Żgħażagħ Azzjoni Kattolika (ŻAK) members frequently organise or participate in youth exchange programmes. Last Sunday a group of 5 young people returned from an Erasmus+ funded project, titled Solidarity: Just a Word?! These are their experiences for that week.
“The week in Slovakia was a week I will never forget. Apart from the fact that I really enjoyed nature and the activities we had, I can say that I learnt a lot from the people I met. A 58-year-old man left the most impactful impression on me during that week. We went to visit a residence for the elderly and persons with disabilities. I had the opportunity to have a conversation with this person, where he described his life events and the reason why he is staying at this residence. He told me that at 28 he was electrocuted and due to this, he lost a lot of muscle mass in both his legs. He also mentioned an accident, which happened a year and a half ago whilst he was drunk, where he broke his leg and which also left his leg dislocated. Even though such events left a permanent mark on the rest of his life, he was still a cheerful person. We were also amazed at the fact that he removed his crutches, and stood up to join us in a game of volleyball. This man showed me that even though life can take unexpected turns, it is possible to see the positive side and find ways to keep ongoing. I was inspired by people I didn’t know and it is because of them that I saw things from a different perspective. Above all, it was an experience where I met new people, made new memories and learnt new things.” Nathaniel Pio Scicluna – 17 years, ŻAK Birkirkara
“It was a wonderful experience! During a youth exchange, you get the opportunity to meet new people from different countries, spend time with them and make new friendships. I learnt that solidarity is not only giving money or resources to other people. It means showing love and respect towards others, even those different to you. If I get the opportunity to apply for something similar again in the future, I would not hesitate to do so!” Myron Saliba – 15 years, ŻAK Ħal Tarxien
“I had fun during this youth exchange meeting young people from Estonia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovakia. The activities were interesting and required teamwork. I learnt that we all need each other and also learnt about other cultures and countries” Matthew Abela – 17 years, ŻAK Siġġiewi
“It was a wonderful week where I got to learn not only about the topic of solidarity but I also got to meet wonderful people from all around Europe. My favourite part of this week was to actually be able to experience solidarity in a practical way, like when we went to places to help those in need and being able to put a smile on their face left a great mark on me during this exchange. Hopefully, I will stay in touch with these wonderful people.” Chad Sehloho – 17 years, ŻAK Birkirkara
“This youth exchange was an unforgettable experience. Apart from learning the meaning of the word Solidarity, I had the opportunity to experience it by visiting the elderly and when we met a group of homeless persons. This way, I understood better the ways we can show solidarity during our daily lives and how small actions can leave a big impact on someone’s life. During the week I made a lot of new friends from different countries. The best part of the week was interacting with the elderly and playing games with them. I saw how much our presence made them happy and this inspired me to continue helping them. Without any doubt, I would definitely be interested in participating in another exchange because it was an experience where I learnt a lot. I encourage other young people to follow suit and take part in such activities!” Krista Fenech – 17 years, ŻAK Ħal Tarxien
“This was an experience I will not forget. We were a good group and everyone participated. We showed solidarity towards others without expecting anything in return. I will never forget the smile on the face of an elderly man who we went to visit. During the exchange, we had time to prepare gifts for them. I realised that these people only need someone to listen to them and respect and make them feel loved. I heard a lot of different stories and each story will remain in my heart. I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage more young people to help others, especially those socially excluded. Also, by joining a youth group, you get the opportunity to embark on such experiences that help you grow and learn new things about yourself.” Chantel Formosa, 22 years – Vice-President of ŻAK