The training for youth workers was held in the period 17-21.07.23. in Borovets, bringing together the teams from youth centers from Burgas, Stara Zagora, Pernik, Dobrich, Vratsa, Plovdiv, Montana and Gabrovo. The training module was divided into multiple sessions that touched current topics in youth work. Four mentors, certified by the Council of Europe, facilitated the training. They were constantly at our side, open to questions and support. The team included Margarita Spasova, Jaffer Saatchi, Stefan Georgiev and Natalia Zhivkova – trainers who describe themselves as “living” in the field of non-formal education with diverse and complementary experiences and expertise. They worked perfectly and immersed us in the “Kitchen of Youth Work”, an ideal environment for learning and creation.
Our adventure began on July 17th (Monday) with official opening of the first of four planned training modules. At the beginning, we were given valuable time to get to know the other participants and the trainers. The session continued with various creative ice breakers and team building games. We played, had fun and worked as a team while learning more about each other. The session ended with reflection and a self-assessment form. It give us a different perspective on the knowledge and skills we have in the youth work. During break hours we played board games together. This was a great way to get to know each other and socialize with the colleagues.
On the second day, we got acquainted with the concept of the multi-module training program, which aims to develop the capacity of youth workers from the National Network of Youth Centers. Throughout the day we discussed our intentions for learning and developing personal competencies in youth work. Through interactive, experiential practices and an informal approach to learning, the trainers presented the principles and values of youth work. One of the sessions included the similarities and differences between formal, non-formal and independent learning, and the role of youth workers and educational mediators in the education of young people. Of great importance was our meeting with Mariya Valova – Director of European External Programs Directorate and Mariya Teodorova – State expert, European External Programs at the Ministry of Education and Science. The meeting was in form of a story about the “big picture” of youth work, development programs and projects for young people. We had the opportunity to ask them questions and get accurate answers on topics relevant to youth activities. At the end of the day, we had time for self-reflection so we could rethink about what we had learned.
Day 3 “entwined” us in the network of youth work at the local, national and supranational level. The lecture session gave us a new insight into the multi-layered youth work and the huge network of interconnected institutions in which we operate. We continued with activities that helped us outline the meaning and place of youth work, its forms and content. The afternoon was set to show the work of the Bulgarian youth centers. The session included a Youth Expo Center – art installation of our activities We had the unique opportunity to get to know the work of the colleagues from all over Bulgaria. Also to exchange experience, ideas and valuable practices. We evaluated what we have achieved so far and what kind of activities we can focus on in the future.
On Thursday we read and listened to the stories of our international colleagues from the youth centers. What inspires them, how their day goes by and what challenges they face in their work. The next training session revealed more about youth spaces and what practices to use to reach new target groups of young people. We talked about the variety of roles and functions of the youth worker and what competencies we should possess and develop. We ended the day with a reflection. It gave us the opportunity to talk with the colleagues about what knowledge base and skills we have, and what we want to achieve to become better at our work. After the study sessions, we had a small task: to have fun at a karaoke party. Yet again we worked as a team – we sang our favorite songs together, danced and play fun challenges!
We dedicated Friday to the young people around us. We literally painted the images of the young people we actively work with, as well as those we have yet to reach. We mapped out our goals and talked about the strategies to successfully achieve them. As a finale, we reflected on what we had learned, what we need to work on more and what this adventure means to us. And before we set off on our way home, we looked with optimism to the future.
The first training module was a huge success! The approach of the training team was highly impactful, social and experiential. It helped us gain sustainable knowledge, skills and attitudes in youth work.