“This camp was the best experience of my life”

An experience shared probably not only by professionals working in Roma settlements is that getting such a concrete feedback from a teenager happens only in rare moments of grace. However, our youth exchange program supported by Erasmus+, which took place at the end of April 2019, had innumerable such moments in store for us.

We had been preparing the five-day-long exchange since June 2018 together with two partners: Asociatia Organizatia Caritas a Diecezei Satu Mare from Romania and Association for better life from Slovakia.

Our program, called Haj tu sar bushes? – And what is your name?, was designed according to the concept of Erasmus+ youth exchanges. It had the aim of bringing together young people (14-25 years of age) who live apart but share many experiences, who are in an age of great curiosity and formation but are often immobile. We planned a rich program for the approx. thirty participants: making videos, experiential pedagogy, sports, music and dance, sightseeing were all included.

Anyone who ever participated in a program for children organized by BAGázs would know that the completion of as much as half of the planned activities already counts as a success. Never in my many years of experience had I met a group that would do everything, take part in every activity we offer them.

The young people gathered in Felsőtárkány, near Eger, however, did not even settle for the maximum. They worked and came to a consensus considering the form and content of the multilingual videos they produced in six small groups (you can watch them here). They cooked three dinners (and made some cookies as well!); they played for three afternoons (and even organized a short excursion!). On the fourth day, they played music and danced together in Budapest, in front of St Stephen’s Basilica (and they did the same just for fun many times, by the bonfire, in the corridors before going to bed and in breaks).

There is something even much more important though: topping the expectations of Erasmus+ programs (getting to know each other, dialogue, mobility) by far the participants became – quote from themselves – a “family”.

The abstract reality of the application form has been brought alive by their almost surreal enthusiasm, openness and kindness. They created the real ‘product’ of the youth exchange out of themselves: a new community and one of a kind at that. In this community, we speak many languages and we don’t care if the other doesn’t understand every single word (because the point would be got anyway). We laugh a lot but it is allowed to keep quiet. We value each other’s efforts but we can also treat our weaknesses with a sense of humour. This community is real and alive even if some of its members will never see each other again. Because when one of them writes he will “never forget it” and a dozen others confirm his words, we all know that it is not an exaggeration. Such an experience can become a source of strength for life. And not only for the teenagers.

I would like to thank participants of Haj tu sar bushes? with the attached video that they showed me: what I believe in, what I work for but what I tend to forget amidst the challenges of everyday life exists for real. We can truly become one gang.

And if it happens in small, there’s hope it can happen in big as well.

A beszámolót Lőrincz Borcsa írta, a tábor megvalósulását pedig az Erasmus+ támogatta.