‘’Digital Community Radio for Youth Inclusion and Diversity’’
New country, new cultures, new connections, experiences, adventures… Erasmus+ is the EU’s program to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Youth exchanges allow people from all over the world to meet, live together, work on mutual projects and find connections.
From August 22nd to 28th Volunteers Centre Skopje facilitated a youth exchange for the project ‘’Digital Community Radio for Youth Inclusion and Diversity’’. The exchange included themes like use of digital tools, community radio & smartphones as tools of empowerment, raising awareness of the community issues and to raise opportunities by equipping people with these skills. For one week participants from Denmark, Belgium, Macedonia and Iceland gathered in Ljubojno, a small village in the region of Prespa. During the week, we were introduced to very cool apps, how to use them, we explored recording with them, editing, and soundscapes while having a chance to see the beautiful villages around. In the beginning, everyone was divided into smaller groups that we worked with for the week. By the end of the exchange, all groups had planned, recorded and edited a podcast related to the region. With many of the participants being experienced in the field, we were able to learn a lot from each other. The activities took place all over the surrounding area.
While working on our projects, many of us got a chance to meet and get to know local people, some who have lived there all their life. In a village with less than 150 residents, the atmosphere is exactly how it sounds. Everyone seems to know each other and are very aware of the history. The character of the house that we stayed in created a unique vibe to the whole atmosphere. Old wooden furniture and items with each their own story were interesting and the hosts’ knowledge of history was impressive. The fresh air and cool morning breeze was refreshing to many, especially for those of us who came from Skopje’s heat. The two local restaurants made sure everyone knows Macedonian cuisine by now, and fed us well for the week. The shared breakfast with each participant’s help brought a homelike, warm atmosphere and became my personal favorite moments of the youth exchange. One full day was spent at Slivnica beach, one of the many beaches around lake Prespa. Another noon we spent walking around, exploring the churches and reached the next village Brajchino – another small village a few kilometers away. What was heartwarming to me was when a couple living in the village invited some of the participants to their home for a cup of coffee and shared their stories. The beauty and unexpected details about the village gave us inspiration for the project. We also had a chance to have interesting conversations with the youth from around the region while they introduced us to a youth center they created from old disused barracks. Some of the nights were filled with participants playing guitar, singing together…
In the end, we had 4 radio-shows (prepared by any of four groups of participants) that lasted two hours and we were listened to together with the locals in the ex-army buildings in the village which should be transformed to youth centers… Amazing!
All in all, the youth exchange was a positive experience. Participants made new connections, some reunited, learned something new and for sure had a lot of fun. Partners in the youth exchange with Volunteers Centre Skopje were Bergmál (Iceland), Art of the Box (Belgium) and Aarhus Global Media (Denmark).
On the 28th of august, after a week of all these new experiences, it was time to say goodbyes. Although, in most cases as well as in this, it’s more like a see you later!