Last week in Slavske, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine the second Polish-Ukrainian youth exchange, “Youth Without Borders” was completed. It brought together 24 active people in order to learn more about youth with disabilities and what an inclusive society means. For seven days the participants also were given the opportunity to make new contacts, discuss pressing issues and, of course, have fun. During this short time we managed to create a spirited team, united by interest and debate and even created a social campaign on discrimination and the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Two great groups of people, living so close to one another, makes it nearly impossible for a gathering not to happen. The polish, impressed with the Ukrainian frost, hospitality and low prices, showed incredible dedication to the local residents and hotel staff. They are also seasoned champions on Trostyan Mountain now, where the snow lay knee-deep and their hearts were captivated by Carpathian tea and mulled wine. Meanwhile, Ukrainians from all over the country broke their stereotypes about Poles and tried to share their culture on a deep level too. It’s no surprise such close relations were created, a remarkable effect of informal education, another topic discussed during the project.
Participants repeatedly showed their creativity, organizational skills and practiced teamwork during the preparation of various presentations and the creation of short videos. One topic caused particular interest, “Storytelling,” which can easily be used to promote social inclusion among young people.
Non-formal educational activities prompted interactive activities that undoubtedly brought together local residents, organizers and participants. Every free minute was devoted to the enrichment of human relationships, the most important aspect of successfully understanding urgent problems. Thus, the most important aspect of the meeting was an attempt to understand each argument, because, as they say, “There are two sides to every coin.”
In addition, the team successfully held a cultural event at the local school, stepped into the role of facilitators, joined the discussion of human rights, wrote a diary page from the perspective of a person with disabilities and paid special attention to their secret friends.
The Polish-Ukrainian youth exchange was an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of others, gain knowledge and friends, and freely express opinions without fear of judgment. The intense seven days provided many topics for reflection and inspiration for social activities.
The project “Youth Without Borders” was implemented through the Ukrainian-Polish exchange of young adults and was supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Ukraine.