Here we are, more or less having completed the first phase of our youth exchange. Just before the finish line though, there are a couple of details still to be arranged.
- Being the host organization
Luckily or not, apart from enjoying the results of success, being the host brings quite a list of responsibilities. Having dealt with the most important stuff, here are some extras to be taken care of by you as an organizer:
- It’s the law: Follow the law and administration procedures in force – every project’s aim is to send a positive message…not send you to jail! Make sure you understand the legal context and adjust your activities accordingly.
- Materials: It is necessary to procure all materials for work in accordance with the agenda that you have created (paper, notebooks, highlighters, flip charts etc.) and also organize printing and multiplication of educational materials and/or branded folders, t-shirts, posters etc.
- Technical equipment: Make sure to provide all necessary equipment to facilitate your activities, such as projectors, screens, computers, scanners and printers – provide a “mobile office” and be prepared for any situation.
- Meals: You need to provide adequate meals for the group during the exchange, especially if some participants are vegetarian or allergic to some type of food. Also think about when and where you will have your breaks.
Definitely there are lots of details still to be managed, so make sure you write everything down and be as well prepared as possible!
- Being the sending organization
In this case, allow yourself to be more relaxed, especially when it comes to logistics and practicalities. Enjoy the fact that somebody needs to worry about it this time! However, you also need to make some preparation:
- Representation: Make sure that you are represented by some eligible members that will do credits to your organization. It is important not only for your reputation, but also for the project’s success which will offer you great results and advantages as well.
- Study: It is important that your representative is familiar with the topic and has studied or researched enough all its aspects. It is of no use to send someone who is blank paper and can contribute nothing to the process.
- Advertise: Participating in an international event is by itself a hit for your organization. Enriching your portfolio with such experience is quite a big deal, so make sure you properly advertise it to your network. This will probably raise awareness of your target group regarding your activities and increase your credibility, therefore also the support from stakeholders.
THIS IS US!
Focusing in our international youth exchange project though with participants from post- or frozen-conflict areas, namely an intercultural encounter, preparation seems to be more specific through another perspective as well, either you belong to the hosting or to the sending category.
Culture includes, among others, the form of government, economy, history, language, non-verbal language, education, arts, technology, science, school system, religion, perception of life & death, sports, eating & drinking habits, table manners, other customs & habits, literature, social life, media, advertising, social security system, traditions, national holidays, music, poetry, names, emotions, clothing, architecture, national heroes, norms, values, attitudes, laws, family life, nature, sports, pride, fairy tales, etc.
It is important to know as much as you can about your own culture and the culture of your counterparts. Everybody must accept that their behavior is rooted in and permanently influenced by their own culture. Culture can be seen as the psychological roots and the emotional anchor of a personality and denying its influence leaves an individual without this very important emotional support.
Living in and with another culture means having that foreign culture as the framework for all daily action. It is not possible to establish the same relationship to culture as described above to a totally new environment in just a few days. Thus, it is important to keep an anchor to one’s own culture so as not to „get lost.“
Keeping that anchor also means not denying any part of your own culture: Identification means accepting the facts, accepting past and current reality in your own country, accepting its influence on your own personality and thinking, but not necessarily advocating all that belongs to your own culture.
Criticism is allowed and encouraged but should be done within active discussion and questioning.
This especially applies to the „dark“ sides of your own culture in the past or present: corruption, civil war, anti-Semitism, slavery or any other things that cause a negative perception in other countries and are the basis of prejudice. Only by accepting that these aspects are part of your own culture and therefore a part of yourself, will you allow yourself to learn about your own culture through interesting discussions with members of other cultures. As you will often be asked about your own country and culture, it is very helpful to have some knowledge about your own background.
|What to know about YOUR OWN country|
|Geography||History||Political system & politics||Economical situation|
|Education & university system||Food||Traditions & Customs||Songs in your language & dances|
|What to know about THE OTHER country|
|History & politics||Historical & political relation to your own country||Economical situation||Do’s and Don’ts|