My experience at the Léargas Forum
Caitlin talks about the opportunity to meet like minded people and talking about ways to help our communities
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My experience at the 6th annual Léargas Forum had a huge impact on me. I would like to share my experience on how an event like this can give you the opportunity to meet inspiring people, learn more about things you can get involved with and simply have a fun afternoon. The event itself was free and open to any organisations who had received funds from Léargas for Erasmus Plus projects, such as schools or charities. The people who went to the event were mostly volunteers, youth workers and teachers. I went to represent the National Youth Council of Ireland.
An inclusive Europe
The event itself was held in Dublin Castle Conference Centre which was a really fantastic venue. With the theme of this year’s forum being ‘An inclusive Europe: Stronger together’ the day was concerned with bringing people together to facilitate projects. It started with the 'Experience Japan Taiko' Team who were a group of young Japanese people in Ireland, who gave us a performance which was really impressive and very entertaining to watch. Dublin City Councillor Hazel Chu gave the keynote address illustrating her experience as an immigrant in Ireland and how we have gone from initially being an open country to one that expresses racism towards refugees and immigrants. What I was inspired by and appreciated was her blunt honesty. She was not afraid to point out the issues we do have underlying in our society.
The impact of Erasmus Plus
This was followed by a panel discussion of which Tony Geudens (SALTO Inclusion), Conor Galvin (UCD), Dean Murray (NYCI Young Voices) and project participants who spoke about the impacts Erasmus Plus projects had on them personally and within their organisations. It was wonderful to see such a diverse panel of different ages and experiences as we got to hear a range of inspiring stories. While the younger people on the panel explored how Erasmus Plus allows them to travel and attend youth conferences, the professionals illustrated how funded projects are implemented in schools and training courses. I found that it was a very interesting experience as afterwards we had the opportunity to discuss and ask questions with the panelists which we don’t always get the chance to do.
Connecting with like-minded people
After this we went to lunch. It gave us time to be able to chat informally and get free food. I really enjoyed this because as much as the morning had been incredible, it was lovely to relax. Sitting at the tables I had the chance to get to know more people involved with Léargas and have the time to connect. There were also tables set up and on each one, a different project was presented. People from different organisations had come to explain what they do and illustrate their new projects after being newly funded by the program. These included ‘eTwinning’ and ‘European Solidarity Corps.’
What I love most about these events is that you’re always surrounded by people who are like minded, people who see how the world is and want to make a positive change. It gives you a chance to link up with new people and discuss ideas like future projects. It’s a place where you can take advantage of the opportunities around you but also offer what you do and how you can get others involved.
Breakout sessions were open to everyone attending and were presented by people heavily involved with Erasmus funding. These included A Cookbook for Inclusion by SALTO, Adding Europe; getting value from European Cooperation, Collaboration and Co-Teaching in educational projects, Adding Europe; getting value from European Cooperation and Collaboration and Co-Teaching in educational projects, Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships for Social Inclusion. There is more information about these on the Léargas website. I attended the ‘SALTO’ one where we analysed to benefits and risks for youth workers and volunteers creating their own course or project. This was a time to engage with youth workers and people involved in education to gain new perspectives and learn about what we can do.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the Léargas forum and I would strongly encourage anyone interested in what Europe has to offer to go next year.