From 19th to 26st of August, 42 young people from Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Denmark, Lithuania and Spain participated in the Erasmus+ Youth Exchange “Under Pressure” which took place in the Europahaus in Neumarkt in der Steiermark, Austria. According to the topic “Under Pressure” participants were reflecting on which routines in their everyday life caused pressure – their social media accounts and digital devices in general or some other kind of pressure. For five days, the participants and facilitators gave up on digital devices, the internet and social media and discovered how it would affect their well-being, their social connections, and their creativity. The process was facilitated with non-formal education methods and accompanied by reflection both in big and small groups as well as individually.

The activities were built to support the participant’s connection with themselves, others, and nature such as the silent walk to “Schloss Lind”, meeting somebody non-verbally through eye-contact, a workshop about senses and mediation, writing letters to themselves or a comfort zone workshop. Furthermore, participants were encouraged to discuss topics like their use of digital devices, personal growth and how to connect with others on a profound level. Participants could express their creativity by designing their personal tote-bags or creating a huge drawing in a shared painting session. Moreover, the participants learned about the Youthpass, it’s eight key competences and the certificate’s value as a tool for self-reflection as well as for proving the non- and informal learning progress. The participants proved their knowledge about the Erasmus+ program in the Erasmus+ pub quiz. To promote the cultural exchange between the participants, a “Diversity Evening” was organized where participants could present their countries in a creative way – that was especially challenging since no one was using the internet, computers, digital music, or projectors! After the five days have passed it was time to integrate the digital devices, internet, and social media. Therefore, it was brainstormed how the use of those could be more constructive in the future and a buddy support system was created.

The results of the project and general information about the Erasmus+ program will be shared by Follow-up Events in all the participating countries. It is up to the participants to show what they have learned and spread the idea behind “Under Pressure” with their peers and local communities. We are sure that their creativity knows no borders and will keep you updated on the events that they will organize!

In order to get a more authentic perspective listen to what some of our participants have to say:

During this wonderful week I learned a lot about myself through self-reflection and contact with many young Europeans. Among other things, what I take with me to this day, two months later, is that I tear my attention less often, that I let myself be distracted less by my cell phone, that I can focus more on my surroundings, people and topics that directly concern me. Thanks to the dedicated organizers of JEF Styria who made this week so well possible.” – Wendelin

The workshops and the contact with people from different countries helped me to expand my comfort zone. Being without a cell phone was unusual, but through the newly gained time and reflection I was able to learn new things about myself and how to deal with fellow human beings, make international friends and even rediscover forgotten hobbies. Because of this and because of the great organization, the time at Forchtenstein Castle was unforgettable for me and I take countless positive experiences with me.” – Paul

In this one magical week in Neumarkt, we laughed, danced, were silent, sang, cried, breathed deeply, made friends. But most of all, we embarked on a new experience and left our comfort zones. What remains are a lot of „jam jar moments“, friends all over Europe and a new awareness for the here and now.” – Laura

This project was cofunded by the European Union, Alps-Adriatic-Alliance, Land Steiermark – Gesundheit, Pflege, Sport und Gesellschaft sowie Land Kärnten – Jugendreferat.

Von der Europäischen Union finanziert. Die geäußerten Ansichten und Meinungen entsprechen jedoch ausschließlich denen der Autorin oder des Autors bzw. der Autorinnen oder Autoren und spiegeln nicht zwingend die der Europäischen Union oder der OeAD-GmbH wider. Weder die Europäische Union noch die OeAD-GmbH können dafür verantwortlich gemacht werden.