Active JEF

Living Europe: 5 countries meet in Latvia

Report from FAT- training 2007

, by Anders N. Thingholm, Linda Ø. Christensen

Living Europe: 5 countries meet in Latvia

The programme was mainly formed as a First Aid Toolkit (FAT) comprised of various non-formal education methods. The Youth in Action project was set up between the five JEF sections coming from countries of Latvia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Switzerland, Macedonia and Denmark. 23 people participated in the first round of exchange in Latvia from the 14th to the 22nd of April in beautiful Ramava right outside of Riga.


The programme had two main objectives. First of all to give JEFfers education competences towards communicating Europe and the EU to people at high school level of education. Secondly, to make a successful cultural exchange between nationals from all corners of Europe.


We worked in national groups with our prejudices and later on worked solely in nationally mixed groups. Shedding our prejudices and discussing wholeheartedly about Europe, we experienced that each person brought more to the table than just themselves. They brought history, humor and a surprising perspective you never would have seen staying at home. In the end, the synergy effect of the various European experiences, our love and enthusiasm for the great European project and the fabulous subtle, but extremely efficient ways of Maris Resnis and Liga Grundsteine, our trainers, made everybody see that one plus one really is eleven.


A keystone in the program was visualization. Making us work with our feelings for Europe through pictures and symbols our trainers made us more aware of our own positions and well as providing us with the good arguments of the 22 other people, which we could bring with us to the classes. We were all the time divided into small groups and made to visualize our work on posters and present them. Afterwards our work was put as posters on the walls of the rooms we worked in. Thus we had badly drawn pictures of teenagers (identification exercise), flowers (hopes and resources session) and our Café Europe discussion points all over the place. We also made a visual presentation of our countries so that in a way our background was presented too.

The trainers used energizers a lot and made us run around playing rabbits and caves for instance, which really helped both build the group and in keeping our concentration level high.

Reaching Out to High School Youngsters

At the end of the training all participants eventually had been divided into seven groups of three. It was the day before we were to perform in Latvian schools and we felt great time pressure. We made up seven completely different presentations about Europe all based on informal education methods. The next day we went very excited to the various schools all over Latvia and had very different outcomes. Most of us had a good European experience and a right thrill to the stomach where everything feels good. We succeeded in making people curious about Europe, their possibilities as exchange students or volunteers and JEF. We even recruited quite a few new members for JEF-Latvia! A surprising X-factor turned out to be the teachers. One team was planted in front of 75 people instead of a class of around 20. Next time we will make a Plan B!

Next stop

Next stage of the project takes place in Bern, Switzerland, from the 23rd to 29th September 2007. After getting a bit reacquainted, there are a couple of days with more education training, before three days of school visits are scheduled. For further information contact Samuel Müller or Dominik Gerber from JEF Switzerland.


To Zane Paula-Pavula and Latvian participants for making an enormous planning and organizing effort. Thanks to Maris Resnis and Liga Grundsteine for making it come through.


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