Seminar on Youth Mobility for multipliers from martyrer communities in Greece

Elisson gUG cooperated successfully in the seminar STEP IN with Filoxenia, Intercultural-Environmental Organisation (Kryoneri Korinthias-Greece) and Polisis (Berlin-Germany). The seminar has been supported by the “German-Greek Funds for the Future”. The seminar consists of two units: The first has been implemented in Kryoneri (12-15 November 2015) and the second in Lechovo Florinas in North-western Greece (17-20 December 2015).

The NGO Filoxenia has great experience in youth exchange and volunteering programs, strengthening local civil society and bringing together people from Europe and around the world. Kryoneri, a picturesque village in Northern Peloponnese is home to the NGO, which exists since 1995. After Filoxenia’s invitation in a study visit concerning Martyr Communities, organized by the German Foreign Office in December 2014 in Berlin and consecutive various meetings with representatives from Martyr Communities, Filoxenia decided to respond to the communities’ request and to offer the named seminar. For this cause Filoxenia planned the seminar, secured financing and compiled a seminar conduction group of three people with different backgrounds, to offer maximal insights and experience from around Europe.

The seminar has been tailored for multipliers from Martyr Communities of Greece.

… what are Martyr Communities?

Martyr Communities in Greece are places and communities of suffering, sites that have suffered greatly from Wehrmacht atrocities during the Occupation of Greece in WWII.

PART I: Step-in in Kryoneri – The first step towards youth exchanges for Martyr Communities in Greece

12-15 November 2015

The first unit focuses on the basics of a youth exchange project. How to organize an exchange, how to find resources to support the project, which priorities have to be set and what aims can be brought forward for a youth exchange program. Apart from the basics the seminar emphasizes on team-building activities, games and ways to bring young people together. The experiential character of the seminar allows the participants to experience ways of team-building and to discuss how those activities can be used in their communities. What has been especially challenging for Filoxenia’s Team is the age range of the group that ranged from 19 to 60 years-old participants. However, this barrier has been easily overcome.

The first part of the seminar  involved: enlivened learning through team-building activities, basics on youth-exchange, basics on financing exchange programs, as well as visits to local sites that function as attraction points for locals and foreigners. For a wholesome experience of a youth exchange the group came in contact with local people and products and has had an insight into different structures that strengthen the local society and local economy.

Part II: Step-in in Lechovo – the step towards European Youth Voluntary Service in Martyr Communities of Greece

17-20 December 2015

Part II of the seminar took place in Lechovo Florinas in North-western Greece, EVS (European Voluntary Service) and the German voluntary service programme FSJ/FÖJ have been the topics of this seminar.

The introduction focused on team building games and went on with a group discussion in order to analyse the expectations of the participants. Following the discourse, the participants had an intensive introduction into the basics of EVS. Questions arose and heated debates took place. “How can small societies deal with strangers? How do we overcome language barriers? What happens if a volunteer faces various challenges?” The issues were many and had to be extensively analysed.

The seminar focused on the complete organization of an EVS programme. From the practical question of entering the EVS database and applying for a PIC number, the issues of financing, receiving and accommodating volunteers over the planning of a volunteer programme and the activities involved, to the conception of a self made voluntary plan for their own communities. The range was broad and the seminar aimed at enabling the participants to create their own EVS programs for their own communities.

The methods used in the seminar varied greatly. Experiential games and group activities were combined with real case scenarios and case studies, while frontal teaching methods were followed by group discussions and team-work exercises. The use of multimedia in form of video and web interfaces was also applied. Visits to the local museum, the local church, as well as the visits to neighbouring Martyr Communities enriched the program and facilitated a better understanding of the history of the area of West Macedonia in Greece.

The second part of the seminar involved: enlivened learning through team-building activities, introduction to European Voluntary Service, deepening knowledge on EVS and case studies. The participants had time to develop their own plans for EVS in their communities and debated possibilities with the whole team.

The experience in Lechovo was special because it took place in a Martyr Community. In addition, the seminar group visited another two Martyr Places, the village Mesovouno and the village Kleissoura. Both suffered greatly during the Nazi Occupation of Greece. This experience was and is paramount for the whole group as the participants belong to such communities and appreciate the connection with places that have suffered similarly to their own.

New ideas for future cooperation in the field of youth in Martyr communities in Greece have been developed. Finally, all participants welcomed the idea of a common web presence for Martyr communities. This way, Martyr communities of Greece would have an online presence, where they can network with each other and with other institutions/persons that are interested in Martyr communities and will be able to present their concerns world wide.

The Trainers Team

Mrs Hana Sebestova, ΜΑ Arts teacher / Youth Worker / Council of Europe’s Human Rights Educator (Κryoneri Korinthias) is currently living in Corinth Greece and has studied Fine Arts & Music in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Hana has lived in multiple European countries and has conducted various international youth exchange programmes over the last years.

Mr Panos Poulos, Dipl.-Pol., Youth Advisor, Project’s coordinator (Κryoneri Korinthias & Berlin) found back to his place of origin after studying in Berlin (Germany) to become a political scientist. He gained his first youth work experiences in Germany, returned to Greece during the end of 90’s and is a founding member of Filoxenia. In 2014 he founded in Berlin the non-profit company Elisson gUG . Panos accommodates over 25 years of youth work experience.

Mr Charalampos – Babis – Karpouchtsis MA.-Pol. (, Political Consultant (Berlin) is a Greek political scientist based in Berlin, Germany. Originally from Thessaloniki, Babis has lived in Greece, Germany and the UK and has been working as a group trainer and seminar conductor with a focus on Greek and German politics for the last three years.

An Intercultural North-South Connection