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A Touch of sLOVEnia
Start date: Aug 1, 2015, End date: Dec 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

International Youth Exchange "A Touch of sLOVEnia" We live in a fast paced and increasingly competitive world that often leaves little room for love - the most basic thing that connects us all, promotes our growth and gives meaning and true beauty to our existence. To bring some more of the much-needed "Vitamin L" to our common world and interpersonal relationships, an international project "A Touch of sLOVEnia" was developed by Metta Association and its partners. The project brought together youth workers from four European countries, and has addressed in particular the need of young people for warmth and acceptance, the need for unrestricted expression of their ideas, opinions and personalities as well as their need to be heard, respected and lovingly accepted. Youth Exchange was held from 17th to 27th August 2015. It brought together 25 young motivated participants from Estonia, Italy, Romania and Slovenia, almost half of which were participants with fewer opportunities. It took place on a small organic farm near Celje, Slovenia, where young people, under professional mentoring, worked together to create a friendly and supportive atmosphere in which everyone was able to fully develop their potential. Such a pleasant and safe environment enabled their personal growth, co-creation and in-depth interactive exploration of socially relevant topics, such as the deepening of intercultural dialogue, tolerance, non-discrimination, non-violent communication, justice, equity and social cohesion. The methodology used was based on the principles of active participation and informal and non-formal learning. Theoretical aspects were integrated in an interactive way. The project included a variety of activities aimed at improving social skills of the participants. Special attention was given to the reflection process and evaluation of learning outcomes.There was a full-day public event ("Path of Awakening the Senses") carried out within the project, which presented our work to the general public and offered the possibility of in-depth personal experience and interactive participation of the local population. The whole concept of the exchange was designed to promote self-awareness, autonomy, and self-esteem of the participants. The youth have improved their social skills as well as their ability of cooperation and teamwork. Mutual solidarity and ability to empathize were increased. Most importantly, the participants have learned how to establish and maintain genuine and healthy interpersonal relationships. Many of them were inspired to take a more active role in a society. Next to that they've practiced communication in a foreign language (English), thereby improving their language skills and learning about the multicultural aspect of communication. This strengthened the intercultural awareness of the participants and increased tolerance, friendship and cooperation between members of different cultures. Besides that the youth have mastered various practical skills and knowledges and have, by numerous examples of good practice, adopted a respectful and responsible attitude towards environment. As a long-term effect of the project we can consider in particular that the majority of the participants managed to establish a more loving and responsible attitude to oneself, to other people and to the environment. Such an attitude will continue to enable the unhindered development of each individual and encourage his or her future positive performance, while, at the same time, it is a necessary foundation for a healthy and harmonious society as a whole.
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