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Rita’s experience in Guadeloupe

During the upcoming exam session at school, organizing events for local youngsters and fulfilling my talents, I took part in Erasmus+ founded project “Youth Ecopreneurs Lab” in le moule, Guadeloupe. That was the best decision I could take and here is why.

The story starts back in February, when I received acceptance letter from my hosting organization “MIHI”. I remember how I called my parents full of excitement, telling that I will be one of the participants going over Atlantic ocean, which I could never imagined in hundred years.
Before our departure, Latvian team met up, chatted about our experience in previous Erasmus+ projects and shared our everyday values as well as goals for upcoming youth exchange. And there we were. Spending first two days in city of love, Paris, meeting other amazing participants and getting ready to take over Guadeloupe.

As we first arrived, we jumped into the warm water, soaked in the rays of sun and ended our night with meeting Guadeloupians. As the trip had already started for few days, our project officially began on 26th march. In our first day we discussed what European Union has to offer for youth. For me, some things I already knew and had taken part in them, but some were new, and the additional value for this activity was that participants themselves shared their experience in different projects they have been through European Union funding. Another thing to point out was the non-formal education tools we used to present our group work. Every group had completely unique theatrical presentation and it was a true pleasure to watch how everyone found their own way for sharing given topic.

In following days we discovered completely unique method for project pitching called “Design thinking”. First of all, I want to point out my teammates who were supportive, good listeners, helped with questions that I had and shared their experience in youth entrepreneurism from their point of views. Secondly, the methodology focused on solution-based approach to solving problems. We went through 5 phases – empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. Most important part was to research our target group which for my group was 18-25 year old Guadeloupians. After that we defined our problem – low level of working opportunities. Then we started our brainstorming process, tested our ideas with other participants. At the end we come up with pitch for youth center with diverse activities for personal and professional development to tackle the lack of educational support for the youth of Guadeloupe.

Another great method we practiced was “World cafe”. We did it by dividing in our national groups and presented support for youth that are in entrepreneurship in our countries. It was my first time as presenter and at first it seemed it will be difficult to present the same information over and over again. But in the end I actually enjoyed representing my country in this topic as each group had their own questions and I was more than delightful to answer to them.

Despite all the activities and new methods I learned, youth exchange would not be imaginable without cultural night and spending free time sharing life stories with other participants. Mostly I want to point out how united we felt with participants from continental Europe comparing to Guadeloupians even though it French colony. I will truly remember long conversations we had with locals, their interest in our everyday life in other side of ocean, not being afraid to come and ask questions that may seem shallow at first. Also it was fascinating to hear what difficulties they face living that far from European Union center, what are they values in life and what could be implement to make their living conditions better.

This youth exchange truly was the best decision to make as now I have come back with more motivation, non-formal education tools to share for my peers and knowledge of other opportunities I can take as European youngster. As well as Caribbean’s amazed me with diversity in tropical nature – fresh fruits, jungle, waterfalls, volcano, ocean, palms, sunsets, turtles, but most importantly – the uplifting atmosphere we created that couldn’t be imagined without great people around me.

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