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Contacting the World
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Oct 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Contact is a dynamic charity based in Manchester with young people at the heart of everything we do. We work locally, nationally, and internationally to provide life changing opportunities for the next generation of creative leaders, artists, and audiences. Contacting the World (CTW) is a unique youth exchange project which brings young people from across Europe (and the world) together to build relationships, exchange ideas and learn more about each other's cultures. With the help of Erasmus+, Contacting the World 2016 partnered with four creative venues in Europe, and one from Hong Kong who have outstanding reputations for working with young people and with a commitment to diversity and supporting young people from all socio-economic backgrounds to access arts and culture. 70 young people from the UK, Belgium Denmark, Portugal and Hong Kong engaged with the project for six months; they collaborated digitally between January – June 2016, and then met in Manchester for 10 days in July. During the digital collaboration process participants were challenged to respond to monthly creative tasks which stimulated them to think about issues pertinent to young people in Europe and to learn about one another's cultural backgrounds and perspectives. The participants were encouraged to exchange ideas, debate differences in opinion and be open to learning from their peers. The exchange in Manchester involved workshops, discussions and creative activities, culminating in a night of collaborative performance from the young people around the topics born out of the exchange. The young people took an active role in planning and delivering workshops, skill sharing sessions and discussions with their peers. In addition to this, we held public events throughout the exchange and ran a schools engagement programme, allowing the project to have a greater reach. CTW is a way of uniting young people from different countries and cultures, engaging them in a unique shared experience and empowering them to use creativity to incite social change. It creates a unique opportunity for young people who would never normally meet to interact, form relationships with, and learn from each other. The project aims to facilitate intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding through a creative process. Collaborating improves the young people’s digital skills, their ability to discuss and debate with their peers, and their ability to use creative methods to explore social issues. Youth agency is at the heart of the project and through participation the young people have developed leadership skills, raising their aspirations and helping them to understand the power they have to improve and inspire their communities. Through this project we have created a network of creative young people in Europe who have learnt first-hand the cohesion that can be achieved through collaborating with, being open to, and respecting others. Beyond the life of the project the participants are being encouraged to develop their creative practice and use it as a positive outlet to facilitate discussion and initiate change, in this way the life of the project can continue to grow and embed itself within their communities.
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