Youth Exchange, Poiana Negrii, Romania, 1-13 June 2017
By Ilias Chalkias
Healthy for Life 3rd edition was a youth exchange project in Romania that took place from the 1st to the 13th of June 2017 with approximately 50 participants from Scotland, Latvia, Germany, Malta, Slovakia, Greece and Romania from 18 to 35 years old.
The journey started at the Main Train Station of Bucharest where the participants had a meeting point with the organizers at 21.00 on 1st of June. From there, all together took a bus for an overnight ride to Poiana Negrii where the whole event was hosted. Poiana Negrii is a beautiful small town in the mountains of Bucovina/Romania. The accommodation there was quite nice. Even though it is located in the mountains, the hotel had all modern luxuries like Televisions, hot water and access to the internet through Wi-Fi without losing its cozy and rustic vibe due to its wooden structure, the mesmerizing view and the nature surrounding it. There was also a small market nearby. Αll this together made it a perfect location to host a project.
The hotel’s event room was booked through all the length of the project and it was used as the main room for some of the activities and for dining. The structure of the project was well organized with a balanced variety of different activities like sports, cultural activities and entertainment. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were always served at the same time and since there were buffets, the participants had always a big variety of food to choose from. Since the project was located at a mountainous region, the meals were made from local products and they were way different from the international standards. Thus some of the participants found them quite challenging to eat.
The main goal of the project was to raise the awareness of the participants about the importance of leading an active and healthy life style and the benefits it has. That was achieved up to a certain point from a wide range different sports activities including zipping, kayaking, a visit to an adventure park where people had to overcome obstacles while hanging from trees, archery and two hikes. The first hike was the most challenging activity and some people had trouble finishing it, the other one was a 2day hike with an overnight at a shelter where the participants started a camp fire and spent some bonding time. Even though the activities were ranked as easy to medium difficulty, the participant's different levels of physical condition made it quite difficult for some, while extremely easy for others.
The Greek at the top of the hill during the second hike
Another goal that was met, was to raise the cultural awareness of the participants. Through activities like theatrical acts and presentations, national teams showed their country’s point of view in sports and healthy lifestyle. Moreover, brainstorming in mixed nationalities groups in order to find solutions to current issues modern society is facing towards sports, gave the participants the chance to understand better other nationalities’ culture and their way of thinking. Some of the activities though, did not make any point as they should, leaving the participants questioning the reason for doing them. Another activity that should be mentioned is the video making one. The participants were divided into 5 teams with leaders/directors - the most experienced in video making. They were also given a day to create a short video about the healthy lifestyle. At the end, there was a presentation of the movies as well as an award ceremony for best movies, director, actors etc.
The participants definitely had fun as two by two countries had a cultural night dedicated to them, apart from Romania which had one night by itself. Each country had to present itself through videos, activities, traditional dances or through whatever way they liked. Also, the countries could offer some typical food and drinks so that everybody had the chance to learn about other cultures through activities and from tasting their traditional food and beverages.
The schedule was really good and flexible. Even though some changes were made due to weather conditions, everything promised was given as expected. During the last day of the project the participants had to declare the methods they would use to disseminate Healthy for life and Erasmus+ and at night they had their night ride back to Bucharest where they finally said goodbye.
To sum up, besides some issues that could be improved, the project was a really successful one, meeting its original goals, having its participants content and exceeding their expectations as well as leaving the organizers with good and constructive feedback for their future events.
The participants of Healthy for life during the first hike
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