build and strengthen bridges among the community that will receive them.

The group split up again for the afternoon, with the volunteers and mentors heading to Erfurt for a study visit (and a kayaking session) and the project managers staying in Weimar to discuss administrative and financial issues.

As the last day started, the volunteers had the chance to think about their future projects and what they’d like to work on during their year abroad. They were given skills on how to support and grow an idea and how to put it into practice. It was also a good opportunity for the project managers and mentors to listen to them and reflect on how to help them.

The afternoon session was dedicated to the mentors, with a session on coaching as a mentoring tool. The evening was filled with the final evaluation, signing of activity agreements and a farewell party that included grilled goods, some beers and lots of dancing.

During the four days of the project, the entire group was able to gain new skills regarding mentoring, coaching, brainstorming and development of ideas and projects, as well as some team building and team-work skills as well. The volunteers went back home to prepare for their year abroad and the project managers and mentors went back into preparing their arrival.

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