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Transformation & Personal Development          Designing Your Tomorrow

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iContribute

  /  iContribute

                  iContribute

  

First, we gathered two enthusiastic organizations that care for environment and young people, and who are committed to civic participation and activism.
Coming from two different countries, Croatia and Belgium, we sought an opportunity to develop and build partnerships accross borders.

Erasmus+ programme, with its Small Partnerships grants, tailored to new organisations seemed to be a good match.

We designed a project and applied. It worked!

What followed was a year of deepening our own expertise, reaching out and finding outgoing, daring and socially engaged young people who cared for the environment and sustainable travel, just like we did, and linking theory and practice for a week in a small town in Croatia. Yes, beach was involved : beach cleaning, to be precise 😉

WHAT IS THE PROJECT ABOUT?

The questions we explore on this project are personal and societal:

What are the benefits of travelling and tourism for young people? How do young travellers impact the environment and local people and habitats? What behaviour do you personally engage in when travelling? To what extent are young travellers ready to change their habits? What bothers you most when you travel or when tourists come to your place of living? Are you willing to have a worse standard of living to save the environment? How many tourists are too many? How can young people influence and change bad traveling practices?

We tackle these questions in several ways:

  • A 7-day long summer retreat for young people – in August 2022 in Šibenik, Croatia
  • Production of a sustainable video guide for young travellers
  • Q&A sessions with secondary school pupils in five high schools in Belgium and Croatia.

    OUR GOAL

 Empower young people to take action:

  • ASK questions,
  • BUILD a healthier, more sustainable relationship with the environment,
  • BE A FACTOR OF CHANGE: encourage others from your own generation to engage in environmentally-friendly travel practices and to come up with creative forms of civic activism.

Activities

A1. Training-for-trainers and exchange of expertise on environmental protection, sustainable tourism and youth activism

One learns for as long as one lives, an old saying goes. It is what we did in this part of our project. To expand the expertise of the trainers and mentors who work with our organizations, we invited guest lecturers – experts in environment, tourism and circular economy. We listened to and debated with young PhD experts on sustainable tourism and the environment-food juncture, as well as to experienced parcitioners who have both studied, and applied best practices in circular economy.

Next, we exchanged expertise and merged our knowledge in one holistic approach. We analyzed each others’ educational methods: debate, rhetoric, drama/presentation, creative thinking and analysis, transformational learning/emotional intelligence. We delved into the best practices from our previous work with young people, and in various fields: political science, drama diplomacy and life-coaching. We challenged each other and sought ideas and new ways to challenge young people to streamline their energy and knowledge so that they manage to initiate change.

We used our ideas and the experts’ insights to design the program for the empirical summer retreat on sustainable environment and tourism.

 

A2: Summer retreat for young people

A 7-day summer retreat in the town of Šibenik in Croatia : 12 volunteers (6 Belgians and 6 Croatians), 18-25 years of age … Well, it was great!

Hosted by a local University, our group had dedicated space and time to learn about sustainable development and environmentally friendly travel practices – and how they related to the needs and fears of the generation that cares so much about the planet.

The mornings were dedicated to conferences on the environment, sustainability, communication and debate, sustainable tourism, emotional intelligence and European policies – all in the context of the impact of tourism on the local environment.

In order to gather information and understand the tourism situation in the city of Šibenik, the young volunteers interviewed tourists and  locals: inhabitants, shopkeepers, restaurant owners, municipal workers, striving to build a picture as comprehensive as possible, and to see the environmental challenges of the local community from all perspectives.

They also did a beach clean-up in partnership with a Croatian local NGO. In only one hour, they collected 10 bags of waste.

At the beginning of the retreat, we had 12 young people getting together to talk environment and maybe hear a thing or two about Europe.
At the end of the week, we had a closely-knit team of iContributers, who could do more, who knew more and wanted to know even more.

 

A3: Production of a Sustainable Travel Video Guide for Young Travellers

After the summer retreat, the young people, each from their home country, engaged in intense hybrid work. During three months, they created a Sustainable Travel Guide in video format tailored for Young Travelers. They attempt to identify how their generation’s travel needs and practices impact the environment & host countries. Under the guidance of 2 youth trainers, both team in Belgium and Croatia created the guide through online group meetings.

They created 4 chapters based on the 4 topics selected :

1) Chapter 1 : How can I contribute to the local economy?
2) Chapter 2 : How can I Immerse myself and help the local community?
3) Chapter 3 : How can I minimize waste production and manage waste sustainably as a tourist?
4) Chapter 4 : How to move in the city in a responsible way?

 

A4: Multiplier events

The first months of 2023 were devoted to spreading the word about and challenging a fresh look at travel, with the means of our video Guide. In Belgium, the iContributers had the pleasure to present the project in three high schools.

They hosted us for discussion on environment. We viewed together our Sustainable Travel Video Guide for youth. It served as a basis for a discussion on  environmentally-friendly travelling practices, as discovered and formulated by its creators.

The high-school pupils learned about sustainable travel and development, and were able to use immediately the video guide, as it was already available online (if curious, see the links above). It was a mutually enriching experience: both the iContributers and the high school students benefited from the exchange. We hope we planted some seeds for future constructive civic engagement in environmental protection and climate change.

A special touch on our side: we offered packs with flower seeds to the iContributers-to-be. See the photos: someone will be planting seeds – of flowers and activism!

Special thanks to l’Athénée Royale de Woluwe-Saint-Lambert in Brussels, l’institut LA VERTU also in Brussels and l’Institut Virgo Sapiens in Flanders – for hosting us, for watching, for debating! It was such a pleasure to meet you! Let’s wish each other many happy returns!

   

 

A5: Transnational Project Team Meetings

The invisible part of our work : the project management, the planning, the organization, the hours of drafting and re-drafting our information materials, and more hours – for phone conversations, emailing, posting on social media, then emailing again … visiting venues, negotiating conditions and prices, booking tickets, worrying that we will miss the plane, the bus, the street, the deadline … and yet it all worked out.

We achieved our purpose: we entered a new field, environment and tourism, young people from two countries discovered the challenges and the beauty of a new local community, and each other – and two new organizations got an international partner for a long time ahead.

 

A5.1 start-up meeting: Took place on 2 May 2022.

 

A5.2 Interim meeting: Took place on 7 October 2022.

 

A5.3 Final meeting: Took place on 20 April 2023. 

 
The iContribute project is financed by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission, and will takes place from May 2022 to May 2023. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained herein.