PDA on Me, the Leader in Athens, Greece

Gathering her courage, our newest member Gabriella set off alone to the city of ancient Greek architecture to discover her inner leader, her strengths and weaknesses, and to gather new ways to improve them, during a training course organized by our partner You In Europe.

“During the trip I already had a chance meeting with another participant, thanks to a unique pattern of trousers, because already at the Bucharest airport I noticed the dress style of the Bulgarian participant from Spain, which accompanied me at various points of the journey, until I was certain at a bus stop in Athens , that we are probably going to the same place, and so I started a conversation.

This is how many of my friendships, perhaps for life, began.

On the first evening, almost everyone had already arrived for dinner, after which a small conversation developed between the participants. My Szekler, i.e. Romanian Hungarian identity was not at all strange or complicated, as a truly international group had gathered, officially representing 12 countries, but more than that in terms of ethnicity. There was a Spanish-speaking participant representing France, Croatian and Argentinean members in the color of Austria, and I could even mention again my friend who was born in Bulgaria but now works in Spain. I think the rich background has created a strong bond between everyone from the very first moment.

The first official day of the training was of course focused on getting to know each other, noting names and people, discussing the program’s rules and participants’ fears, requests and consent, which was followed by the introduction of YouthPass through non-formal activities.

As the second day dawned, we threw ourselves into the mapping of leadership skills and types with full force. During the team tasks, after presenting the different styles in a short play, we analyzed the behavior of the protagonists of a story from the perspective of the leader’s five key competencies, which led us to the conclusion that we can either be born leaders or just beginners, nobody is perfect, and everyone can improve.

The third day showed a very colorful palette with activities such as shooting a commercial, learning about the steps of team forming outdoors, and after lunch, learning about the importance of communication skills and techniques. During one of the exercises, although humorous, the cultural diversity of the team members caused a lot of complications, as some of them could only speak to each other in their mother tongue, which made it a bit difficult to work together, but in the end, everyone managed to complete the task successfully.

On the fourth day of the training, we explored the more serious topics of SWOT and PEST(EL) analyses, also examined methods for managing change and conflict in teams. A very interesting exercise for me was to help us understand the power of questions, where after the introduction of closed, open and perspective-changing questions, we had to reveal the identity of a mysterious figure by asking carefully thought-out questions.

Arriving at the last day, we received a real “leader” guest, who as the inventor of the Save the Hood environmental protection initiative presented their activities on the coasts of Greece, also revealed to us the secret of the well-oiled system of the work process with thousands of volunteers.

To conclude our activities, emotions came to the fore as everyone shared their thoughts and feelings about the week during the evaluation. For me personally, it was a great opportunity to discover the world and myself again on my own, which, although it may have been a series of obstacles, I feel I managed to overcome. Apart from the friendships I made with the participants, I came away from the training with a wealth of experience and knowledge that I will certainly use in the future in my work at ATA.”