InterAction was a European Volunteering Project run by 7 international volunteers, Federico and Ottone from Italy, Judita and Klara from the Czech Republic, Steeven from Martinique and Zaida and Borja from Spain, for 10 months. The project was coordinated by YEU Cyprus (Youth for Exchange and Understanding) in Nicosia, Cyprus. The project was funded under the European Commission / Key Action 1 projects of the programme Erasmus+, which focuses on mobility through Youth Exchanges. The aim of Key Action 1 projects is to fund opportunities for young people to improve their skills, enhance their employability and increase their knowledge on other cultures.
The main goal of the project was to promote the inclusion of these young people to the society and help them find ways to use their energy in a creative way as an answer for the increased number of unemployment and frustration among young Cypriots that feel unproductive in a personal or societal level. Volunteers organised their own events and projects with the aim of having young people interacting with each other. This provided them with several organisational and entrepreneurship skills and through their interaction with various people from different backgrounds, with cultural awareness and understanding skills.
The project’s mission was to organise different leisure time as well as educational activities for young people, in order to help them find different creative ways to spend their free time. At the same time the project’s aim was to help young people learn some new things, such as speaking a new language, getting to know a new culture and also come nearer to their own traditions. They have organised activities that helped the Cypriot community to explore their identity and find ways to interact with others. The project involved young people from diverse cultural backgrounds and people with fewer opportunities and contributed in inspiring the local community and its members to become more active citizens, by organising different events and activities. The project also promoted volunteerism
and the European projects and enhanced our volunteers’ competences.
Volunteering projects are funded by the Erasmus+ scheme key Action 1, which is to enable all young people legally resident in Europe, aged between 18 and 30 years, to carry out an international volunteering service in an organisation or in a public body in Europe, Africa, Asia or South America for a period ranging from 2 to 12 months. Through this experience, young people get the opportunity to volunteer abroad, contribute with their efforts to a cause they believe in – be it, solidarity with refugees and migrants, work on environmental issues, activities for children or the elderly, support for non-governmental organisations, work for cultural events or a number of other topics. Volunteering projects are under Key Action 1, it is all about providing opportunities for individuals to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness, offer structured study, work experience, job shadowing, volunteering, training and teaching opportunities to staff and learners. The programme was managed by Youth for Exchange and Understanding Cyprus (YEU Cyprus) which is a full member of the Cyprus Youth Council and also a member of the Advisory Body of the Cyprus Youth Board, the semi-governmental organization responsible for youth issues in Cyprus. YEU Cyprus advocates on the rights of young people with regards to having a voice in the Cypriot society and beyond. Some of the related topics are human rights, the rights of minorities, racism, xenophobia, extremism etc. In addition, it organises and participates as a partner in various international and local activities and events. On an international level, YEU Cyprus organizes and delivers training courses, youth exchanges and EVS projects on different topics, focusing always on youth development, awareness raising and capacity building. The organization focuses also in empowering the voice of young people through Structured Dialogue aiming at policy making under the Erasmus+ and other programmes. The methodology of the activities is based on non-formal education and experiential learning.
During the program the volunteers had the opportunity to work with and for different communities of the island and organisations, which have contributed to the improvement of their competences under the Youthpass certificate, such as cultural awareness, social and civic competences, communication in foreign languages and in mother tongue, as well as digital competences. The volunteers had the chance to volunteer at Caritas Cyprus. They were dealing with people at risk, refugees, asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking. They were able to organize their own events and activities, for instance, create a mural in the bufferzone, “My Cypriot” radio show, Spanish, Italian language courses. Moreover they managed and planned their own artistic exhibitions, trips around Cyprus, language
cafes and attended Greek courses and several others. Organizing, managing and planning their own workshops and activities like sports tournaments, board games, art workshops, documentary nights and several others. All of the activities above mentioned helped them to understand social and local issues and the cultural reality of Cyprus and acquire experiences and skills that will help them in their future working goals.