Explore and Learn- Youth Exchange between Albania and Bulgaria

 What is "Explore and Learn"

"Explore and Learn" is the motto of youth exchange program, that was carried out from 7 to 16 October 2011 in the area of Dryanovo monastery, Bulgaria. Twenty-two young people  from Bulgaria and Albania contributed to the success of this project by sharing experience and knowledge in the field of Speleology (the scientific study of caves and other karst features) and outdoor activities.

Using the methods of informal education, learning by doing,  learning peer to peer, the young Bulgarian Speleologists shared their personal experience with the Albanians and gave them basic knowledge in caving - what caves are, what is their structure, physical properties, history, life forms, and the processes by which they form and change over time, how to use the equipment, how to climb a rope using Single Rope Technique, how to use maps and compasses and what are the dangers is mountains and caves. And all of this was made as an adventure for all the participants. They also managed to understand the cultural singularities of both countries - Bulgaria and Albania, by learning how to be tolerant, and having responsible attitude to each other.

Who made this come true?

The project was put into practice, thanks to the partnership of two organizations:

- Association of  Speleo Clubs in Sofia (a Bulgarian non-profit organization, that combines the caving and mountaineering clubs in Sofia)

- Beyond Barriers (an Albanian organization, facilitating the socialization of young people with disadvantages)

Financial support

This project was financed by the "Youth in Action" program of the European Commission, managed in Bulgaria by the National Center "European Youth Programs and Initiatives".

This is why, a significant part in the exchange was devoted to the "Youth in Action" program and  its capabilities. The participants had to develop ideas for future projects in the program.

What is next ?

The youth exchange program "Explore and Learn" is the first stage of presenting and spreading the Speleology science among young people in Albania and also the first steps of the participants in non-formal education in the program "Youth in Action". What follows next is expanding the partnership of the organizations, building above the foundations laid by this project with the help of the organizers and the future activitis of the participants themselves.

Resources:

- Bulgarian Federation of Speleology - http://www.speleo-bg.com/

- Association of  Speleo Clubs in Sofia - http://www.speleo-sofia.org/

- Beyond Barriers - http://beyondbarriers.org/

- NCEYPI - http://www.youthbg.info/

- Blogger page of the program - http://www.yeelbg.blogspot.com/

 Participant opinions:

Vasil Angelov, BG: “The Youth exchange helped me a lot to learn how to communicate. I don’t look the same at home and I will be glad if I bring at least a little spark at home. Expanded my mind“  

Erjola Hoxha, AL: “We learned a lot of new things. I found that I can do more than I expected from myself. I learned a lot for caving, climbing, exchange from each other, a lot of words in Bulgarian“   

Redi Muci, AL: “Got a basic understanding of how to use caving equipment and a first impression of cave exploration. Learned new things about team work, solidarity among cavers, responsibility and new ways to digest information faster.”

Gergana Todorova, BG: “It was very useful, because of the idea of learning by doing, exchange own experience and the games which make many people like a team. I was learning while I was teaching the Albanian participant”

Anonymous: “I learned things that I not only didn’t know before but also things that I had never heard about like speleology. I also learned how to work in groups with people very different from you. And we learned all these stuff by paling”

Anonymous: “I learned a lot about myslef and learned how powerful communication can be. Got to know different customs, culture, personalities in action. This was my first YE - everything was a challenge for me. Being myslef in a tottaly new environemtn. Passing my knowledge sharing my ideas - exchanging, being one of Bul-bania's citiznes :)  I lived it”

* Тhe content of this booklet does not reflect the position of the European Commission, "Youth in Action" program or NCEYPI