Usage of non-formal education methods illustrated with an example of successful youth exchange “Explore common roots for not being rude”

author: Maryia Hlukhava

The two countries of Ukraine and Poland has common history as neighbors. Both positive and negative experience in relations those two countries have relived.  Due to the huge inflow of Ukrainian population to Poland the relationships between the nations are getting tighter and anxiety is getting higher as well. Due to that fact is very important  is to build up clear and wise strategy for close cooperation which will lead to mutual understanding between two nations. Non-formal education can be the loophole to the way out, to begin to help to understand young people how empathy, tolerance and ability to resolve conflicts can lead to modern and intelligent society.

The project “Explore common roots for not being rude” gathered 19 young people from Ukraine and Poland aged 18-25, in Warsaw, Poland 3-9 September 2017. Young people from all walks of life especially from rural areas during 7 days learned how stereotype leads people minds and decisions, their attitudes and opinions. With the help of non-formal education methods we tried to help them to resolve the conflicts. Below you will find a few methods described.

Ice-breaking games - An ice breaker is an activity, game, or event that is used to welcome and warm up the conversation among participants in a meeting, training class, team building session, or another event. Any event that requires people to comfortably interact with each other and a facilitator is an opportunity to use an ice breaker.
An effective ice breaker will warm up the conversation in your training class or meeting, reinforce the topic of the session, and ensure that participants enjoy their interaction and the session.
When participants don’t know each other, the ice breaker will help them introduce themselves to the other participants.

During our youth exchange we devoted one session to ice breakers to make young people feel comfortable, one of the examples of and Ice-breaker is the speed dating when participants draw the clock board with hours and find a partner for  “a date” per each hour. When all of them filled their clock boards and find the partners. Facilitator names the hour (they can be randomed) and gives small amount of time (30s, 1m, 2m)  to discuss the topic. Topic can be different, but for people who don’t know each other it’s better to choose general information which won’t be a barrier for the discussion and can be talked over in a few minutes.

Facilitator uses different games to make people know each other, increasing energy or enthusiasm levels, making people think etc. When the group feels tired and sleep is very useful to use energires

Participants think of an adjective to describe how they are feeling or how they are in general. The adjective must start with the same letter as the participant’s name for instance: “I’m Henry and I am happy”. They can also use the special move describing the adjective.

Team-building activities. Even the best groups can benefit from team building exercises; they're a great way of improving communication, morale, motivation, productivity, helping participants to get to know each other better, and learning about one’s strengths and weaknesses. Team building activities can be used by any business, large or small, during the workshops, trainings, schools and during the youth exchanges.

In this fun activity, the  group is divided in 4 sub-groups where each team has to build a high and stable  building only with the help of  provided materials (macaroni, marsh-mallows, cheese, paper). Besides the group should make up a project of a building to win a tender (the purpose, the pluses, target audience). After the presentation is important to discuss how it worked out in the group, who was the leader, who made up the idea, who was the constructor, the way the communication was led).

One of the topics of the youth exchange were conflict resolving strategies. Nowadays this topic is actual everywhere not only between two nations representatives but between two personalities in a group, in their work etc. With the help of different simulation games we tried to encourage young people to talk, to listen, to begin to understand which ways are working in the conflict resolving strategies. Below you will find the example of the activity which will generate the conflict situation in the group and will show how to resolve and then reflect on the session.

“Anthropologists and natives” – the group is divided by two ( anthropologists and natives) each of the group should be gender balanced. One of the group is leaving the room not to hear the instructions for the second one.  “The anthropologists” should study “the natives” inhabiting an Iceland in order to build up economic  and touristic relations with them. “ The anthropologists” can use different methods to talk with natives (accept violence). “The natives” have the instructions from the facilitator how they should behave and how to talk. There instructions are only two: women are not allowed to talk with stranger men (to find a contact they need to have a man from the natives tribe next to her) and the second instructions is every question should be answered by “Yes” (smile) or “No”(without smile) “The natives” shouldn’t reveal the instructions but not avoid contact with “the anthropologists” after some time of trying two groups should share in groups their emotions: “fats, feelings, interpretations”  Then two groups represent their observations and make an opinion about the other group.  The exercise reveals that while contacting with other we don’t see the non-verbal communicates, as we tend to interpret other’s behavior on the basis of our set of values.  

During the youth exchange the process of evaluation plays a big role as it’s important for organizers to have a feedback information from participants in order to make the program flexible and interesting for everyone. In the end of the day is crucial to have a reflection. In smaller groups participants can discuss ongoing topics and issues of the day. “Explore common roots for not being rude” used also medium  and final evaluation in the whole group (everybody wrote a line of the project with ups and down’s). During the project we used the following example of reflection activity:

“Trash and a memory box” – each participant wrote things on a piece of paper which can be threw away and those which will be taken by them home. Each could express themselves on their choice.
Abovementioned non-formal education methods led our youth exchange “Explore common roots for not being rude” to success. We hope that these tools will help training, youth exchanges, seminars organizers in group work.

Compass: Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People

The above mentioned methods have contributed to the success of the youth exchange "Explore common roots for not being rude". Participants rated the organization well and showed many positive skills that they acquired or developed during the exchange. We hope the article will help the exchange organizers, trainers and trainers to achieve similar success.

About the project:

European House of Youth Meetings is  organizing  and hosting the youth exchange project “Explore common roots for not being rude”

The youth exchange is sponsored by “Polsko-Ukraińska Rada Wymiany Młodzieży” ( Polish-Ukrainian Youth Exchanges council.)

The main objectives of the projects are: to explore common roots in the history and unite participants of the youth exchange to promote peace-building, anti-discrimination, equality and non-violent communication principals; to make participants know how to resolve conflict situations, inspire youngsters to become ambassadors of Peace in their communities.

The youth exchange will take place in Warsaw, Poland in September 3-10.