This is a reference for Erik Ghazaryan

Youth work and European Citizenship

The training activity took place
in Ommen, The Netherlands
organised by JUB
June 26-July 4, 2015

Aims & objectives

This Training Course aimed to raise understanding of the concepts of ‘Europe’ and ‘citizenship’ and to develop tools for youth workers on these themes. All young people understand we are living in Europe, yet ‘Europe’ remains an abstract notion. The European Union and the Council of Europe aim to strengthen European citizenship, but what does that mean? Do youth workers have a responsibility here? This training course for youth workers started from the beginning, with asking ourselves what could be understood by ‘Europe’, followed by exploring the idea of citizenship. A core part of the training was to develop and test tools to promote active citizenship so they could be implemented in the local realities of the youth workers.

The aim was to raise understanding of the concepts of ‘Europe’ and ‘citizenship’ and to develop tools for youth workers on these themes.

The objectives:
• To analyse the different meanings of Europe (where, what, who)
• To gain knowledge on key concepts of citizenship: societal, cultural, political and economic factors.
• To discover the right attitudes towards the project of European unity (future of Europe)
• To develop and test new tools on European citizenship
• To promote active European citizenship, a common European identity and non-formal education.

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

We made use of non-formal education: based on voluntary participation and creative learning techniques, such as brainstorms, presentations, simulations, energizers and group work. We focused on innovative tools. We made a small booklet with the innovative methods we used. From 12 different countries (Armenia, Poland, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, United Kingdom, Turkey, Ukraine, Netherlands) we brought in total 24 participants together, guided by 4 trainers and 2 logistical managers. Now, in the end, the participants are ready to implement workshops in their local realities on citizenship, in relation to Europe, with a good background knowledge. A booklet with the innovative practices was spread among the partners.

Training methods used & main activities

We had daily reflection groups, in which the participants could share their thoughts about the day with their peers. Each day the learning pairs were presented with a set of questions, a combination of general reflective questions about learning and questions specific to the material and subject matter of the day.

At the middle of week we did a mid-term evaluation and in the end a final evaluation. We used creative methods, based on active participation of participants. Moreover, after each workshop we had a debriefing that allowed participants to share their thoughts. Beside the sessions, integration with participants during informal times were also other opportunities for us to check whether or not we were reaching the aims and objectives of the training.

In the end, we used several methods of evaluation such as: sharing verbally in plenary session, narrative evaluation, emotional sharing/learning, image with nature that symbolized the training course for each participant.

The written evaluation had open questions, based on the objectives of the training. Regarding the more practical things, such as their opinion on the hotel etc, we had multiple choice questions, which allowed us to visualize different aspects and the statistics.

Outcomes of the activity

The participants received knowledge on the concepts of ‘Europe’ and ‘citizenship’ and they developed and tested new tools, dealing with those subjects. The participants acquired numerous competences in the development process of the new tools, such as: developing creativity, working in a group, taking responsibility, expressing yourself in English, etc.

The participants expressed that for this activity the key competences were mostly related to knowledge – which was dictated largely by the nature of the training course. Knowledge was gained on the concept of the European organisations and how they can act as a means of bringing people together across cultural boundaries.

Linked to this was the concept of ‘European’. Probably this subject had the biggest single influence on the group and although the vague and flexible nature of the concept turned out to be challenging, discussing the topic produced a lot of new knowledge and changed the attitudes of some participants. Many came to understand that the European Union is not the whole of Europe but a part of it, many (from non-EU countries) felt themselves as European for the first time and saw Europe as something bigger than economics or geography. The history and different versions of the history of Europe were also a strong knowledge point. European values and identity – the search for, the understanding of, the confusion of, the desire for, and so on… were all aspects of knowledge and attitudes that related to the concept of ‘Europe’.

Another link between the first two areas was that of ‘citizenship’. Many participants expressed gaining knowledge on the concept of citizenship and active citizenship and being a European citizen – both EU and in a broader sense.

Participation and inclusion were also subjects that participants highlighted as an important part of gaining knowledge.

The more practical side, the gaining of skills included; new non-formal education methods that could be utilised into participants own work and realities. The skill of not just learning about a tool but being the creator of a tool was also highly valued by most of the participants. This was connected to two other areas for some of the participants, for some it was the process of co-working, how this pushed and pulled and challenged individuals to think and reflect more deeply. The other aspect was the development of skills in communication, either for communicating with their partner or for communicating about their tool to the rest of the group, the act of standing in front of others and presenting or running a new tool.

Knowledge was also gained on Erasmus+.

All the above gains in knowledge, skills and attitude were all expected. They link with the aim and objectives and the planned programme.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I shared the responsibility with the project trainers team. The implementation of several sessions as well as the support to trainers during the preparation of the new working tool was among my responsibilities.

I worked on this training for 7 days as a full time trainer.

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