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Building Community in a Lockdown Year

Careers in the Common Good and the Youth Week

Careers in the Common Good (CCG) was created out of a desire to contribute to a more open, innovative Eastern Europe. Our mission is to inspire the youth of Central and Eastern Europe to apply their passion for the enrichment of their communities: there are as many paths as there are people, and we seek to empower young adults to find the path that is right for them.

CCG, which has been working with Pro Progressione for many years, has created the so-called Youth Week program. The program’s workshops cover topics such as climate change, the food chain, responsible consumption, mindfulness, self-reflection, and the world of work in different sectors.

The idea of a Youth Week was sparked almost three years ago when Eszter (Eszter Boros, project coordinator and founder of CCG) took a gap year to travel. Since then, the world has turned upside down, but with a team of volunteers, we keep working toward our mission and continue to organise the Youth Week and many more events.

Now Eszter tells us about the experiences of Youth Week so far:

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Then and Now

When Careers in the Common Good ran our first Youth Week in 2019, it was an immersive, in-person experience, and we were eager to expand that—and then 2020 happened. Like so many others, we had to shift gears and decide relatively quickly what to do: hope that the situation would allow us to run in-person events later in the year? Cancel? Or move online? None of our team had extensive experience with online workshops—but we reached out to our network, kept moving and learnt along the way.

Expectation vs. Reality

We knew an online Youth Week would look different than it did in person: contingency planning for an online event has some crucial differences from planning for an in person event. We didn’t have to worry about it raining on our day hike…but we did have to worry about someone’s Internet cutting out or microphones not being up for the job. But we had new perks as well: we could recruit facilitators and participants from farther away, or who wouldn’t have been able to travel. Participants were also able to learn about, and from, each other in the context of their own homes; to turn their cameras on and show each other around.

Youth Week Webinars

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Life didn’t give us lemons, but it did give us 2020, and we were able to take our learnings from a successful—if last-minute—2020 online programme and build a whole roster of online events for 2021…events that we’ll be able to continue even as the world opens up again. So what did we learn?

  • Community can be built online. We’re thrilled to see our previous participants maintaining connections not just with us but with each other. 2020 was cancelled…but cross-cultural exchange was not.
  • Sometimes indirect translation is best. We couldn’t take ten packed days of in-person workshops and communal cooking and interaction and move the same programme online (our eyes, they would burn from screen overexposure). But we could take the same crucial content and use technology to twist it into a shape that worked online.
  • When there’s a will, there’s a way. By being agile and willing to learn on the fly, we’ve gotten to experiment with tools we’d never heard of before and meet dozens of new people.

Social Project 2021

Great Expectations

With the learnings from the last year, Youth Week 2021 is on, and we can’t wait! In addition to workshops on responsible consumerism, social entrepreneurship, the 21st century job market and more, participants will turn their ideas into action through a self-directed social project developed with expert guidance. Facilitators don’t just provide expertise but share the highs and lows of their own paths. Young adults from Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, and Serbia are encouraged to apply—and they’ll learn even more about each of those countries, and each other, through participant-led country nights, small groups and self-reflection. Whether online or offline (decision to be made in May, with participant safety as the top priority), expect ten days of an experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Applications are due 15 May and can be found—along with more information—here.

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