Die Europäische Janusz Korczak Akademie ist ein Partner der Jewish Agency for Israel.

37 participants, 17 communities, 20 languages

Report on the first YouthBridge-seminar
When a new big project is launched, in which 35 young people participate, who live in the same city, but mostly don't know each other, what is the most important thing to do? Right, to introduce them and let them make friends!

For this difficult task, the European Academy Janusz Korczak, the organizer of the project YouthBridge Munich (the German partner of the flagship project YouthBridge New York), had only three days.

It was decided for these three days to pull the guys out of their everyday habitat and do the utmost to get them to know as much as possible not only about those with whom they'll have to learn and create a lot of interesting things over the next year and a half, but also learn a little more about themselves. Understand why they need this project, and what their place in it is.

For the seminar of acquaintance, the Women's Island in the Bavarian Chiemsee was chosen. Why? Firstly, because it's beautiful. Secondly, it's very individual, and thirdly, you cannot escape from there. Only if you want to swim away ;). This, of course, is a joke, but the compactness of the island, in an unusual three-day program full of surprises, will play its role.

There was one more thing: on the island, in the ancient building (built in the 8th century) of the female Benedictine monastery, the abbess, the sister Scholastica, an absolutely amazing woman, was waiting for us: a very well educated, real businesswoman (a part of the monastery building that is rented for a hotel has a tourist occupancy of 87% during the whole year!) and at the same time a very sociable and sincere person. And that's exactly the reason why it was an even bigger pleasure to hear from sister Scholastica, during her appeal to the participants of the project on the first evening, that she dreamed for more than 10 years that such a project would start within these walls!

And then the events developed very rapidly. Already on the very first evening, the participants of the project actively got to know each other during different games under the guidance of the wonderful theater teacher and producer Anastasia Komerlokh. It was dynamic, creative and veeeery funny! Going to sleep in the cozy ex-cells of the monastery, we all had the feeling that we had already known each other for a very long time.

And in the morning a big surprise awaited all of us - a quest designed by the same unquenchable Anastasia. When Anastasia gave the exact instructions of the quest to the project leaders, who performed the roles of those who puzzled the riddles and gave tasks, they could not believe that those tasks could be solved at all. Or, in any case, that they could be solved in the 3 hours that were planned for this quest! For example: try to find the "financial inspector Dr. Lugner" (this role was brilliantly managed by the representative of the company "Allianz", the partner of the project YouthBridge), who was hiding somewhere on the island and was ready to give the necessary clue, but only if someone from the team pulls out a red M&M dragee from a closed pouch. But since he was "Dr. Lugner", which means "Dr. Liar" in German, there was no red candy in sight, only two blue ones, and so the team had to guess what to do about it, and how to outwit the treacherous financial inspector...

The goal of all these mysteries, puzzles, physical exercises and other activities was to collect parts of the construction, from which each of the three teams had to build a bridge in the end of the quest. The team with the first completely finished bridge is the winner team.

In general, the theme of "building bridges" was like a red thread through all these three days. This is understandable: this project was conceived for the sake of creating bridges between representatives of different cultures and religions, in the name of building mutual understanding and mutual support between people from different countries of origin. To give the young participants the necessary knowledge and "tools" with which they can work actively with representatives of different communities of the Bavarian capital and to form leaders at the end of the project- one of the most important goals of the project.

This goal was subordinated to the seminar "Know Yourself", conducted by Vladislav Yachtchenko, the founder of the "Argumentorik-Akademie". Here is what he said at the end of the seminar to the journalist of the Bavarian radio Yulia Smilga (who illumines our project from the very beginning, for which we are very grateful) about the content of the seminar and how it went:

«The path to self-knowledge goes through the big questions of philosophy: Who am I? What goals do I have? How important is success for me? What makes me unique? - And as a lecturer I was curious how the young participants of YouthBridge would answer these difficult questions.

It was a great surprise for me, that all of them were able to deliver a 2-3 minute speech almost on the fly - without a note! So I want to give a big compliment to YouthBridge! They did what many adults wouldn't manage!»

Games for acquaintance and group dynamic, the quest, the "Know Yourself" seminar ... The task of the YouthBridge project managers and organizers of the launch seminar at the Chiemsee was, among other things, to give the young participants the understanding and feeling about all the components for the upcoming educational process, which will consist of seminars (theoretical as well as practical), meetings with famous people in the city of Munich (politicians, sportsmen, religious leaders, etc.) within the framework of "conversations by the fireplace".

One of the most important components of the educational program YouthBridge is the project work. And, of course a lot of attention was given to the project work throughout our three-day island seminar. Depending on the interests of the participants, which they revealed in the first conversation in EJKA, it was decided to invite them to develop three different projects: a social, a cultural and a media project. The first discussion in the three groups was very stormy, it was a real brainstorming: which projects can be implemented in these three areas, what is interesting for the youth in Munich, what benefits can our projects bring to the city?

All the ideas were emotionally discussed, carefully recorded, and then exhibited at the general court. The best ideas will be realized throughout the project, their first results will be presented already at the summer festival in July 2018.

The main result of the first three months of the existence of the project in Munich: there are many of us (we have 37 great participants from 17 different communities and religions and together we speak over 20 languages!), we are active, creative, we are so different, and we are already a team - YouthBridge Munich!
                                                           Olga Kotlytska,
                                                                            Sofiya Pavlenko (18)