Is it possible! The Erasmus+ youth project called ’Changemaker’ has done it. The individual development process mainly focused on the prevention of burnout and maintaining motivation – according to the participants’ needs. The project involved eight international partners working together to improve 21st century skills, to increase the quality of youth work and to promote young people's social engagement and entrepreneurial skills. We talked to Viktória Csákány, co-chairwoman of ‘Egyesek’ Youth Association, professional head of the quality award winning programme, about the
Self-coaching for youth workers – in a group context
Project title: Changemaker- self coaching for youth workers and young social activists
Institution: ‘Egyesek’ Youth Association
Coordinator: Viktória Csákány
Your two courses achieved their goals through particularly effective methodology. What do you consider the greatest strength of the method?
Through experiential learning, and a coaching and self-coaching approach, we basically created the context with the methodology. We consciously transferred tools to enable professionals working with youth to perform self-examination and self-reflection, and therefore to work more effectively with the young people they can directly reach. The content was added to the course elements by the participants themselves, through their learning processes. The first step of the methodology was to set the learning goals individually.
Had you worked formerly with this method or can we regard these two courses as some pilot test?
‘Egyesek’ Youth Association has used it in each youth programme for 15 years, so, at an organisational level, we feel that the Quality Award is, in fact, the fruit of these 15 years' work, the top of which was the Changemaker project.
The Quality Award may also indicate that you managed to meet a great challenge successfully; the high number of participants, the wide age range, their professional backgrounds and experiences suggest different individual learning goals. How was it possible to support all these goals effectively during the 10-day courses?
Our programme was also customised, based on a questionnaire on learning goals, which the participants completed before the courses. At the courses, we could support the individual process by establishing processing groups, functioning as a kind of anchor, where the students could also share their learning processes in a small circle. Each group involved one more experienced international member who facilitated these day-closing discussions. Of course, the two trainers were also available for individual consultations throughout the courses.
Was it due to the great demand that you implemented two courses within a project?
Yes, partly, and partly also because the youth professionals belonged basically to two groups, based on their years of service and experience. Therefore, the course held in April targeted those 33 professionals who were already threatened by burnout. Many of them have done and achieved so much that, as a natural and understandable human response, a "no one can tell me anything new" attitude appeared, and many of them began to give up self-reflection when using well-established – and, in many cases, quite well-functioning – work methods. We encouraged them to revise their visions and missions so they can get back their motivation and willingness to ask themselves the relevant and fundamental questions. In the case of the 37 participants of the July group, we needed to work with less experienced youth professionals. In their case, there was no risk of burnout, so we could focus their learning goals on keeping up their motivation in the long term.
Several applying organisations in the youth field make the mistake of using the certificate simply as some proof of participation, instead of the Youthpass process, which raises awareness of and addresses non-formal learning outcomes. Changemaker is also special in that respect: the focus on learning outcomes provides the backbone of the activities. Would you tell us more about it?
When the participants set their individual learning goals at the very beginning of the course, this already happens according to the key competencies specified by the certificate. It can be a great challenge for anyone to assign an actual learning curve to achieving the targeted outcomes, regardless of how experienced a youth worker is. Very often, it begins with an intangible "balloon", and when it comes to breaking it down to discrete elements, the key competency definitions of Youthpass come in very handy. Besides these, we also gave participants detailed clarification questions, so that by responding to them they can see how certain elements they had learnt contributed to it and by developing which competency.
More about key competencies:www.youthpass.eu
The two courses were hosted by a special village, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Why did ‘Egyeseknek’ Youth Association, as a Budapest-based organisation, choose that particular village?
The location has, by now, become part of our history. Officially, 'Egyeseknek’ Youth Association was registered 18 years ago, but at that time the founders had already been informally running the organisation for two years, so it today would be regarded as an adult even in the US. It was then that our former colleagues found a house in Hollókő which was suitable in every aspect. They implemented more and more events there, until it came to a point where practically all of our projects were hosted by this picturesque village.
The Erasmus+ programme allows young people to apply without an organisational background, as so-called ’informal groups’. The group must include at least four young people between the ages of 13-30. In exceptional cases, and when all the young people are minors, the group can be represented by an adult, and they can apply with the assistance of a youth helper or a coach.
I can imagine that the bustling international life you brought with you may have been strange for such a small village first. Has that changed by now?
The residents are well aware of the organisation and its peculiar programmes; they know that we are the team which, from time to time, “brings” foreign-speaking young people to the village. We have also organised several-day volunteering activities as part of the courses, where the young people got involved in the everyday life of the village. In fact, we have developed a very important interrelationship not only with Hollókő, but also other local communities in the neighbourhood, which currently provides the basis for our local youth work.
Tempus Public Foundation / Erasmus+ Youth team
With 74 participants from 8 international partners, the project was implemented at high standards. The professional programme was based on needs assessment, which ensured a focus on the real problems during the activities. The project consists of varied, diverse programme elements and uses creative methods based on engagement, and therefore it ensures participants a high level of learning process, while also relying on the expertise of the partners. It offers great potentials in terms of future partnerships.
Last modified: 16-04-2019