Youth Exchange on Disabilities

Between the 18th and 25th of May, we organized our latest Youth Exchange, the Youth Exchange on Disabilities, which could not have been possible without the help of the Erasmus+ program. The first day was all about getting to know each other, the town, and the Erasmus+ program. Of course, our participants were from all around the world, to be more exact, Turkey, Greece, Poland, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.  

On the second day, it was time to learn. We organized ourselves into smaller groups, and we began the Word Café. During this activity, our participants had a chance to share their knowledge and experiences related to the topic. After our discussion and the Word Café, we had a guest, Filipov-Soó Zsuzsa, from the Három Galamb association, who shared her experiences about taking care and working with disabled people, and what should we take into consideration when organizing activities for them.  

Throughout the following days, our participants had a chance to learn a lot about deaf culture. Our guests Remus Ilisie, who is a deaf artist from Oradea, and Lavinia Chițu, who is a hearing child of deaf adults (CODA), talked a lot about events organized for deaf people, usually organized by themselves. Also, they were kind enough to teach us some basic sign language, such as the ABC and common phrases.  

The weekend we tried to make sure the program was light but still taught a lot to the participants. We watched the movie CODA, which focuses on the child of deaf parents, and her story of how she managed to make her dreams come true. The movie won multiple awards including Academic Awards’ Best Picture and Script. It was remarkably interesting, especially, since our guest Lavinia Chițu, who is also a CODA herself, has a terribly similar story growing up. Afterward, Remus Ilișie continued with teaching the basics of sign language and talked a bit more about his culture. On Sunday, the participants discovered a bit more about our culture, since they had a chance to visit the Bethlen castle at Criș and the medieval fortress of Sighișoara. 

On Monday, we tried our best to play something resembling football, Goggle Football. Our participants experienced how it is when their vision is limited. They realized quite quickly, how hard is it to even walk in a straight line, let alone do anything else. After the amazing football match we had, we started working on our program ideas for special needs people, since we had the opportunity to visit the Három Galamb association for a day and work with the young adults with special needs there.  

The programs that were planned by the participants soon became reality. We started with dancing, singing, and playing child games together with our special guests. Afterward, we organized ourselves into smaller groups and set up our stations to start the activities. Outside, there was a puppet-show and gardening. Inside we had drawing, painting, gluing, and macaroni art. And of course, such a special day deserves a special meal. We made a big batch of goulash, which was delicious. 

On the last day of the youth exchange, we still managed to learn a bit about the local community and its history in the Molnár István Museum. Taking advantage of the clear weather, we sat down on the green grass and talked about the Youthpass and what our participants learned during their stay in our town. The rest of the day focused on wrapping up everything, discussing what happened during the program, what we discussed, and what the participants will take home with them.  

Overall, this was a successful and useful youth exchange. During the program, our participants had a chance to catch a glimpse of a culture that they were not familiar with, the deaf culture. They had a chance to interact and work with disabled people and learn about a topic with such complexity and so many layers. They had a chance to explore and experience things that are hard to come by every day. Because of this, I am convinced there is no individual among our participants who have not learned something during our youth exchange related to disabilities.