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ESC project in Poland - Planning of a festival in Rabka

They say all good things come in threes. That is why I ended my gap year with a third European Solidarity Corps volunteer project. But this project differed from the previous ones, because we were about 30 volunteers from Spain, Greece, the Czech Republic, France and Germany. We all lived together in an old hotel in a small town called Rabka near Krakow. There we planned a youth festival for young people in Rabka. As Rabka is a city with a lot of children, our aim was to show these young people that there are also offers for them that give them a perspective in the small town and inform and inspire them about a wide range of topics. This project is an ESC team, which means that you belong to a group of 30 volunteers and support the project for a maximum period of 59 days. So we were in Poland for about 6 weeks and we can experience as many of these ESC teams as we want.

During the first week, we participated in workshops on topics such as non-formal education or the development of an escape room. Afterwards, we collected ideas that echo the needs of the young people, such as workshops on sexual education or sustainability. Then we divided ourselves into groups according to our interests. I was part of the Sustainability Group and the Mental Health Group. Then it was time to develop the events. In the sustainability group, we developed an Escape Room in which participants from 2050 had to travel back to the past and the time we live in today and find sustainable solutions to save the future. In the mental health group, we organised a human library, which means we found people from our team who wanted to talk about sensitive issues such as depression or eating disorders. Participants were then able to book a book for a certain period of time to learn more about the subject.

The festival took place in the last week. Unfortunately, we didn’t have as many Polish participants as the project happened for the first time, we should have done more advertising and we realised the festival during the pandemic. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun because we were able to attend the events of the other volunteers instead.

All in all, it was a very intense experience that made me mature personally. We had a wonderful group dynamic and were able to discuss everything from sustainability to open relationships, but without attacking or hurting each other. You had to reflect on your own opinion over and over again and get involved with all the other characters without prejudice. I also learned many skills, such as how to develop an escape room. And the best part is that I have met incredibly great people from all over Europe who I can visit and who showed me what it means to have a European identity.

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