You can learn under umbrellas

At the end of April, two of our team members packed their suitcases and traveled to Portugal, the home of cheap and delicious coffee. We visited a colorful, quiet little town, Águeda, in order to participate in a training course related to non-formal education, what it is, how it works, its benefits, and its downsides.

We started the week with some getting-to-know each other programs since we were many from many different places. We only had a short week to learn a lot of difficult names, but I can confidently say (or at least I hope I can), that we somehow managed. After our first dinner together, it was time to work and learn. The first program of the training was a simulation exercise. I won’t spoil anything for anybody, but I honestly hope everybody has a chance to “play this game” in their life. BUT, I will let you in on a little secret, I learned a lot about our society, values, and even myself. (Apparently, I don’t like to ask for help, unless it’s absolutely necessary.) We closed the program with an evaluation and closed the day with an international snack night.

New day, new experiences, new competencies that could be learned. An interesting and complex trainer’s perk is that he can pull a rabbit (or in our case a balloon dog) out of his hat. After our discussion on how to build and organize a non-formal workshop, then the smaller teams could start to work on their mini-workshops. Each team was given a topic (the EU’s Youth Goals, one/ team. If you are interested, HERE is a bit more information.), that they had to prepare for the others. It’s true, that we didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare, but teamwork made it work.

When we were ready the next day a whole rollercoaster awaited us. There were good parts, emotionally challenging, morally “problematic” and calming parts. It was a day with mixed feelings and mixed emotions, but it was evident that we learned a lot.

However, every good thing comes to an end. It’s a bittersweet thing to say goodbye to all the new friendships we just built. We learned a lot, but we left with even more questions. This is the never-ending circle of education, the more you know, the more you want to know.