This is a reference for Mihaela Amariei

National Agency Youth Exchange Staff Training

The training activity took place
in Vilnius, Lithuania
organised by Lithuanian National Agency
9 - 12 of March 2020

Aims & objectives

Aim of this training was to support Youth Exchange Officers to increase main quality aspects in all
phases of a project (development, preparation, implementation and follow-up).

The main objectives were:
- enhancing the quality in Youth exchange projects
increasing inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities
- attracting newcomer organisations to the programme reviewing developments of Erasmus+ Youth in Action in Youth exchange
- share experiences about current challenges and opportunities

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

We had 27 participants, all NA officers working with the Youth Exchange Programme in their respective National Agencies, (23 participating for the first time in a YE TC ), 18 countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, North Macedonia, Poland, Spain, Sweden). Their profile
was quite different in both personal involvement and level of experience.

We were suppose to have 40+ participants, but to the Covid outbreak, 13 of them had to cancel their participation. The European Commission representative joined online.

Training methods used & main activities

The approach of this TC was based on combination of inputs and practice to let participants put hands on real experiences – explore problem solving, share advises, deal with issues which really matters.

There are many quality criteria when it comes to Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges. Thus, this training course concentrated on certain aspects that most of applicants are struggling with: youth participation, equal partnership, dimension of non-formal learning, intercultural learning, YouthPass process, seeing the whole project as a long-term learning process and dealing with possible risks.

In all sessions we used a combination of methods to satisfy as many learning style as possible: visual elements (PPT and live video via Zoom), prepared answers to Q&A, live Q also, small groups working and sharing, individual and groups reflection.

Some non-formal methods used: Actionbound treasure hunt in the hotel; The name bazaar; First impression; Walk and talk; Card games for inspiration and reflection; Mentimeter for expectations, content delivery and feedback; Padlet for small group tasks and collect note reports; Role playing on Youth Exchange project implementation and monitoring field visit from NA; Reflection poster; Buzz groups; Experts online live speeches; Quiz; World Cafe.

Outcomes of the activity

Please see the link bellow for the call for trainers:

Outomes regarding the team work, prep and wrokflow:
· Planning process and good communication with the people from hosting NA, who were responding fast and transparently. Facilitators felt trusted by the prep team who were more engaged in the planning process.
· Concerning the emergency situation with many cancellations due to coronavirus, we feel that we managed to adapt efficiently in real-time (online logistical aspects, balancing methodology according to the level of energy of participants), even though we had to work extra late-night hours for that.
· Both trainers together and the NA representative, Justinas and the rest of the participants managed to keep the atmosphere relaxed and calm despite all the bad news coming towards most of us concerning how coronavirus affected both personal and professional life.
· There was a space for sharing expectations and for trainers to respond to these either during sessions or open agenda.
· The training structure and the choice of topics were discussed and decided on during the prep meeting - together with stakeholders.
· Using in all sessions as a base for methodology flow a similar structure: Short intro on content; Sharing good practices; Transfer of good practices from the former to the new programme; What to take back home? Are the results/conclusions of the group discussion valuable and applicable in my national context? Are there any good practice examples that I could adapt?
· We managed to address different learning styles, through the different methodology used.
· The methodology was quite diverse and balanced, adapted to the majority level of competence of the participants and to their energy level in different moments of the day: working in small groups, working in large groups, debriefing in plenary, external online inputs, Q&A, agree/disagree, structured discussions, open space conversations (less structured), role-playing, world café, walk and talk, pair and individual reflection.

Outcomes from the participants perspective were very good. In general they all felt the aim and objectives were met. Some extracts from the evaluation forms:
● Great opportunity to exchange with colleagues about challenges in our work and recurring topics and how we deal with them.
● Online input and further Q& A session with Stephanie Frangou from the European Commission.
● The getting to know each other game; the sharing of practices; the role play monitoring visit.
● We exchanged good practices and help me understand better the programme and its
● Room to express our wants and needs, open space is always appreciated.
● Discussions in small groups, exchanging practices, open agenda.
● Participation, positive energy.
● Comparing ideas with other colleagues. Knowing other NAs reality.
● Times when we could talk about a definite topic without too much facilitation and exchange ideas and practices.
● Facilitating the talks between abort relevant topics, new insights.
● The biggest challenge of this TC was that participants were with a very different experience. The realities of NAs are very different and it's a resource and obstacle in the same time.
● For me has been a great experience. Very useful for my work. Put me in the reality of the program with an overall point of view. It was interesting that my problems are other colleagues problems. Go back home with plenty of ideas. Thank you.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

The approach of this training course was based on combination of inputs and practice of various stakeholders (European Commision expert, NA and Salto experts and your own) by having in depth discussions about all project phases and common ground-building among implementing NAs, facilitate exchange and good practice sharing.

The main topics covered are: Youth Exchanges -past, present and future - good and less good practice examples you could all learn from; what defines quality in Youth Exchange; measures for improved monitoring and support of granted Youth Exchange projects; relevance, project design and implementation, dissemination and impact of results; networking, support tools and measures among NAs.

My role was to co-facilitate and co-train in this event, together with another trainer and in close cooperation with a Lithuanian NA representative. I actively participated in all phases, preparation meeting in Vilnius, several online prep meetings with the other trainer, delivery and co-delivery of sessions, co-drafting the event report.

Overall, considering that we had to change many aspects of the design prepared initially due to cancelations, that we had to manage a higher level of stress in general due to corona, that some participants were particularly concerned about their health and their future that lead sometimes to less engagement from them, the overall good vibe in the group, the overall positive verbal feedback offered in the final plenary session, we consider it was a successful training course.

I consider I played an important part in this event, bringing various contributions to the team effort: my extensive experience and expertise in the youth field and my international vast experience as a trainer and facilitator.

I worked on this training for 3 days as a full time trainer.

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