28 July, 2021

You are invited to read the account of Katja Petrovič, a participant of the youth exchange in Águeda, Portugal.

“From 12 to 17 July 2021, a project on social exclusion and discrimination of refugees, migrants and ethnic minorities was carried out in the colourful city of Águeda, Portugal. We took part in the Slovenian version of the project as part of the Slovenian organisation Epeka. Our team consisted of five members of different ages, from different parts of Slovenia. Our diversity made us complement each other, which made the experience all the more enlightening and interesting. We were accommodated in a 4* hotel. We had a timetable or schedule of activities for each day, mostly taking place in the hotel, as well as in the surrounding school and outdoors. The first day of the project was very relaxed as it started with activities through which we got to know the members of the other countries better. The following days were dedicated to country presentations and games organised by the national teams. The memory games were particularly challenging. In addition to our team, five teams from Portugal, Poland, Italy, Spain, Romania and Greece took part in the project. Each team was made up of around six to seven members. In a very short time, despite our numbers and diversity, we got to know each other well.

Each country presented an issue related to the main theme. At the end of each presentation, the issues were discussed. We discussed solutions that would be best for all. We came up with a number of useful and interesting solutions. Through the activities prepared for us by the project volunteers, we were transformed into people without basic opportunities and human rights that should be equally accessible and available to all people. The examples presented from the everyday lives of socially excluded groups left us speechless and on the verge of tears, and encouraged us to think and talk more about this topic. We specifically discussed the Roma in Portugal, where they are particularly neglected. We had the opportunity to get to know their culture better, as they, as representatives of Portugal, presented it to us through socialising, music and dance.

On the last day of the exchange, the project volunteers prepared certificates for us at the end of the project and a video of the impressions they had gathered throughout the week. At the end of the day, we had a gala dinner at the hotel and socialised with the famous Portuguese wine. We also had a cultural evening where we enjoyed traditional dishes from each country.

Despite the busy schedule, we had plenty of time to socialise and get to know each other. Especially in the evening, we enjoyed good drinks and music, which brought us together in a very short time. It will certainly be a lasting memory, an enlightening experience and new friendships forged.”