This event, supported by ERASMUS+, was a youth exchange of more than 80 young people on the age of 18 to 30, from multiple European countries (Macedonia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland, Kosovo, Ukraine, Armenia, Albania and the United Kingdom) and it was a combination of workshops, debates, outdoor activities, educational tours, etc.

The event was held in Paris in the same period when the World Summit for climate changes COP21 was held – from 30th November till 12th December 2015. In this period, YMCA France and YMCA World organized two different events, which in great part overlapped. YMCA Macedonia participated in the exchange organized by YMCA France by sending three representatives in the first week of December.

The event had multiple objectives:
– Encouraging and developing civic activism at youth population in the area of sustainable environment.
– Contribution to COP21 during the conference.
– An opportunity of getting familiar with various practices from whole Europe in the area of conversation of the environment.
– Educational tours (visit to an organic farm, a modern center for managing and recycling garbage, etc.) with the aim of raising awareness.
– An opportunity for realizing and developing European and international contacts.
– A training for creating and developing projects in home countries.

The most significant activities were the workshops where each participant had the opportunity to work in a team with people from literally all present European countries. On these workshops, the participants debated and exchanged ideas and projects with one another. The best ideas and projects were publicly presented in front of all the participants in order to be transmitted in the rest of the countries as well, or so that other ideas be encouraged. Aside the workshops, short excursions or educational tours were practiced as well, and each of the participants had the opportunity of choosing what he/she will visit.

One of the tours was the visit of the center for garbage collection. It was interesting to see how this modernistic center offers advanced ecological methods for garbage collection by eliminating the garbage collection trucks and at the same it offers a bigger economical profit because the garbage is vacuumed with pipes directly from the citizens’ homes. The visit of the French organic farm, which is maintained with the help of the city and the country, was also interesting. The visit was divided in two parts: sightseeing of the farm and a workshop where the participants, divided in teams, made short presentations related to ecology. One of the most interesting activities was also the visit of Civil Society Village in the commune Le Bourget where COP21 was held. At this place, various stands could be visited, and could be obtained a lot of information about climate changes and potential solutions. Every day, before the beginning of every workshop were practiced outdoor activities where the participants got familiar with one another through games and fun, and then they started their planned activities prepared and in a good mood. Cocktails, dinner parties and a collective visit to a restaurant were also organized.

The impression of this event was the great opportunity for gaining or improving communication skills, the making of international contacts, learning to work in international teams, improving self-confidence when making decisions, encouraging civic activism, as well as developing more tolerance, respect and understanding towards different cultures. The gained knowledge from this event is applicable in every aspect of living because there were presented practical methods for improving not just the personal character, but the whole society’s character as well. The participants went home with creative ideas which have a great potential of realization in their communities.

Photo gallery of the event.

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