Erasmus+ project “SPARK” – an international training course for youth workers

“Spark” project was aimed at empowering and building up the competences of civil society organizations, youth workers and youth leaders to support and run social initiatives and projects based on community needs, with a focus on social entrepreneurship.

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6 days full of activities and teambuilding

Ice-breaking Games and Troll Adventure

The first day began with a short presentation from the organizers and with “Ice Breaking” games to get to know the people. It continued with a presentation of each participant through a group miming act. The task among the groups was to create a miming role play introducing each member’s main interests together with their names.

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The day continued with a team-building discovery Game, called “The TROLL Adventure”
For securing the successful outcomes of the TC we all needed to please the local ancient entities “The Trolls”. In order to do so, the 4 smaller group’s that were formed went on a quest to discover the lost elements that were essential to recreate a water Totem. Each group needed to send an observer to the island and see the Holy Stone was the original totem was located and share with his team members all the details about how the original looked like, so they can recreate it.
The evening of the day was focused on sharing information among participants on:
– the level of experience in a)social entrepreneurship, b)youth work and c)international co-operation.
– each participant’s contribution.
– each participant’s personal learning plan.
– expectations and “Red zone’s”.

Discussing Our Own Community Needs and Challenges

The day started with sharing information about the organization’s participating in this TC, following an introduction of the official EU learning model and competences (skill/hand, attitude/heart, knowledge/head) which are part of the LLL (Life Long Learning) process.

Whatever we learn in life can be grouped in 8 categories/key competences, for example sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, learning to learn, etc.

Evening programs task was for each country to describe their community needs and give information on trends, strong points, problems & challenges as well as existing social initiatives. The next step was to form a mixed working group’s and work on the same background trying to identify and record the common elements on trends, strong points, etc.

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A pleasant and at the same time an informative film about Social Entrepreneurship and people finished with some theory, e.g. characteristics and definitions of social entrepreneurship, as well as a reflection about the day – what we liked, didn’t like, what we learned and what we wish/expect for the next day.

11 Social Enterprises

Next day started with writing the newly acquired skills and placing them into their specific competence envelope. Afterwards, small groups studied and analyzed a number of 11 case studies of social enterprises. Some of these enterprises raised debates on whether they are just businesses with good PR, or they are genuine, good-hearted enterprises that only want to save the world. Debating various differences between the countries, bank policies, EU standards, etc. The most important lesson is that we must look at the bigger picture, we may be doing or we may want to undertake a positive change but we may be doing more harm than good. We must consider all possible elements. 

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The 11 social enterprises that were talked about are RecycleBank, Project Repat, Clean Yield, Biolite, X-runner, Good Eggs, Better Shelter, Uncommon Goods, IndieGoGo, Maga’s Hotel, Goldie Blox. All these are trying to work towards the accomplishment of one of the 17 Global Goals of Sustainability, such as “no poverty”, or “zero hunger” by 2030.
After these examples of social enterprises teams of maximum 4 based on interest and on the social change, they wanted to create in their communities. Working with some business tools that were modified to fit social enterprises: the Social Business Canvas (explained with the example of Tom’s Shoes), SWOT analysis, and the cherry on top – THE Business Plan. 

Marketing and Finances

On the fourth day, there were two presentations. The first presentation was of a social enterprise based right here, in this very spot, on this very mountain in Hornjow: Norge Gir (Norway Gives). Norge Gir does a very simple, yet very environmentally friendly thing – collects clothes from the Norwegians who are dontating their clothes.

The other enterprise that was presented is the Alm Ostre bio-dynamic farm, based in Norway. It’s a rather small farm which has 150 extremely happy clients. Also, it is run together with young volunteers or people who want to get farming experience.

On the fifth day it was continued with learning about marketing and finances, later getting external feedback on the business plans and improving them.

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The Last Day

A circle completed and the time came to draw conclusions and summarise the Teamwork.
Collecting the daily feedback of each participant divided into groups in order to present the building competences of the whole group per category (e.g.: Spence of initiative & entrepreneurship, cultural awareness & expressions, social & civic competence, learning to learn, etc).

The day continued with a presentation on the current EU funding projects and opportunities like: ERASMUS+, EEA & NORWAY GRANTS, EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT FUND PROGRAMME & ERASMUS 4 YOUTH ENTREPRENEURS.

The group leaders were presenting ideas for future projects and cooperations. Another group division for “one on one” constructive feedback. What were the positive characteristics that were seen in one another that fostered the efficient & constructive teamwork.

A letter to ourselves…….A self-evaluation of our personal developed competencies there. Going completely out of the box: the trainers prepared a session of deep meditation in which were reviewed the journey here.

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Last but not least, the day closed with group feedback on the entire programme followed by personal messages to keep everybody a company on the way back home.

We will leave this place full of knowledge, emotions, new friends, creative ideas for future projects, a lot of positive energy and hope that this will be the beginning of another chapter in our lives.

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BTP period – 3 months

Returning to school with heads and hands full of new knowledge and energy for Bringing it to the Public. Meeting with the team, showing, telling, exchanging experiences and making it common knowledge.

Producing articles, pamphlets, videos, presentations, exhibitions, speeches for debate forums, books and more. Studying further the curriculum in Fighting with The Poor, bringing the truth to the public. 

Going to different schools around Europe to spread the new knowledge in various creative ways – speeches, newspaper articles, lectures at universities and colleges, debates and other public events, exhibitions – leading to a better understanding and inspiring to take an action.

Passing the final exams in Fighting with The Poor. Using the last months together to conclude our future perspectives and possible ways of improving The Poor’s quality in life with humble ways of sharing knowledge.

Volunteer period – 6 months

The Project Work in Africa or India in cooperation with Humana People to People. In this period, you can work at:

  • Teacher training colleges
  • Educating teachers for rural areas
  • Vocational schools for young people
  • Schools for street children.Preschools
  • Sanitation and hygiene in rural areas
  • Tree planting campaigns
  • Raising funds for social projects by forming partnerships and selling second hand clothes and shoes
  • Stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS (following the program TCE/Total Control of the Epidemic)

Arriving at the project in Africa or India, having left behind a courageous journey where fundamental human capabilities have been turned around, refreshed and energised by knowing that things such as travelling can be done in a totally different way than the mainstream tourist travelling.

Ready for doing the work needed at the project, bringing plans and materials from the previous periods. Getting to know the people at the project, the vision and idea of the project and the many concrete tasks to be carried out.

Carrying out the tasks as defined within the necessities of the project and by the Project Leadership. Fighting shoulder to shoulder with The Poor: building preschools, starting Garden Farming, doing literacy campaigns, eradicating malaria, teaching about big issues of our time while working as a teacher at DNS, starting income-generating activities, working as a TCE Special Force in the fight against HIV/AIDS – as a few examples.

Studying and working with your Specialisation in Fighting with The Poor, finalising with a People’s Exam and a written thesis at the end of the period. Acquiring skills in information work: making interviews, taking notes and pictures, writing summaries and reports, recording videos.

Living together with the people at the project, being a good example of living a humble life while improving things with small means to make daily life better.

Travel period – 3 months

Living on the road, being on the move, finding means of transport and places to sleep, talking to people on the road, being curious to understand and know about the countries you are traveling through.

Making investigations, meeting people, visiting their workplaces, staying in their homes, understanding their problems, meeting their culture and values and sharing thoughts with them about the world and the future.

Telling people about your venture to a third world country, trying out bringing it to the public what you have so far experienced and learned. Putting up investigations on a higher level, asking tough questions to self and to the group, getting hold of more answers and putting up new questions.

Taking notes and pictures, writing reports and discussing the seen and the experienced.
Finding good ways of sticking together in the Trios and in the group as such during the travel period.

Study Period – 6 months

At this school, you will find that learning is not first and foremost about listening to the teacher.

The school’s Program consists of a range of intense and spirited activities, theoretical studies and experiences that constitute the sum of learning and life processes carried through by a group of people who for a considerable period of time share a Program with each other that demands cooperation and efforts, and which at the same time is sprinkled with elements that are inspiring and also quite out of the ordinary.

Thus, learning will also take place through communication, deliberations, through working out your plan for learning and sticking to it, and putting to use what you learned, the methods you used, the ideas you got from it and the results you harvested from the training.

You will train yourself in being adventurers and survivors, living and traveling under very humble conditions, not using much money and always finding a way out by ingenuity, being smart and sticking together with your teammates.