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Working Together
Start date: 15 May 2015, End date: 14 Nov 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The ‘Working Together’ project took place under the auspices of the European Methodist Youth and Children’s Council and was hosted by the Irish Methodist Youth and Children’s Department at the Bushmills Activity Centre in Northern Ireland. There were over 60 people participated in the event with most of the young people being between the ages of 13-17 with some from isolated and/or deprived areas. Unfortunately, we received information that the project was to receive funding but after the camp had taken place. Due to the project being put on the reserve list and not being sure of receiving funding, the group from Bulgaria had to pull out as the costs were too much for their participants. This was very disappointing. A small number of other participants came from Sweden (3), Switzerland (1) and Russia (1) which added to the variety of the project. The objectives of the gathering were fivefold: 1. That the young people would have a better understanding of their own selves and their own identity. 2. That they would understand a little more of their own culture and how it relates to other cultures. 3. That they would be introduced to other cultures 4. That the experience of learning would be developed through team building and 5. That there would be better awareness of cultural diversity through the activities undertaken in the teams that developed. These objectives were met through morning gatherings to discuss topics in small group settings, individual time to reflect on the discussions, interactive seminars and reflections in plenary. The afternoons were filled with outdoor activities, including watersports, climbing and high ropes activities, organized by the centre staff in which the project was based, some cultural visits and an Olympics style activity afternoon where teams competed against one another. The evenings were a combination of seminars looking at issues for young people, workshops such as photography, percussion, drama and storytelling, as well as a talent evening where everyone participated. The interaction between the young people was fantastic as they fully engaged in all the activities and learnt much from one another. One participant from the Irish church said, ‘Above all, I loved the cultural differences and attempting to speak languages such as Latvian, Swedish and German…one thing I learned about myself is that I like to be in control of my life and do things my way.’ Another participant said, ‘This was the best camp we have been to. We got to know people from different countries and now we have friends in different parts of Europe.’ The participation of the young people allowed the objectives to be met. They shared their own stories and experiences and allowed others to see the different ways of thinking about things, enjoying each other’s cultural differences and working together in teams to enrich each other’s lives as well as have fun doing activities that developed their teamwork and leadership skills and showed the talents that they have in many different areas of their lives. The long term benefit is relationships that have grown and will be developed through social media and communications such as Skype. There are already conversations about German young people visiting again next summer with one of the groups that were represented by the young people from the Irish Methodist Church.
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