EARTH FOR MAN – YOUTH FOR EARTH
On 7th October 2013 a group of five young people (plus one leader) went on an exchange to Długopole Górne, Poland with similar groups from Poland, Latvia, Romania, Italy, Portugal and Turkey. With a wide range of ages it was clear at the start of the exchange we were going to have the time of our lives.
When we got there we were introduced to the programme and the schedule for the next 8 days. On paper the schedule looked hectic with tight timing; however we managed to do all of the important activities even after some participants fought for more free time! We got our way in the end.
The venue we stayed in had just recently been refurbished so we did have the luxury of a fairly new building to stay in while we were there. The hostel suited most of our every needs; it was warm enough and there were two shops very close by where we were able to get other essentials for living there. The food was all catered for although we had to volunteer one person per country everyday to volunteer to help prepare breakfast lunch and dinner. We thought this was a nice touch as it got us to integrate with other countries very early on in the week.
We went on excursions outside of the hostel to places such as Domaszków into the town centre where we followed a treasure map and had tasks to perform on the way such as bowling and giving out free hugs to strangers. We visited a museum which focused on matches, lighters and fire; moreover we were taken to a paper mill where we learnt a lot about the history of paper and different ways in which you can make paper as a pose to tradition.
We also got the opportunity to make paper from the liquid substance and pressing technique. We were able to take the paper home as a souvenir. A super opportunity we were given as well was to climb the mountain. In the same day after making paper we went to ‘TableMountain’ where we had to tackle lots and lots of stairs, creeks, rocks and raindrops falling from the leaves of the surrounding woodland. The journey proved to be very hard work, and there was a pub half way up the mountain, but we got there in the end and the views we got to see in the strong winds at the highest part of the mountain felt like a real achievement. It was very enjoyable and once we realised we got to the top we almost got a sense of fulfilment.
Back at the hostel we created a lot of presentations on flipchart paper about our own organisations, our countries and other topics such as Youth Exchange, EVS and Youth in Action. This proved to be very educational for over half of the participants as for a lot of them this was their first exchange.
Amongst the presentations we all took part in building rubbish bins which would be used around their city for years to come. We were given tools materials and instructions when split up into small groups so we could make the bins ready to be put in use. We found this was a nice touch on the exchange as we were able to build something with the other participants that is durable and would be used if and when we go back to visit.
The interaction between all countries got better and better throughout the week, there was never anyone sitting on their own as there was always someone to talk to. Our cultural evenings were split so in one day we did the presentation of two countries and then the evening was food and drink and dance from two different countries. The cultural evening always ended up in a disco with music, dancing and socialising.
Overall the exchange to Poland was an experience as a whole, even though most of the English group that went have been on exchanges abroad before we were still given new opportunities, sights to see and more people to meet. Every exchange has something new to bring to the table and this one will be tough to top!