“Good Energies 2020” – main focus of the coming year

Group young people Climate Change People Change projectSeptember brought a new start to “Good Energies 2020”, our Strategic EVS project funded by Erasmus+. This project will use the enthusiasm and skills of our EVS volunteers to contribute to our work in combating climate change, empowering young people to tackle climate change and to become climate leaders in their communities. This project will continue for two years and will be the main focus of our EVS volunteers until then.

As part of this project, we will be working with schools and communities, organising climate action projects and days, carrying out energy surveys in local towns, giving seminars and organising conferences. In our work with schools, we will be working with Eco-Unesco, who are engaged with the development of climate change modules for Transition Year students. Our work is ground-breaking and we will be very much focusing on non-formal learning in our methodologies.

Our first action is to organise a series of Climate Action days with Transition Year students in Mohill Community College. Our first day is on 23rd October and our EVS volunteers look forward to working with those young people.

 

 

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Climate Change – People Change? GEAI’s Youth Climate Action Week

From the 24th to 30th of July, Irish, Italian and Croatian young people between 18 and 24 years old travelled to Solta, a Croatian island near Split. For a week, they looked at their potential for leadership, focussing mainly on Climate Change and how young people can be inspired to take action.  They were 24 participants with nine accompanying leaders.

This project was a Strategic Partnership event, funded by EU Erasmus+.  The project has four partners – Good Energies Alliance Ireland (lead partner), DOOR (Croatian partner that organised the venue, promoter of sustainable energy development), Legambiente (Italian partner with the aim of making a new kind of development and diffused well-being through environmental culture) and Youth Work Ireland Galway (working with disadvantaged young people).

Legambiente’s website: http://international.legambiente.it/
DOOR’s website: http://door.hr/english/

The participants gathered in the Zelena akcija’s (Friends of the Earth Croatia) Solar Academy. It is a camp made from ex-military barracks and re-used as a place where young people from all over Europe can come and learn more about Climate Change and about practical ways to fight against it. The location is isolated, the water used for hygiene is filtered collected rainwater, the meals are vegetarian and the hot water is provided thanks to home-made solar panels (built in the camp itself). The young people got to experience an alternative way of life where they really had to pay attention to their water consumption and to the way they eat and it was actually an important part of the learning experience that took place on the island.

Video introducing the Solar Academy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZcVOJD7Ixg

Every day the participants and their leaders gathered and participated in various workshops facilitated by Brigitta Varadi, an international artist who organises and runs those kinds of leadership development events.

Brigitta Varadi’s website: http://brigittavaradi.squarespace.com/

The workshops facilitated participants to find, in an enjoyable and unique environment, the Climate Champions within themselves and to feel empowered to address the issues threatening our planet and their future. Thanks to several ice-breaking exercises, the participants felt comfortable with each other and it created a safe atmosphere for them to exchange their ideas about Climate Change and how to find solutions to the problems it brings. They got to challenge their own shyness and fears and to experience what it is like to work as group to create innovative ways to communicate about Climate Change. They learned and personally changed during this one week and it is the leaders’ belief that if people change, then they can bring positive changes in the world.

All of this happened in a beautiful but remote island, without modern facilities, that contributed to an atmosphere of cooperation, friendliness and laughs.  All the participants had an unforgettable and enjoyable week, with challenges for all but great learning as well.

By the beginning of the next school year, a website will be created to present all the details of this project and share its methodology and results so that anyone can benefit from it.

A weekend of adventure

EVS on-arrival training

From 1st – 4th December, the GEAI volunteers went to Dublin for their EVS on-arrival training, organised by Léargas. This training brings all EVS volunteers in Ireland together and gives them an opportunity to share learning and experiences and to have fun!

15369610_1808150142793664_1755525483_oAndrea, Kate, and Alex had a great time and connected with the other volunteers living in other parts of Ireland. It was a time to share experiences, learn about other cultures and their organisations. It was also a time to look back and reflect on the EVS experience so far. The three volunteers learned more about planning ahead, Youthpass and even received some advice on problem-solving!

One should not judge people based on stereotypes

Andrea found these four days a great opportunity to reflect on her own experience in a deeper way and to see things through the eyes of different people with different nationalities and cultures. She learned that one should not judge people based on stereotypes and that culture has a major influence in the way of thinking. She discovered that leaving her comfort zone can make her wiser! She met amazing people with whom she hopes to share trips and memories in a near future.

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“As well as the non formal  learning experience, we had so much fun discovering  Dublin with our colleagues and challenging ourselves through a funny race  game with different tasks, tasting traditional Irish food in The Brazen Head and getting to know our charming trainers”.

An injection of positive energy

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For Alex, this was an injection of positive energy as he feels a renovated momentum to face his next challenges within the workplace and on adaptation to Ireland. Alex really enjoyed meeting volunteers from other parts of Europe and even got to do a little language exchange.

“The Dublin challenge was a fantastic opportunity to get to get to know the city better and learn more about the Irish history and culture. The indoor activities were thrilling as well, and the whole training was coordinated by two very friendly and competent trainers. Having dinner in the oldest pub in Dublin was quite an experience for me!


Art and allegories

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Kate, our Belarusian volunteer, was the only participant from a non-EU country. For her, it was a really enjoyable time in an international atmosphere full of creativity and ideas. Speaking about difficulties, challenges, success, disappointments and life using art and allegories is really useful for her.

We did a great job discovering ourselves during  4 days. 21 brave people in the same place is something inspiring!

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NEW ARRIVALS

September brought changes at GEAI. The 3 volunteers who had been working with us for the past year, Irina, Santi and Olga, finished their time. So, we said good bye to them and welcomed their successors!

Two of the three volunteers arrived on Friday 4th September and went straight to work helping at a local community event. It was exciting to get to know the young locals attending the Junior Disco!

For this next year GEAI will host Alice Dumitrache, from Romania and Cédric Stanghellini, from France, two students undertaking voluntary work under the European Voluntary Service (EVS) scheme which is supported by the European ERASMUS+ program and administered in Ireland by Leargas.

Alice, 26 years old, studied geography, says of herself: “I come from Bucharest. I have already studied overseas but I have never been in Ireland. I’m so exciting with this new experience”.

Cédric is 24 years old, and he is a law student from Lyon in France. He says: “This is my first trip to another country. Everything is new for me and I already like the warmth of the Irish people”.

Both individuals are sensitive to environmental issues, which will perfectly fit with the project goal of GEAI.

 Olga share her EVS experience with Alice and Cédric


Olga shares her EVS experience with Alice and Cédric!

On Saturday Alice and Cédric were introduced to Irish cuisine. Aedin prepared typical Irish recipes for the arrival dinner. Fish with cheddar sauce, carrots, broccoli and, of course, mashed potatoes. Nothing was missing on the table, and this was just the start!

GEAI are expecting a third volunteer, Irakli, from Georgia, who will arrive at the end of the month.

GEAI is delighted to welcome all our volunteers!

GEAI will host new volunteers!

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Good Energies Alliance will continue to provide opportunities for young people from across Europe into 2016! Last month Léargas, the national agency said that they have approved our application to host three new volunteers from September 2015.

Since 2013 GEAI has hosted four volunteers from three different countries through the European Voluntary Service (EVS). EVS provides young Europeans with a unique chance to experience life and work in a foreign country through unpaid and full-time voluntary activities. In this way solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance are promoted among young people, contributing to reinforcing social cohesion in the EU and promoting young people’s active citizenship.

Léargas is the national agency managing the Erasmus+ program in Ireland jointly with the Higher Education Authority.

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