The International Programme

24 Feb 2015

St Andrews, “Talk About Youth” Project.Hosting or participating in a Youth Exchange programme provides young people in the community with the opportunity to travel without leaving home. Local young people their community, and youth leaders contribute to and benefit from the exchange experience. The rewards for all involved are great, but hosting a project requires significant time and commitment from the young people. To arrange for the best exchange experience possible, the hosting youth project delivers a 12 / 18 week programme in which the group of young people participating on the exchange meet weekly. The programme is called “The International Exchange Programme” and is aimed at young people aged between 13 / 20 years of age.The programme encourages and prepares the young people to become conscious of different factors that will influence the experience and that they will need to take into account when planning the exchange. These factors include different cultures, religions, languages, diets values and norms that they will come across while hosting an exchange. Throughout the programme the young people are encouraged to take ownership, leadership and responsibility of the project. They will have to plan and organize each day for the other countries visiting Ireland to ensure they return home with the best possible feeling and understanding of Irish culture and what it means to be a young person growing up in the inner city of Dublin. Young people have to organize the different activities both social and cultural for the young people who are visiting. They also have to consider and come to a consensus on realistic factors such as times to go to bed and get up in the morning, incorporating free time, activities that they feel will give the other country the best possible experience of Ireland and of course that are enjoyable and fun. Youth participation in this programme strengthens personal and social development of the young people. It also allows young people the opportunity to engage in something new and different whilst also promoting diversity, youth leadership, empowerment, pro-active learning and friendship.Causeway programmeHi my name is Charlene Tucker I am 15 years of age, and I have been a member of St Andrews “Talk About Youth” project since I was four years of age. In February 2014 I, along with a group of eleven other young people took part in a youth exchange in Wales. This was a part of a 12-18 week programme in which I participated in weekly called The Causeway programme. The programme gave us the opportunities to not only participate in an exchange in Wales, but also to host two other groups of young people from projects in Belfast and Liverpool. The exchange was an excellent experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet and mix with other young people from different youth groups. The theme of the exchange was “safety on our streets” what it is like at home, and in different cities, and how can we could improve things. Each group had to present their piece of research on “safety on your streets” and a piece on where you come from during the exchange. This involved culture nights which entailed a variety of different activities promoting and offering insights into the diverse range of cultures in the room. One of activities we participated in was for each group to set up a table which consisted of traditional snacks and treats. We could see and also taste the different foods that young people enjoyed from their homeland.Our group along with the two other groups participated in a performance night. Our group also sang Ireland’s national anthem and demonstrated and taught the other groups some basic Irish dancing moves. This was a lot of fun and the other groups also done similar activities during their performance. Each group also had to bring with them a range of different Ice breaker games, and team challenges to engage in to allow us to get to know one another and also have fun. It was an important part of the experience that we were all willing to take part in different activities such as wilderness exploration, high wire challenges and water sports. This gave us the opportunity to take part in a wide range of various activities such as Archery, Rock climbing, Orienteering, Abseiling, Canoeing, Mountain biking, Cliff jumping, Bowling, and Coasting.Each group also had the opportunity to facilitate their own programme in their own country. This involved preparation and organisation as to what each group would organise for their session. Generally it involved different games and activities such as ice breakers and team challenges that they would commonly engage in in their own youth projects. It was a fun way to engage in different games and activities that we hadn’t heard or seen before. We also enjoyed the opportunity to facilitate a session and host fun games and activities that we do regularly in our project. It was also an opportunity to think up new games and things that we felt would be enjoyable to the other groups. Overall the experience was brilliant because we got to experience different cultures, religions, accents and meet other young people that were not from Dublin. We it also provided us with an opportunity to hear about young people’s experiences from different parts of the world.International programme Senior Hi my name is Ellen Smith. I am a young person in St Andrews “Talk About Youth” project. I have been involved with the project since I was four years old and have had some amazing experiences. I am involved in the international programme in the project. Through this project I have been involved in various different exchanges but the most recent one I am going to talk about is when we hosted a group of thirty different young people. This group consisted of ten young people from Finland, ten young people from Malta, and ten from Ireland. The exchanges lasted eight days. During this time we stayed in a hostel in the Dublin Mountains in Knockree. In order for us to plan and prepare for the upcoming youth groups we met weekly every Thursday. These sessions general lasted two hours. My friends and I along with the youth leaders had to prepare, Plan and organise numerous different activities, games and adventures to take part in during the exchange for the other youth groups while they were in Dublin. We had to really think about what we could do to give the young people the best possible experience. Also we wanted to do things that would give the other young people an insight into our lives in the Pearce Street area. I enjoyed the sense of ownership we felt as we decided and organised what we wanted to do over the eight days. During the time we hosted we organised and participated in a range of different activities which helped us to get to know each other and have fun. These involved activities such as Rock climbing, Mountain hiking, Lake jumping,Archery, and Paint ball target shooting. As well as a variety of different team building games and ice breakers to help us get to know each other. We also engaged in traditional Irish sports. This involved organising an instructor to come and familiarise us all with the rules and how to play rugby and Gaelic football. We then played several friendly matches. Amongst each team was an even mix of young people from Finland, Malta and Ireland. This was a great experience as it gave the other young people a chance to participate in a traditionally Irish sport and it was a lot of fun. It also gave us the opportunity to work as a team with the other young people and really encourage us to work together and build relationships. We also had a cultural evening. This involved each country presenting their own different food, treats and snacks that were traditional to their country. It could be anything the youths choose. The Maltase had a variety of different sweets that were not available in shops in Ireland. The Finnish had traditional chocolate, lolly pops and several different types of food that somehow advertised the “Angry birds” as Finland is where the angry birds game originated from. Our group table consisted of blue bon bons, king crisps, crackers, cheese and ham, corn beef and jam. It was an interesting and fun way to see what the young people from Malta and Finland like to eat and for our group to show of things that we would commonly eat. We also got to try things that we never tasted before. We then made presentations to one another in our youth groups about where we are from and what we have learned about the other countries in the preparation up to their arrival. As a part of our presentation we got to sing the Irish National anthem. One of the other activities organised was to divide into groups of six, Two Irish, two Finnish and two maltase in each group. Then each group was given a list of tasks. These tasks consisted of numerous different things such as go to the spire in Dublin city and take a photo, take a photo at the U2 wall, the Dail and various different attractions around Dublin city. One of the tasks was to get a photo with one of the young people in our groups mam. It was really enjoyable and fun experience and gave the other young people a wide range of experiences and perspectives of Dublin City. The youth groups from Malta and Finland even got the opportunity on their last day to see and take part in the South docklands festival. This was a great opportunity for them to be involved in a celebration of community and identity and it was brilliant. Overall the experience was amazing.I hope the opportunity arises for me to take part in another exchange again soon.