Thanks to ANKA Youth Association, I had the opportunity to do a training course in Clermont-Ferrand, France, in July 2021. I am an experienced Erasmus person, that is, an “Erasmus Dinosaur”, as Gabriel, the trainer of the course, names it. 😊 I have taken part in many Erasmus events, and to tell the truth, this association is by far the most professional one I have ever seen. From the very moment I was informed that I was selected as a participant till the end of the project, everything was so well-organized. Although ANKA Youth is a newly established association, they have acted quite professionally. They assisted the participants when choosing the plane tickets, planning on the itinerary, and even deciding where to have the Covid-19 tests. Therefore, I never felt disoriented throughout the project.
From April 2019 to the start of his project, I didn’t have any chance to participate in any Erasmus projects. Last year, I was going to take part in another project in London. However, it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Therefore, I was so eager to attend this course as it had been a long time since I did so. However, to be honest, at the same time, I was freaking out as there were still Covid-19 cases. I had my first vaccine dose and got my PCR test done. Then I flew to France. In the very same plane, there was another Turkish participant, Pelin. We went to Clermont-Ferrand together. Gilles Ervard Essuman, who is the president of RESOPA and the manager of the project, welcomed us very warmly. Then we went to our rooms to have some rest. I was impressed by the fact that we had a single room with ensuite facilities. Until this project, I had always shared a room with other participants during the previous Erasmus events. I think this was the best place that could be offered under the pandemic conditions. As an “Erasmus dinosaur”, I know it is not that easy for a project manager to provide such a room for each participant. For this reason, I thank Gilles very much for this great accommodation facility, as it made me feel relieved under the pandemic conditions.
As for the training course, it was so informative because it presented many terms that I was not familiar with and enlightened me with the practices implemented in various European countries. Throughout the course, I had the opportunity to observe the trainer of the course, Gabriel Brezoiu, who had a great sense of humor and employed a wide range of non-formal education methods. Although there were participants with language barriers, he successfully dealt with it as he knows several European languages.
Also, he collaborated with Jade Andrzejewski, who presented us with some factual information about rural entrepreneurship and development and youth participation in the rural areas of Europe and France and prepared a toolkit resulting from the project. Jade got connected to the sessions digitally, through which I was able to observe how digital platforms can be used in Erasmus projects.
In addition to these, we had the opportunity to do a study visit to Gerzat, a small town near Clermont-Ferrand. During this visit, we saw a bio-farm and listened to the manager of this farm about the practices implemented there.
I am a member of a food network here in Turkey, and the farmers try to use agricultural practices like the ones in Gerzat. Now, I am going to share the best practices I have learnt about and my observations with the other members of this network, which I believe will inspire them a lot.
On our way back to Clermont-Ferrand, Gilles took us to a beautiful lake called “Lac d’Aydat”.
Moreover, I had the chance to meet lovely participants from various European countries and work with North Macedonians and Estonians for the very first time in my life. In fact, the course was a melting pot of cultures and languages.
During the intercultural night, we had the opportunity to serve the Turkish treats to the other participants and taste the ones from the other countries. I believe as Turkish participants, Pelin, Gizem and I represented our country very well.
Additionally, Gilles, the organizer of the project, took us to three different restaurants, which I believe represented the multicultural atmosphere of France, so we had the chance to taste the Senegalese, Italian and French cuisines. They were all tasty. 😊
Last not but not least, we had the opportunity to hike to the top of Puy de Dôme, a dormant volcano near Clermont-Ferrand.
Although it was hard to make it to the top, which took around two hours, it was such an unforgettable experience for me since it was worth enjoying the magnificent views of the surrounding area.
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Begüm, the founder of ANKA Youth Association, and Melike, who assisted us very well throughout the project, for offering me the chance to attend this course.