Youth Mobility Projects: YOAC in the European Policy Scenario
A project such as YOAC offers young people the opportunity to experience a tour of Europe in a different way than the trips generally organized for their age group. These specifically are almost always organized by the educational institutions in which they are enrolled, and for this they generally follow a model of learning through guided tours of places rich in world-renowned treasures and historical art heritages.
YOAC differs greatly from these types of extracurricular activities that still follow a “formal” form of learning, not only because of the extensive duration of the trip but also because of the characteristics and program on which this experience is based. YOAC’s goal was in fact to make the youths live a travel experience totally “immersed” in the realities they were visiting; making them discover the less touristy places and giving them the great opportunity to get in touch with the local reality and traditions. YOAC was configured as an “immersed” trip. Each stage and each activity enriched them and, as we can get by reading the comments reported, it constituted for them a kind of inner journey in the tour itself. Indeed, the goal of the project was to ensure that this experience could enrich not only their cultural background but also their person and perspectives in a broad sense: through interaction with each other, through the knowledge of new cultures and through different ways of thinking and behaving among their own.
They were given the opportunity:
- to know a European country like Italy, while discovering the stories and traditions it hides.
- to learn necessary life skills and skills that could enrich them;
- they were encouraged to intercultural dialogue with each other;
- to strengthen their feeling of belonging to the European Union;
- to understand the importance of cultivating sustainable travel patterns and to develop an ecological consciousness in general.
The European Union Youth Strategy 2019-2027 sets out a framework for European cooperation in the youth field, based on the Commission’s May 22, 2018, communication “Mobilizing, connecting and empowering young people.” The strategy encourages young people’s participation in democratic life, supports social and civic engagement, and aims to ensure that all young people have the resources they need to take part in society. The EU Youth Strategy also includes a process of dialogue with young people, and in this context 11 objectives for European youth were developed in 2018. These goals identify cross-cutting issues that impact the lives of young people. The Summer School and Caravan organized by the YOAC project has capitalized on the EU youth strategies while making them its mission and goals.
Indeed, the YOAC turns out to be in line with the DiscoverEU action for inclusion. DiscoverEU’s goal is to enable young people to take a short trip through Europe alone or in groups. The learning period includes planning, preparation, implementation before and during the trip, and follow-up after the trip.
The results produced and the comments reported by the young people are a testimony and proof of how important it is that Europe continues to invest in projects like YOAC and at the same time in policies like Discover EU. To invest in young people and in their future is more than ever a crucial way to build an increasingly inclusive and innovative Europe.
European and International Cooperation Expert of Instituto IKIGAI