Between 25 July -5 August 2021 , 6 young volunteers of YMCA Romania participated in the youth exchange  Over the (H)edge in Ommen, Netherlands, organized by our partner Olde Vechte Foundation.

 The project is all about exploring simple ways on how to work together with others, creating a common living space and designing various games outside in nature. Basically, it is about  to create a playful environment in which young people will be encouraged to explore  their own capabilities, to put  their values into practice and be inspired by themselves  and others.

During the 2 weeks of activities, the participants from Latvia, Portugal, Croatia, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria,  Greece  played and learnt outside in different settings, created a common living space with the rest of the group, discovered practical ways how to include themselves and others, created and organised games/activities for each other, cooked for each other, went on hiking, biking, rafting adventure in the Netherlands, share their learning within an intercultural group, basically had an unforgettable summer experience.

“We came to the Netherlands full of hope and energy, ready for whatever is yet to come. Even if some of our energy drained after a few exhausting days, the supportive people and the environment always pushed us to keep going. We had to sleep, eat, clean and cooperate all together with 42 other participants, which, as you can guess, was not easy. The fact that it was challenging, made it an even greater learning experience. We were constantly pushing ourselves out of our ‘comfort zone’, to adapt and overcome any obstacle that came our way. Personally, I feel that this experience helped me come to terms with myself, overcome my insecurities and realize that I am more capable than I’ve ever thought. ” – Vlad Costin, 20 years old.

“Outdoor activities, connecting with others, learning how to work as a team member and also as a leader are the things that made this experience special for me. Coming out of my shell was hard at first, but being surrounded by so many exceptional people, I overcame my shyness and I was able to just be myself. Being in an intercultural setting made me more aware of customs and traditions around the world. The combined mental and physical activities we engaged in, always kept me entertained and made me more connected to the others and the nature surrounding me. I am so grateful to have been involved in this project.” – Andreea Maria Pop, 18 years old.

“I entered this project thinking it will center around outdoor activities, but I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out so much more than that. Even though I considered myself a team-oriented person before, “Over the (H)edge”  helped me discover how to better accommodate my approach to different teams. It encouraged me to develop different ways of communicating and I learned to appreciate other people’s talents.” – Silvia Stirbu, 18 years old.

“This was the first youth exchange I’ve ever been to and it was different than anything I imagined. It was a new experience for me, that I really enjoyed. First of all, Netherlands is a beautiful country that I can’t believe I got the chance to visit. It was strange to meet so many new people from so many different countries that have different cultures but after the first few days I got used to it. Some activities we did were new to me but they were fun and encouraged me to socialize more. Also, they sometimes pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me have more faith in me. All these things combined made me realize that these kinds of projects help you learn things about the world you can’t learn in school.”- Emma Szilagyi, 16 years old.

“In this Youth Exchange supported by Erasmus+, groups of young people from different countries, joined by me, designed, prepared and carried out a work program. There we participated in a mix of workshops, debates, role-plays, simulations, outdoor activities. Over the (H)edge created a playful environment for young people where we could play games in nature while exploring different ways of working together. I felt like there was a space where I learned and exchanged different forms of cooperation. The main activities we took part in were workshops from the group leaders and the project team, workshops from the participants. There was also an outdoor aspect of the project – interaction with the local community, teamwork, team building, individual learning, learning by doing.” – Andrei Stirbu, 16 years old.

” It was interesting for me to be the group leader for this youth exchange. I was participating before in some international events and projects but never to have in my coordination a group . I enjoyed seeing them get out of their comfort zone, connecting with each other and with the other participants, creating for themselves and for others a great experience. We had the opportunity to create activities for others and also to interact with the local community during an outdoor adventure than lasted many days. My communication, coordination, sense of responsibility, initiative, flexibility and resilience were developed and I am looking forward to participate in another great European project” – Laura Ilies, 20 years old, group leader.

The project is co-funded by European Union through Eramus Plus program.