MYRIAM PUTZEYS, COORDINATOR FOR ERASMUS PLUS IN LUXEMBOURG TO INTERVIEW NADINE SCHINTGEN ON HER PARTICIPATION IN A SALTO TRAINING
Myriam Putzeys, Erasmus Plus coordinator
Why are SALTO training sessions so refreshing?
Nadine Schintgen, General Secretary of the European Association of Hotel and Tourism Schools (AEHT), participated in a SALTO training session.
What does the European Association of Hotel and Tourism Schools (AEHT) stand for?
It is a European Association of around 400 schools from 40 countries active in the field of hospitality and tourism.
What activities do you organize as part of the Erasmus + / Youth in action programme?
Since its foundation in 1988, the AEHT has organized seminars, competitions and exchanges and more recently Youth exchanges co-financed by the "Erasmus + / Youth in Action" programmes for all the schools within its membership network. In recent years, young people have participated with their teachers who came from countries as far apart as the Azores, Armenia, Russia, Sweden and Italy.
What are the goals of such exchanges?
Youngsters get an opportunity to meet with their peers from abroad and experience a certain ‘Unity in Diversity’. By this I mean that they get to know other mentalities and cultures, thereby widening their horizons, which prevents the emergence of racist feelings. One has a completely different opinion of a young person coming from e.g. Armenia when one has had the chance to meet him/her before on such an exchange, where one got acquainted with his/her culture and habits and organized something together with that person. The exchange also strives for the preservation of our gastronomic, cultural and historic heritage, which is of great importance in a world where standardization through globalization has become the rule.
During such an exchange, you can also develop your vocational and key competencies, improve your language skills, learn how to work in teams, set up a project from start to finish…. young people are always very enthusiastic about getting involved and are always looking forward to meeting new faces and customs.
Why did you participate in the SALTO training?
Since 2011 we have always submitted a Youth exchange project to the agency in Luxembourg, and the application has always been accepted and received grants from the Erasmus + / Youth in action programmes. In 2017, it was a big shock when our project was no longer selected! There followed a fundamental questioning and reassessment for all of those working for the AEHT network, and such a process may sometimes be very positive. We just wanted to understand why suddenly the project was no longer selected and what changes had to be made in our concept to meet the criteria of the EU programme again. This was the reason why I signed up for the training session on "Youth exchanges redesigned". The seminar took place in November 2017 at the Youth Hostel in Beaufort (Luxembourg), and was also attended by German and Austrian representatives of organizations whose remit is to organize youth exchanges.
How did the training session benefit your project?
Above all, we focused on the new criteria of the programme, and especially dealt with the question "What actually is intercultural learning?". We became more clearly aware of the different forms of learning, mainly formal learning, non formal learning and informal learning. We realized that we had to shift away from a too statistical or educational programme, and involve the younger generations to a greater extent in all the stages of the project from its preparation to its realization. The project should be build the other way around, starting with the learning outcomes and from there setting up the activities that help us to get there.
We plan to give young people more leeway for their personal development. We will encourage the different delegations to socialize more by mixing them during and outside the activities. This way, we hope to create more scope for innovation, creativity, new ideas and understanding of the differences of others. In the evening, an assessment session will be held to ‘take young people’s pulse’ and to carry out the necessary adjustments before it is too late. An intermediate evaluation with all stakeholders is also a very exciting moment, highlighting the various expectations and prospects.
During the SALTO seminar we discussed also a lot about the results/outcomes of Youth exchanges and how we may use them and how they may be disseminated.
What did it bring to you personally?
For me personally, it was a very exciting experience. It was a harmonious group of very interesting people who were extremely pleasant. They came from different fields (education, music, integration of foreigners,...) and though the age difference was often considerable, it did not really affect us. We jointly organized fictitious projects and the various participants came up with different approaches, methods and techniques, which gave us new impulses. We were working very intensively throughout these 5 days, but still found the time to get acquainted with each other on a personal level.
Would you recommend other people to participate in such a training session?
I would immediately participate again in such a training session however with another topic, as this one was exhaustively treated and the documentation we received afterwards was quite complete. It was stimulating and very enlightening for me. All the participants got involved with the help of excellent trainers and everyone felt equal. I have rarely felt so much at ease in a group even though people came from different professional, cultural, religious and social backgrounds. Even the generational difference was not perceptible and I went home with a lot of new refreshing ideas.
Thank you Nadine for the great feedback!
If you intend to participate in such a training session, please visit www.salto-youth.net ... the ERASMUS + programme covers everything except a contribution of 50 EUR per participant.