Erasmus Youth Exchange “Breaking trails Breaking barriers “18-26 September 2023 (Lithuania, Telsiai)

In our ever-changing world, the issues of gender roles, sexism, and biases among
young people are more relevant than ever. These challenges hinder personal
growth, limit opportunities, and maintain inequality in all parts of our society. By
discussing these topics openly, we can promote mutual understanding and challenge
stereotypes. This is our chance to break free from the constraints of the past and
foster an environment where individuals are judged based on their abilities, not their

As young advocates for change, we have the potential to reshape societal norms
and drive progress toward a more just and inclusive world. We must work together,
support each other, and create a future where everyone can thrive, free from the
limitations imposed by gender-based biases.
For that reason, we traveled to Lithuania and took part in the Erasmus Youth
Exchange Project “Breaking trails, Breaking Barriers”. We met so many young
people from many different countries and cultures had discussions with each other,
exchanged experiences, all participants developed presentations, created role
games in a group learned more about these essential topics and therefore we were
an active part of a positive change for greater gender equality.

This Youth Project took place from the 18th-26th of September in a remote rural
tourism homestead called Minavuone in Telsiai which is in the west of Lithuania. It
has existed for more than 20 years and it is located on the picturesque shore of a
lake surrounded by old forests. All together we were 30 participants and 2 project
coordinators from 6 different nations: Spain, Lithuania, Latvia, Armenia, Moldova and
Georgia. Exactly this diversity of people and nations made this project unique and
very special.

In addition to the main theme, gender roles, gender equality and biases among
young people, our international group also planned and undertook many other
sports, cultural and educational activities like

  1. City Tour in Telsiai:
    The City Tour was led by a professional guide in perfect English, therefore it
    was very easy to understand her and to learn a lot about this historical city.
    Even heavy rain could not stop us from the tour across the center of Telsiai.
    One of the highlights was the visit of the bear museum. Not fewer than 4683
    bears are exhibited in this tourism center!
  1. Lithuanian dinner:
    After the incredible basketball match we met in a typical Lithuanian restaurant
    named “Senoji Kvorta” to have dinner together. There was a buffet prepared
    with many different traditional dishes, for example
    Traditional lithuanian samogitian dish made of sour cream, curdled milk and
    butter with spices
    It’s a Lithuanian cold beetroot soup made of beets, kefir, cucumbers, dill,
    boiled eggs, salt, spring onions and natural yogurt. With this soup also comes
    a side dish – potatoes.
    Those are potato dumplings made from grated and riced potatoes and stuffed
    with ground meat, dry curd cheese or mushrooms. Cepelinai are often served
    with sour cream sauce, bacon bits or pork rinds.
    And many more! All in all the evening was a big delicacy and we got very
    good insights into Lithuanian cuisine.
  2. Professional local Basketball Match:
    The Lithuanian representatives and coordinators made it possible that our
    whole erasmus group were able to watch a professional basketball match live
    in the hall/stadium in Mazeikiai. Most of our colleagues are living there and
    that’s why we all cheered for the home team. It was their first home match

ever in the first league and therefore the atmosphere was breathtaking, also
because of us!

  1. Bonfire:
    The bonfire by the lake was another spectacle of this unforgettable week!
    Before we could even start with the bonfire, we first had to collect wood from
    the forest. We really did a great job and we had wood for hours! A few of us
    turned out to be true barbecue masters and provided us with sausages and
    potatoes which we brought with us. We had so much fun but private and
    honest conversations made our evening seem very short and we were very
    sad when we had to start our way back. At this point at the latest we realized
    that a very close and intimate friendship had developed between us!
  2. Hike in the forest around the lake:
    In the middle of the week the coordinators organized a nature hike in the
    forest around the lake. We could have never imagined what to expect. The
    hike lasted around 4 hours and in this time we have seen and have learned so
    much! Some examples:
    > Learned about mushrooms, how they live, how they are connected, which
    are poisonous, which are edible and healthy…
    > Explained how to eat a nettle without hurting your fingers and tongue (very
    healthy because of their high iron levels)
    > Natural soap: There we discovered a certain plant named “Common
    Soapwort” which you can use for cleaning and washing hands, dishes…
    > We saw 2 extremely big anthills and we learned how an ant colony works
    and is structured
    > Pet bees: One of the coordinators showed us how to treat a bee properly to
    be able to pet it

  1. Volleyball Tournament:
    Volleyball was by far the most popular sport this week. We participants played
    almost every single break we had and it was like a teambuilding game

because everybody was welcome to join, play and get to know this ball sport.
A very committed participant even created and started a tournament.
Everyone played fairly, we supported the weaker players and throughout the
tournament we always felt like one big team!:)

  1. Sauna nights:
    On two evenings we had the opportunity to use the sauna. Almost all of us
    went to the sauna and after it many plugged into the lake to cool off. It was
    two very cool and special evenings because nobody from us expected sauna
    nights in this Erasmus Exchange. All you can say: A successful surprise!
  2. Presentations of Home Countries:
    On the first day of the Erasmus week we agreed that every nation would
    present its home country on each evening of the week. As we knew about it
    before we started this project, we were also able to take some souvenirs, in
    our case from Spain. Using very professional PowerPoint Presentations, we
    showcased all our different nations with their unique history, traditions and
    facts. The lectures were very informative and we decided to visit each other’s
    home countries in the future. In addition, each of the individual countries also
    cooked and prepared the main dishes of their respective countries. Every
    evening was a great success and we learned and experienced so much from
    the other countries.
  1. Dancing (Salsa+Bachata) nights:
    Part of the presentation of the home countries was the performance of
    traditional dances. There was so much demand for salsa and bachata that the
    Spanish team organized a whole evening of dancing. Many were so talented
    and motivated that within minutes they had mastered the basic steps and
    were able to dance independently with a partner.
  2. Morning workouts:
    The morning training sessions were always led by a very dedicated Erasmus
    coordinator, who also works as a fitness trainer in his spare time. To start the
    day full of energy and freshness, some motivated participants met early in the
    morning, before breakfast. Together we did a mixture of strengthening and
    relaxing exercises. Immediately after that, we would always rush off to our
    well-deserved breakfast.
  3. Energizers:
    As the name suggests, these are short and intensive exercises, movements
    or games that give you energy quickly. We always did this before new tasks
    or meetings to get energy really fast and we were able to concentrate and pay
    attention much better. The Energizers were always led by an Erasmus group
    member and most of them were very funny and effective!
  4. Special Thanks:
    First and foremost, we would like to thank “O2 POR LA VIDA” for giving us this
    unique opportunity! We would also like to thank the two Project Coordinators
    for their dedication and sacrifice in doing everything they could to make the
    week succeed and matchless. A big thank you also goes to the owner of the
    property who gave us such a warm welcome. Last but not least, a big thank
    you to all the Erasmus participants this week. Each and every one of the
    participants was responsible for making this week such a great success.
    We didn’t say goodbye to each other as colleagues, after that week we were
    one big family and some of us were definitely friends for life.

    If you want to know about this project or want to participate in the upcoming ones do
    not hesitate to contact Eko fun kamp or O2 por la vida in their official channels!

Created by Stefan Reif