Sharing and Inspiration in Youth Work

Encouraging personal and professional development by sharing skills and competences and creating steps and plans for 2018 in order to reach the sustainability of the network – the previous meeting of Malteser Youth International Network in Albania from 8-11 June was focusing on these topics.

After meeting in Ukraine in March, the first time this year within the frames of the project “A Strong Youth Network for a Long Term Positive Change”, the second opportunity for the 9 member countries (Albania, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine) to meet and discuss the upcoming projects and share their knowledge was in the city of Shkodra, Albania.

At the Shkodra lake (Photo: Michal Rzysko)

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 the above mentioned 9 countries.

A tradition born during the meetings of the network is to include some team building games and methods, prepared by one of the countries during the first day, following the introduction of the agenda and goals of the event. This time all members could share their association for the question: “How do you imagine the network as an image?” Some mentioned a box full of surprise and valuable content, others see the work as a mountain which is inspiring, but hard to climb. Based on one of the member, the network could be a trendy free application on the phone which worth sharing, someone else sees the community as an open door, where all the people need to have the courage to enter, and they can find important things for themselves.

Structured way of working: map of the action bubbles (Photo: Michal Rzysko)

Following the round of associations, the Network members had the chance to take part in a snake game which was transformed from the virtual reality of the early age mobile phones to the real world. The aim of the game was to move together as a group, giving instructions to the blindfolded players, and to reach the place in the room without stepping on bombs placed in the playing field.

In the evening, the network members could attend the opening ceremony of a new elderly care home opened in Shkodra by the Albanian Malteser organisation.

At the opening of the elderly care centre

A workshop day was offered to the network for the first time. On the second day of the meeting, participants could choose from two workshops in the morning and two in the afternoon. All of them were facilitated by network members, sharing their skills and competences, which reflects to one of the activities, which can be found in the Network Statement: “Transfer knowledge, share experiences, and best practices in the field of youth work”.

Documenting is important (Photo: Michal Rzysko)

In the morning, one of the workshops was about visualization and how to create logical and creative flip charts in order to be more professional and catch the attention of the audience. The other workshop in the morning session was about playing methods and pedagogy of games.

Visualization workshop (Photo: Michal Rzysko)

From the lunch, the second part of the day was set at a location, next to the Lake Shkodra, providing the environment for the afternoon workshops about creative public relations and outdoor activities & education.

Outdoor activities and education workshop (Photo: Michal Rzysko)

The third day was focusing on the sustainability of the network. After listing the actions, projects and results of the past, the members could share their dreams and visions for the upcoming period with the help of a timeline.

Following that, group discussions were organized around four topics with the help of the World Café method. Participants had time for brainstorming and putting their ideas about 4 topics: short term activities, long term activities, free resources activities and financed projects.

Sustainability session (Photo: Michal Rzysko)

As a result, with the guidance of the leadership team, a plan was created about the future of the network with current and postponed action teams, opportunities the whole network could use and further responsibilities for the network leaders.

Following the sessions on Saturday, the afternoon was organised around team building and free time activity at the seaside, where the network members could also visit the location of the Albanian summer camps.

Location of the Albanian summer camp (Photo: Michal Rzysko)

The last day of the meeting, the first session was the time for unfinished plans: creating plans for the action teams, invitation of the countries to the German Bundesjugendlager camp, sharing information about the upcoming network meeting in Germany.

Farewell group picture (Photo: Michal Rzysko)

After the final evaluation and feedback, all the participants started their journey back home, preparing for summer camps in their countries, using all the new skills and methods they learned during their time in Albania. The network members considered the meeting as one of the most fruitful occasions so far, which gave them lots of motivation and energy, and leading them closer to the vision of the network, so that they can “inspire youth work that matters”.

See you soon! (Photo: Lutz Hüser)

Reka Szakszon