Youth Exchange: until next time
Andrew from Helm Training in Dundee has just returned from an inspiring youth exchange to Berlin organised by YouthLink Scotland and UK German Connections. This was part two of the exchange after young people from Germany visited Edinburgh earlier this year. Find out how it went in this blog by Andrew.
Heavy-hearted, yet hopeful, inspired and fulfilled - the aftermath of the youth exchange.
When months of planning and facilitating culminate in the execution of a successful exchange, the aftermath can be, well... bittersweet.
Across two cities, 60 people of varying ages and nationalities collaborated to create bonds based on commonalities that will now, and in future, continue to create opportunities, experiences and memories for young people in our local communities. It is now up to the young people and youth group leaders to ensure the legacy of this is everything it has the potential to be.
As we look to move forward, we can do so steadily on the firm foundation set for us by UK-German Connection and YouthLink Scotland who are paving the way for collaborative experience and youth work practice to be shared internationally, for the benefit of our young people.
Very substantial steps have been taken as Scottish and German groups use their mutual connections to plan further exchanges, contemplating the intended aims, benefits and logistics of this. And the outcome of this is extremely exciting! As a result, Scottish and German groups are continuing to enable further exchanges and ensure they can benefit, inform and inspire (potentially) thousands of young people across Scotland and Germany.
From this perspective, the initial Scottish-German exchange was a wholehearted success, as groups of young people and youth leaders utilise the tools given to them to forge a path leading to the future.
From another (very personal) perspective, the aftermath of the youth exchange - despite all its success - is tinged with sadness.
Across two occasions, in two cities, two nationalities represented across 20 groups, 60 people - relationships are naturally built. Beyond the purpose of youth exchange, away from the conviviality of professional courtesy, genuine, sincere and heartfelt relationships are built; relationships that are forged, or strengthened, or tested and renewed ever the stronger. This, indiscriminately, applies to young people and youth leaders alike; we are all blessed by the human condition of attachment. And are enriched by this.
With every euphoric start to an exchange comes the heart-wrenching end. The excitement of hellos and the sadness of goodbyes. But where we begin to apply the true spirit of exchanges, sustainable relationships and international collaborations, our endings will always lead to new beginnings. Our full stops become commas. Our farewells become until next times.
Where we continue to walk the path we forge, hand-in-hand with our partners, there will always be a next time. And as we continue on, we remove barriers of language, nationality and political climates and grow our relationships unconditionally, in the interest of our young people, and continue to promote the power of the exchange.
So I finish this reflection as I started, heavy-heartedly, yet hopeful, inspired and fulfilled. There will be a future youth exchange for Helm Training, so whilst we prepare for what’s to come it’s simply a matter of...
Until next time,