On the Way to a Strong Youth Network

Team building with the X&Y game, creating a long carpet from the National Plan of Actions, trading with our skills at the market of competences – some of the methods that were used during the recent meeting of Malteser Youth International Network in Ukraine in order to reach the vision and “Inspire youth work that matters”.

Following the meetings in Slovakia, Malta and Poland last year, the first international meeting of the network in 2017 took place at Lviv, in the Western part of Ukraine from 9-12 March. The objectives were to increase the communication, coordination and motivation within the Network, to specify the personal involvement of each member and to reinforce their commitment, to have a better understanding of the network, and to design the next phases of the project.

Photo: Marta Yaruchyk

The Malteser Youth International Network itself was born following an international project aimed to revitalize and improve the quality of existing youth work operations within the Order of Malta Relief Organizations in the Central and Eastern Europe. Currently the network is set up from the youth representatives of 9 countries: Albania, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Photo: Marta Yaruchyk

The first day of the meeting started with the introduction of the objectives and agenda of the upcoming days. After that the Polish team prepared a game in order to get to know the new members of the network through the exchange of personal profiles. After welcoming the new participants, a team building method followed with the title X&Y where the players could reflect on working in smaller and bigger teams, and that there is a need for increased communication if we would like to reach the same aims and visions.

Photo: Marta Yaruchyk

The second day was the time for the evaluation of the previous period on the level of the action teams and personally from each network member. The personal involvement and motivation session evolved into another part about exploring the resources of the Network: each participant could prepare some post-its sticked on themselves with skills they have which they could share with the other members. A market of skills started in the conference room to see how the transfer of knowledge could work in the upcoming months. From these competences the idea came to create workshop sessions during the next two international meetings in order to “Transfer knowledge, share experiences, and best practices in the field of youth work” – as it is included in the Network Statement.

Market of skills (Photo: Marta Yaruchyk)

Another method used during the sessions was to create a carpet of the National Plan of Actions of all the nine countries who are part of the network. A long line of flip chart papers offered a blank space for the creativity of the country representatives to list and later on to share information about their most important local programs.

During the meeting, planning the further actions of the Malteser Youth International Network was an important part as well. The time spent together with the working groups was essential in order to reach a common understanding, see the aim of the projects, and plan the timing of the actions. The steps were made to apply for Renovabis and Erasmus+ fund with a communication project, to create a program in all the countries the same day and to start the preparation of Eurocamp, connecting volunteers from different countries.

Photo: Lutz Hüser

Sustainability of the Network was also a core topic of the meeting. Network members started brainstorming with the help of the mind map method to see what kind of opportunities they have for the upcoming years.

Free time activities, exploring the city of Lviv were also part of the program and helped in creating the group cohesion among the Network members.

After the four intensive days of the meeting, the time had come to make the conclusions of the workshop. Participants had the chance to throw the bad moments in the garbage, and to have a positive and personal feedback time with all the youth representatives before going home and continuing work at their countries. These special moments and connections helped to bring motivation and energy home.

Reka Szakszon