Youth exchanges allow groups of young people between ages of 13 and 30 to meet, live together and work on shared projects for short periods. Youth exchanges last between 5 and 21 days, so it’s plenty of time to discover other cultures and make new friends.
Youth exchanges should be managed by open youth centres, youth organisations or other organisations who are taking care of informal groups of young people. Although sometimes we see that some organisations hire trained professionals to implement youth exchanges and this brings harm because:
- instead of being actively involved young people become passive users or even consumers of the project. These professionals take away learning opportunities of young people on how to manage the project what leads to developing such a great competence as time management, being able to deal with money, being able to make agreements with people from different cultures, being confident and experience group dynamics.
- usually these organisations are not focused on quality, but on quantity. In most cases topic of youth exchange is not important for them – they just want to accommodate and feed people as cheap as they can and charge them as much as they will pay. And to get rid of them on the last day to host a new group.
- the EU grant supports travel as well as practical and activity-related costs necessary for the exchange. So basically, it’s possible to participate in the project without money at all. The sad part is that instead of trying to involve young people with fever opportunities some organisations are charging young people with a fee for a programme which European Commission already paid for. And it’s already paid from our (taxpayers) money.
Yes, it takes time to prepare a quality application form and sometimes it could get rejected by assessors especially if it’s your first one. But we have a strong hope to keep youth exchanges real learning opportunities for young people – if young people keep trying to apply by themselves. In that case, it’s absolutely for free!
If you are a young person, don’t pay for youth exchanges and rather go to your local youth centre, ask for a help of youth worker and organise youth exchange by yourself. If you don’t know how to start – just drop us a message and if you are interested in other youth opportunities contact Eurodesk.
If you are a youth worker, remind young people that there are plenty of opportunities for them for free! Keep youth work real!
Written by “Keep it Real” team