Participants Sharing Their Experiences During the Practice Sessions: Part IV

Before workshop we felt a little bit stressed and worried because we didn’t know exactly how it will be to lead a workshop. We had those thoughts running through our minds like “it might be difficult”, “it might be boring for us” and others.

During the workshop everybody was so involved in the process. The activities were very interesting and everybody just became more and more happier. Afterwards some of us were a little tired and in the same time very finally satisfied. Oh, that feeling of freedom and playfulness! We had created something new and exciting.

As it goes for feedback, we were shy to receive it. And all of us were worried to give a useful and constructive feedback so it wouldn’t offend others. Nevertheless it was very useful for learning, understanding and improving.

As we realised we were actually very positive and even wanted more hard core practice. We were happy to see ourselves from different prospectives. And after all we felt INSPIRED!

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Participants Sharing Their Experiences During the Practice Sessions: Part III

Stress isn’t sometimes bad, because it takes us from the comfort zone to the stretching zone. That moment helps us to be more creative and also see our blind spots.

As we found out being nervous and tense isn’t good for the learning process. Before and during the workshops some groups had a very nice team work and at the same time there were some small problems. Those problematic moments led to new experiences and learning moments. After the workshops we felt this amazing feeling of accomplishment. Accomplishment that the task was done!

Some workshops were more serious and concentrated really on the learning while others were more funny, relaxing and used gaming approach. During our practice we realised that hard work and intensive study can bring lots of creativity and original ideas. Also during and after the workshop phase we got better knowledge of the problems introduced in the workshops and now have new perspectives and different points of view to presented problems.

After the workshops we got great feedback from our fellow group members and that was not a problem at all. Nevertheless giving the feedback was much more sensitive and careful process in order not to harm other person.

Our A-ha moments were related to the use of  new approaches in workshops; in particular running the workshops like debates or interviews. Also it was was interesting to work in an intercultural environment!

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Participants Sharing Their Experiences During the Practice Sessions: Part II

Our Feedback of leading the Training sessions:

How did you feel leading a Training Session?

  • Before: nervous, stressed, interested, curiously in results, focused.
  • During: panicked, confused, secured, too much relaxed, trying to control emotions.
  • After: relieved, relaxed, united with the team, sad because of separation with the team.

How did you feel taking a part in sessions and giving feedback later?

We felt included, critical, comparing to ourselves, interested in what will be next; attentive and wishing to replace somebody of trainers; active. Focused on the group performance and every member. Nervous when session run not perfect. We felt involved in the process.

We saw ourselves positive and helpful while giving feedback.

Learning moments and insights

  • It takes a lot of effort to prepare the session and to perform well. You have to be very spontaneous to overcome some unpredicted processes.
  • You need to be flexible, improvise and add things on the way. It is important to feel your team members and understand them without words.
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Last day – Blog from Julia and Jochem

Goedemorgen! (hey, hey orange)

After a wild night in the hotel party room, the turn-out at breakfast was lower than ever before. The demand for aspirin was very high and the supply of drinking water excruciatingly low. Luckily, we started off the morning session with a subtle seat-swapping energizer. Then, the Erasmus+ program and some useful resources and tools for trainers were explained. While some people were struggling to remain conscious during this session, others turned up fashionably late. For the final evaluation we went through a cycle of theatrical re-enactment of the week, meditation, stepping forward sessions, plasticine creativity, sharing of learning goals and reflecting on our expectations of the project. In one year we all hope to have implemented some of our gained competences, either as a trainer or in other aspects of our lives. The training course officially ended with the personal exchange of youth passes and a group photo on the stairs outside.

After lunch and for some a final shopping visit to the bazaar, it was time to head to our favourite German village Helenendorf/Göygöl to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our host Bridge to the Future. We had received a thorough briefing on the appropriate dress code and for some this was easier to adhere to than for others. Upon arrival at the lovely venue, we were asked to make our grand entrance in couples in order not to clog the entrance. We were given the opportunity to show off our outfits in front of the many cameras on a dead-ended red carpet.

When everyone had found their seats, we were welcomed by the host with a speech that was nicely translated into English for us. During the traditional Azerbaijani dinner we were entertained by singing, dancing, music and more speeches by Seymur, the Chairman of Bridge to the Future, and his colleagues. Also, we enjoyed the local wine and made it our goal to toast to every year of Bridge to the Future’s existence. Between the courses, some of the girls grabbed the opportunity to have their photo taken with the beautiful hillsides or in some cases an upstairs bedroom as their scenery. When most of the food and wine was finished, we were friendly but firmly requested to make our way to the underground club. Here we were blown away by the music and dancing young men. Since we were very much aware that this was our last night together, we made sure to enjoy each other’s company. However, some of us also saw it as the perfect chance to interact with some of the local volunteers.

Towards midnight, the festivities came to a close with the lightening of sky lanterns. Despite the windy conditions, most of the lanterns found their way to the Azerbaijani skies, which made for beautiful scenery. After Huseynkhan and Seba had collected all of us in one bus and chased off some Azerbaijani stowaways, we could make our way back to the hotel. There, it was sadly time to say our first goodbyes since some of us had an early departure. The diehard fans decided to watch the Eurovision Song Contest in the party room, but did not stay awake to see the results.

After another short night, the final breakfast was a true KATASTROFA. Tears were shed, hugs were given and promises to see each other again prevailed. All in all, it was an unforgettable experience of a great training with an awesome group of people!

#givetake #tornado #bungabunga #allergy #katastrofa #comeon #bodyguards #perfavore #goedemorgen #reflection #heyorange #blessyou #A-HA #really?!

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Participants Sharing Their Experiences During the Practice Sessions: Part I

If we had to describe our feelings in one word, it would be satisfied. We experienced amazing team work, challenging practice and valuable feedback. Before our session we were all a bit nervous; for some of us it was the first time ever to lead a session. However we felt confident because of our team’s support and good preparations.

During our session we felt great, we were free and focused. All of us were really happy with the results and felt as thought a huge weight was lifted off. Besides that the feedback we received was very helpful. We are happy to have had a chance to improve and develop ourselves.

We learned many new things and gained ideas by seeing the presentations of other groups. Especially the sessions on stereotypes confronted us with our own prejudices. We loved that we learned by doing and also got a chance to improvise.

Our A-HA moments:

  • The process is fun!
  • Preparation takes a lot of time
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Day 4: Blog Entry from Yulia

The day of listening. Actually, we are always listening to something, even if it is the voice inside us or beating of our heart. However, because of different reasons and background noises we are not always able to recognise what we are listening to and just to hear.

Our day started with some theory about debriefing stages based on Experiential learning cycle. For this we used Kolb’s model to see how experience evolves before it becomes direct action. In particular, it passes through such stages as description, analyzing, generalization and application. However, what was even more interesting – it is the role of the trainer during every step. The participants of the training were split into four groups and thought about the question that can be addressed to the audience during every of mentioned stages. One of the longest and smartest questions was: “And..?” that, to say seriously, is significant, as far as often people do something do not thinking about the aim or some outcomes.

As for me, I really enjoyed the next activity, which was practicing the open questions in groups of three people. It helped us not only to find out something more about each other and express the creativity not repeating the questions, but also feel that setting an open question happens to be really difficult task.

Having the small plays in groups in order to describe the work of the teacher, coacher, trainer and facilitator, we have understood the difference between possible roles of supporting person based on level of power and answering/asking the questions to the person who is learning. Then we turned to active listening – sharing some significant memories to other person, who should practice all the features of good listener.

And (getting to this point I am already impressed how many activities we could perform during such short period of time, but be sure – it was during only three sessions hour and a half every one) every person then had a very nice experience – one minute speech on any topic in front of half of the group. Despite practicing the presentation and public speaking, we learned how to listen carefully to what person is talking about and give him/her feedback (two advantages, one thing to improve). Moreover, it was interesting to observe how the person percept a feedback, including his/her mimics, gesticulation and other types of non-verbal communication, as far as only 2% of information we get from the content of the speech, while other 98% come from voice and movements.

To sum up, we understood an amazing thing – you can say too much during the minute. But sometimes it is even more amazing how much you can hear listening actively.

P.S. Netherlands, thank you for very delicious and informative coffee break, and I hope that Ukrainian one was not less interesting.

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Day 3: Blog entry from Aynur

Today was our third training day but I had a feeling that I have known these people already for a long time. Program was kicked off with presentation about Ganja Youth Capital 2016. After we had a Latvian coffee break with sweats and black (rye) bread from Latvia and talks about their traditions.

Later we discussed youth potential and ways how to explore it and empower youth in our communities. We did several energizers and activities which where very useful for my and groups learning process. For example from the first activity (Human Knot) I learned that when you face problems you shouldn’t give up. Just take a deep breath, be patient and find a method that can help solve the problem. Moreover an insight was that working in a team is very important and because of teamwork we have more chance to share our knowledge and experiences with others and also learn from them.

We also explored our own potential of learning during an activity where in one minute we had to teach our partner something and in next learn something from them. As a result we realized how much we could learn in a very short period of time and what drives us to learn more and experience learning process in an interesting and exciting way.

In the evening we had Romanian coffee break with new tastes from Romania and some cultural sharing.

At the end of the day we went for a walk with our Learning Couples and shared our insights and A-Ha Moments of the day. After that we had a daily reflection where we shared our feelings of the day, our suggestions for trainers and program.

All in all today’s training day helped me to learn somethings new and improve my skills 🙂

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Day 2: Blog entry from Danish participants

Waking up in Ganja, early morning, with a lack of sleep from the late night arrival, was tough. Maybe there was a sense of demotivation from the beginning? The group was strange, interesting in its composition. Participants and trainers from a wide range of European countries – how would we ever be able to work together?

We started off with a range of name-playing games and team building exercises. We had to create a Facebook page for each person, using strangely cooperative means to get to know each other’s most inner dreams and accomplishments. What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done? How many countries have you visited? What kind of TV shows do you like? People became less of a mass, more of a group, slowly.

Doing difficult exercises helped us through a ‘tornado’ of emotions – we weren’t a good group, we couldn’t cooperate. Some yelled loud, were stubborn, some just leaned back and were annoyed. And the only thing we had to do was moving pens and throwing them in the air! It sounds so simple.. But it wasn’t. When we finally accomplished the task, we yelled in joy, it was so fun! People were suddenly human beings, with personalities, instead of just strangers.

We discussed what our aim for participation was – what we want to do with the capacities we hope to build here, and what capacities we actually did expect to build. Adjusted our expectations, and the trainers subsequently adjusted the programme accordingly. They made it clear that we are not here to be judged or graded, but to build something collectively and individually, and use this to reflect on ourselves and the future we hope to change with each our projects.

We also discussed what a successful trainer is – most groups seemed to agree. Keep your head cool. Have humour. Be inspirational. Be fair and just, and many many other things. We were introduced to the holistic approach, and drew ourselves, with the duality of the competences we already possess, and the skills we wish to develop in our future: as trainers, as teachers, as coaches.

We also had an *amazing* Danish coffee break, with liquorice pipes (not so popular) and butter cookies (more popular), and Johanne and Mia hit it off with a song and dance around an imaginary christmas tree, as the Danish tradition prescribes.

But most of all, just being in Ganja, Azerbaijan, was the biggest experience. For Johanne, this became an intercultural blast. So many impressions of Azerbaijan, of the different peoples, cultures and conflicts represented within the group. She felt she was met by a stunning open mindedness and eagerness to debate and share our thoughts. A lack of judgement from others, just openness. Many of the countries represented are not famous for the traditional Dane, so it is an honour to be here in beautiful Azerbaijan, surrounded with people from across Europe.

We ended the day with a cosy walk through the cool Ganja evening. We were taken to beautiful squares, and a pretty and green park, where we shared tea, coffee and shisha. We talked much. Then, off to a dodgy basement/cave, with funny lights, intriguing (but good and interesting) music, good spirits, dancing and beer. It got late for some. We had great fun!

For a day one of a seminar, Mia believed the group had developed fairly well – we had really gotten to know each other, and there seemed to be no negative sentiment, plus a generally positive attitude.

We are so happy to be here, in Azerbaijan.

Kisses from Denmark: Johanne and Mia.

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ToT in Azerbaijan started

Already some participants and all team members have arrived in Ganja, Azerbaijan for Training of Trainers. Few are still coming from Baku.

First impressions are positive. Venue is nice, surroundings are bright and rich. Weather seems warm for a night and promises nice tomorrow. For some Ganja has already provided a bit of cultural shock. In the evening few participants went for a small walk around the city centre and then to sleep.

IMG_9431 FullSizeRender

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Time to Say Goodbye. Blog post from Daliah

„And most of us will never see each other again. Never ever”, Lera emphasises. Her eyes look sad.

Today was day eight, the last day of the training, last day of interaction and most of all last day for most of us to see each other. The day started like always, with a so-called energizer. Isra asked us to line up, look each other in the eyes and express emotions via “numbers”. Sadness, happiness, anger and even excitement was flowing through the conference room, the room that seemed so familiar the past few days, almost like a piece of home. It was interesting to see how an assignment like that, something that usually requires people to step out of their comfort zone, was done so easily by everyone. People built up confidence in those eight days it seems.

Later on, we were asked to present our project in a “one-minute” speed presentation. The participants summed up the most essential aspects of their project and presented them enthusiastically. Some projects will be implemented. Some not. “But it was a great learning process” most of the participants agreed on.

At the end of the session, the trainers asked us to silently fill up blank papers, in which we write what we will take home from this project, what the most important aspects of society empowerment is and what we would improve for future implementations. The silence seemed bone crushing. Everyone knew the end was near.

“I feel gratitude but also mental devastation. It was one week of hard work and interaction. This left you tired but also happy” was said in the last round where everyone was free to throw in some last words. Everyone agreed. Especially about the happiness part.

The last moments were shared with joy, just like the whole week. And unlike Lera’s assumption we all hope that this is not the last time we will see each other. Because the past days were just too good.

მადლობა

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