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Skagen Explorers; Challenging Ourselves to discover Cultural Identities in Europe
Start date: Jan 15, 2015, End date: Nov 14, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Skagen Explorers: Challenging Ourselves to Discover Cultural Identities and Ourselves in Europe. This inter-cultural project at sea has brought together … youths from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands to discover the Skagen waters and harbours through the eyes of seamen and coastal communities living in the North of Denmark and surrounding areas. The participants board the traditional sailing vessel Vega Gamleby in Skarhamn, Sweden and sailed together to Kristiansand, Norway and Aalborg, Denmark. They have lived and learned to sail together for thirteen days all spent at sea on board of an original wooden three masted topsail schooner. The young international crew taught them to navigate and manoeuvre the wooden tall ship in order to sail the vessel around the Skagen waters and learn about responsibility, diversity, tolerance and European citizenship. They have not only been in charge of taking care of each other’s wellbeing during the time of this project but have also been responsible for the safety of the ship and its multi-cultural crew. Living the lives of historical seamen trimming sails and climbing up in the rigging 30 meters above the sea. As the group got together onboard their sailing-home for a week and a half, they set course to discover the past and the future, all through an adventure and discovery of a life-time. Along the way they visited the city and harbors of Skarhamn, Kristiansand and Aalborg together, meeting the people living there which has taught them about different cultures and cultural identities. They have interacted with the local people of these places by playing sports with them, competing in a Selfie-competition and showing interested locals around the beautiful Vega Gamleby. Besides getting to know a new country, this also created opportunity to share their experiences with the people they met. Coming from different countries, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, the participating youngsters have all learned a great deal about being open-minded, tolerant and respectful. Taking part in this project with all the differences and similarities between the participants have lead them to acquire new competences and knowledge about sailing, navigation, leadership and culture. The group participating in the exchange was in total 31. All the European nationalities, both participants and crew, represented on board the vessel have come together as one crew of determined people, eager to learn from each other and will be just as eager to share their experience with the world surrounding them now that the project is finished. By working together as an multi-cultural team and being guided by the Sail Training methods, participants have pushed themselves in ways they did not expect from themselves, both regarding their emotional/mental state as their physical abilities. By keeping a close look on the participants their wellbeing and regularly sitting down with them, mentors have kept track of the progress and quality of the program. Since sailing a ship is a 24 hour a day operation, participants were all enrolled in the ongoing watch system. Combined with the intercultural learning activities this made for an challenging and demanding program, that has certainly met its goals of learning more about other European countries whilst having participants taking huge steps in their personal development along the way.

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