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Mladinska izmenjava: YOUth ACTivist Camp

Mladinska izmenjava: YOUth ACTivist Camp

*ENGLISH BELOW

In tam je bil kruh…

Naša slovenska ekipa je dobila priložnost, da se udeleži pete izvedbe aktivističnega tabora YOUth ACTivist Camp, ki ga organizira Active Rainbow. Potekal je od 6. do 21. avgusta 2022 v mestu Ommen na Nizozemskem. Tabor je eksperimentalni učni program, ki združuje 40 LGBTQIA+ mladostnic_kov in podpornic_kov v skupnem prostoru. Med 12-dnevnim dinamičnim programom smo skozi neformalno učenje raziskovale_i in doživljale_i različne oblike aktivizma. Projekt soorganizirata Fundacija Olde Vechte in Active Rainbow, sofinancirata pa ga programa Erasmusplus Jeugd in Erasmus+.

Eden najbolj zanimivih in povezujočih delov tabora je bil, ironično, naša (Asija, Erik, Eva in Gašper) pot iz Ljubljane na Nizozemsko. Odločile_i smo se za potovanje z vlakom kot okolju in denarnici najbolj prijazno možnost. Kdorkoli bi nas gledal bi rekel, da potovanja z vlakom nismo vajene_i. Najprej smo se odpeljale_i do Zagreba, tam ostale_i za kratek osvežilni oddih in se v Avstrijo odpravile_i skozi isto mesto, iz katerega smo pravkar prišle_i. Zato nam je pot s štirimi nekaj-minutnimi prestopi vzela 26 ur. Vendar nam je ta pot omogočila, da smo spoznale_i super sopotnice_ke in služila kot odličen začetek pogovorov na taboru. Vsi štirje smo se resnično zabavale_i, ko smo bile_i tako dolgo skupaj na vlakih. Jedle_i smo vse prigrizke, ki smo jih lahko našle_i, igrale_i Asijine družabne igre, se smejale_i, citirale_i Erikove neverjetne citate in spale_i drug_a na drugi_em v zelo zapletenih položajih. To nas je resnično povezalo in za to bomo večno hvaležne_i. Da sploh ne omenjamo največjega presenečenja, ki nas je čakalo – bil je Amsterdam Pride! To nas je res zelo razveselilo in napolnilo z novo energijo, ki smo jo tako zelo potrebovale_i.

Lars se je tabora udeležil kot del organizacijske ekipe. Zato se je Larseva pot začela že dva dni prej, saj je bilo potrebno pomagati pri pripravah, čiščenju, okraševanju in drugih tehničnih zadevah. Med taborom je skupaj s soigralkami_ci pripravljal različne delavnice in dejavnosti. Svojo izkušnjo opisuje kot: “Sodelovanje z ekipo in priprava dejavnosti na taboru sta bila zame poučna in zabavna. Poslušanje toliko mladih in njihovih mnenj ter izkušenj mi je dalo moč. Najljubši del mi je bil, ko smo skupaj s člani ekipe izumili novo metodologijo za delavnico. Ko več ljudi skupaj deli svoje znanje in ideje, se zgodijo čudoviti rezultati.”

Vse_i udeleženke_ci smo v fundaciji Olde Vechte bile_i sprejete z odprtimi rokami in z odprtimi mislimi. Tako smo bile_i tam osebe iz Portugalske, Švedske, Italije, Latvije, Češke, Grčije, Nizozemske in seveda Slovenije. Prijateljstva so se začela graditi kar sama od sebe in ob koncu nismo mogle_i verjeti, kako zelo smo se z nekaterimi ljudmi zbližale_i. Številni objemi so samo potrdili in poglobili našo navezanost na te popolne neznanke_ce, ki smo jih začele_i imenovati prijatelji_ce. Večina nas je resnično čutila, da smo ustvarile_i varen prostor za izmenjavo znanja, izkušenj in idej. Nekatere od teh idej smo že uresničile_i, nekatere pa še vedno razvijamo. 

Za nekatere od nas je bila to prva izmenjava Erasmus+, za druge pa ena izmed mnogih. Najbolj nas je presenetila odprtost ljudi, ki so sodelovale_i v projektu, kar je prineslo na plano veliko zanimivih tem, povezanih z LGBTQIA+, duševnim zdravjem in človekovimi pravicami v različnih državah.

V čustveni ali kakšnikoli drugačni stiski smo se vedno lahko obrnile_i na več ljudi. Od Cathy, članic_ov ekipe, naših podpornih skupin in tudi do prijateljic_ev, ki smo jih tam spoznale_i. Ljudje so nam vedno stali ob strani, me_i pa njim. Število šal in smeha, ki smo si jih delile_i tam, je neprekosljivo. Prav tako je neprekosljivo naše eksponentno naraščajoče sovraštvo do os. Organizacijska ekipa nam je dajala občutek kot da so del skupine in nikoli ni delovala vzvišeno. Vse_i smo bile_i kot ena velika družina. 

Velik pomen smo pripisovale_i “času zame”. V tej prenatrpani hiši je bilo res pomembno, da si vzameš čas zase in poskrbiš za svoje duševno zdravje. Ljudje so si vzeli čas, da so prisluhnili našim zgodbam, in me_i smo prisluhnile_i njihovim. Izjemno pomembno je, da ima oseba varen prostor, v katerem lahko deli svoje izkušnje, ne da bi jo kdo obsojal. 

A group photo of youngsters with rainbow flags in the city Zwolle.

Dnevi so kar leteli mimo nas. Nenadoma je bil skoraj zadnji dan in vse_i so se že poslavljale_i. Tako zelo smo se navadile_i na življenje tam, da se nam je vrnitev zdela skoraj neverjetna. Vsak dan smo se srečevale_i s svojimi podpornimi skupinami in delile_i svoje čarobne trenutke, ki jih je bilo zelo prijetno slišati. Kmalu smo spoznale_i, da je bil vsak dan poln čarobnosti. Od poglobljenih pogovorov z ljudmi, do poznih nočnih prigrizkov v kuhinji, plesa in svobode, vse to je bilo za nas kot čarovnija. Vsak dan je bil poseben na svoj način. Napolnjen je bil z različnimi delavnicami in dejavnostmi. Hodile_i smo na pohode s ponosom in spoznavale_i LGBTQIA+ skupnost. Bile_i smo tudi ustvarjalne_i in se izražale_i s svojimi telesi. Ukvarjale_i smo se z digitalnim aktivizmom in tudi igrivim aktivizmom. Vse skupaj se je končalo v zadnjih dneh, ko smo uresničile_i stvari, ki smo se jih naučile_i. To smo naredile_i z lastnimi uličnimi akcijami. Imele_i smo en dan za pripravo s skupino, nato pa smo naslednji dan odpotovale_i v Zwolle in izvedle_i svoje aktivistične akcije.

Resnica je, da noben 12-dnevni mladinski projekt ne mine brez drame. Vsi smo ljudje in vsi imamo svoja pričakovanja, meje, čustveno prtljago, izbiro življenjskega sloga, kulturne razlike in mnenja, ki se lahko križajo z drugimi ljudmi. Na nek način je tudi to del neformalne učne izkušnje, saj smo se naučile_i delati z drugimi in s svojo lastno psiho. Ali bomo ignorirale_i težave? Ali bomo svoje frustracije izkričale_i? Bomo skupaj iskale_i kompromise? Ali smo pripravljene_i delati na sebi in izzvati svojo cono udobja? Smo se pripravljene_i o tem pogovoriti in poiskati skupne točke? Zdi se nam, da je bila letošnja izmenjava bolj ohlapna glede discipline, upoštevanja dogovorov, ki smo jih vse_i sklenile_i, medsebojnega spoštovanja glede hrupa in točnosti. Ni pošteno, da druge_i udeleženke_ci čakajo na tiste, ki ob 10. uri dopoldne še spijo, tiste, ki se samo pogovarjajo in klepetajo v svojih sobah, ustvarjajo nered v skupnih prostorih, ki ga mora potem pospraviti ena od podpornih skupin, itd. Izkušnjo pa je zavrla tudi nepojemljiva količina os, kadarkoli smo jedle_i, in razširjajoča se želodčna okužba, ki je prizadela več udeleženk_cev in celo organizatork_jev, kar je seveda vplivalo na našo splošno energijo. Predlagale_i bi več trdnosti glede upoštevanja pravil, časa in dogovorov, ter več koristnih, navdihujočih navodil – primerov (zlasti za digitalni aktivizem), saj je šlo bolj za zabavo in prerekanje kot za učenje. 

A group of youngsters in a circle, listening to a person leading a workshop.

Kljub temu smo se resnično veliko naučile_i o sebi, tehnikah mladinskega dela in spoznale_i nekaj novih prijateljic_ev, starejše vezi pa so se okrepile. Zadnja dva dni našega bivanja tam sta bila polna joka in objemov, poslovil in obljub, da bomo ohranile_i stike in se obiskovale_i. Skoraj neverjetno se nam je zdelo, da se naš skupni čas izteka. Vendar se projekt ne konča na Nizozemskem. Ko smo se vrnile_i domov, smo morale_i še veliko predelovati in razmišljati. Poleg tega smo končno videle_i, kako lepa je Nizozemska, in zagotovo se bomo še vrnile_i!

*ENGLISH*

And Then There Was Bread… 

Our Slovenian team received the opportunity to attend the fifth rendition of Active Rainbow’s YOUth ACTivist Camp, which took place in Ommen, the Netherlands, from 6th till 21st of August, 2022. The camp is an experimental learning program that brings together 40 LGBTQIA+ and ally youth in a shared space, where during a 12 days skills-based and dynamic program, we explore and experience different forms of activism through non-formal learning. The project is co-organized by Olde Vechte Foundation and Active Rainbow and is co-funded thanks to the Erasmusplus Jeugd and Erasmus+ program.

One of the most interesting and bonding parts of the camp was, ironically, our  (Asija, Erik, Eva and Gašper) journey from Ljubljana to the Netherlands. We opted out for the train travel as the most eco- and budget-friendly option, also thinking about stretching our legs every now and then. You could tell we were not used to the traveling by train system as we first took off to Zagreb, stayed there for a refreshing short break, and went to Austria through the very same city we just came from. Hence, the road took us 26 hours with 4 several-minutes-long changes, but this experience gave us an awesome travel companion and served as a great ice-breaker at the camp. All four of us had genuinely a great time being stuck together on the trains for so long. We ate all the snacks we could find, played Asija’s board games, laughed, cited Erik’s amazing quotes, and slept on each other in very intricate positions. It truly was bonding and we are forever grateful for it. Not to mention, we arrived to a great surprise which made us very excited and energized — it was Amsterdam Pride! 

As part of the organizing team, Lars began their journey 2 days earlier than the rest of the group and helped with preparation, cleaning, decorating and other technicalities. During the camp, they were preparing different workshops and activities along with their teammates. He describes his experience as: “Collaborating with a team and preparing activities on the camp was for me educational and fun. Listening to so many young people and their opinions, experiences was empowering. My favorite part was when together with the team members, we invented the new methodology for the workshop. When more people are together sharing their knowledge and ideas, beautiful results will happen.”

All participants were welcomed at the Olde Vechte Foundation with open arms and with open minds of people from Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Latvia, Czech Republic, Greece, the Netherlands and Slovenia. The friendships just started building themselves, and by the end, we could not believe how close we had gotten with some of the people there. The many hugs and cuddles only confirmed and deepened our attachment to these complete strangers, we came to call friends. Most of us really felt like we created a safe space to share our knowledge, experiences and ideas. Some of these ideas we have already put into action and some we are still working on. 

For some of us this was our first Erasmus+ exchange and for some one of many. The thing that surprised us the most was the openness of people participating in the project which spared a lot of interesting topics connected to LGBTQIA+, mental health and human rights in different countries.

In a time of need, emotional or otherwise, there were always multiple people we could turn to. From Cathy, to the team members, to our support groups and also the friends we made there. People always had our backs and we had theirs. The amount of jokes and laughs that we shared there is unrivaled. So was our exponentially growing hate towards wasps. The organizing team felt like they were part of the group, never acting above the participants. We were all like a little family. 

We put a lot of importance on “me time”. In that crowded house, it was really important to take some time for yourself and to take care of your mental health needs. People took the time to listen to our stories and we listened to theirs. It is extremely important for a person to have a safe space to share their experiences, without being judged. 

The days just flew by us. Suddenly it was almost the last day and everyone was saying goodbye already. We got used to life there so much that going back seemed almost unbelievable. Every day we would meet with our support groups and share our magical moments. It was really endearing to hear these moments. We soon realized that every day was full of magic. From deep talks with people, to late-night snacking in the kitchen, to dancing and being free, it was all like magic to us. Each day was special in its own way. It was filled with different activities and things to do. We hiked with pride and learned about the LGBTQIA+ community. We were also creative and expressive with our bodies. We did some digital activism, as well as playful activism. It all came to an end in the last few days when we tried putting the things we have learned into action – by doing our own street actions. We had a day to prepare with a group, and then the next day we traveled to Zwolle and executed our activist actions.

Truth is, no 12-days-long youth project goes drama-less. We are all people and we all have our expectations, boundaries, emotional baggage, lifestyle choices, cultural differences and opinions that may cross with other people. In some way, this is also a part of non-formal learning experience as you learn to work with others and your own psyche. Will you ignore the problem and not speak up at all? Do you just need to yell out your frustrations? Will you look for compromises together? Are you willing to work on yourself and challenge your comfort zone? Are you willing to talk about it and find common ground? It seemed that this year’s exchange was more loose regarding discipline, keeping up with the agreements we all made, respecting each other regarding noise and being on time. It is not fair for other participants to wait on those still asleep at 10 am, those just chatting and gossiping in their rooms, creating a mess in common areas that one of the support groups has to clean up afterwards, etc. However, the experience also got set back by an unfathomable amount of wasps whenever we ate and a spreading stomach infection that had affected several participants and even organizers, which had affected our overall energy. We would suggest more firmness on the adhesion to the rules, time and agreements as well as more helpful, inspiring instructions-examples (for digital activism especially) because it was more about having fun and arguing rather than learning. 
Nevertheless, we truly learned a lot about ourselves, youth work techniques and made a couple of new friends, while older bonds became stronger. The last two days of our stay there were full of crying and hugging, saying goodbye and making promises to keep in touch and visit each other. It was almost unbelievable our time together was coming to an end. The project doesn’t end in the Netherlands though. When we got back home, we had a lot of processing and thinking to do. Besides, we finally saw how beautiful the Netherlands are and we will for sure be back!

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