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“This will be a life-changing training!”

From 16 to 24 October 2018 I attended the Training of Facilitators (ToF) of Erasmus+ Youth as a trainer of Ljubljana Pride Pool of Trainers. The training had the support of the Slovene Erasmus+ agency MOVIT and was organized by Programa Erasmus+ Juventude em Ação (Erasmus+ Youth in Action Programme Juventude, Portugal).

25 trainers, youth workers and facilitators from 15 EU countries attended the training in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Portugal.

Since the two previous editions were successful and well received, this was the third edition of this ToF, mainly focusing on learning about facilitation, getting to know and make sense of its own goals, objectives and methods, as well as aiming at personal and professional growth of the participants, all in intense 8 days.

The programme was designed to have a continuous stream of facilitated practical activities, each focusing on a different step of the facilitation process: ideas and design, planning, communication, identification of the problem, goals, objectives, task distribution, implementation, planning of next steps and evaluation of the process, basically a bit of inception here, since we were learning about facilitation within a process itself facilitated.

The work was organised in sets and was completely process oriented. From the introductory theoretical reflections, we gradually started to learn about the methodology and planning by doing it, and finally coming to implementing a facilitated session for the group, testing our approaches, methods, ideas and knowledge.

Keywords for all the activities would be: practical implementation, learning by doing and non-formal education methods. Many theoretical materials were at hand to support this process, as well as observational learning, since the trainers facilitated every single session, giving the participants the chance to see the methods put to practice by professionals with years long experience.

Safe space was crucial, since the agreement was that constructive criticism and feedback to our work between participants could be given at any time, so there could be continuous adaptation and improvements on personal and group level. The group itself was super motivated, what further enhanced the learning process, creating many emotional moments that opened up space for personal sharing, free flow and exchange of ideas, as well as deep professional reflections about the field of facilitation.

Out of many trainings and seminars I attended in the past, this is surely the one where everything learnt and experienced was useful and meaningful. I want to end with a quote of one of the participants, using the words that she shared with me just as we parted at the airport: “You, know, Lovro, I have to tell you I did not have high expectations about this training, I mean I have been working with youth and within the Erasmus for almost 10 years. Surely, now I am full of impressions, with so much new knowledge yet to be organized and made sense of in my head, maybe also a bit emotional – but I can say without a doubt this training will be a life-changing experience for me.”

I could not add anything more, just agree. Or perhaps I could add an invitation for everyone working with facilitation and implementing activities for groups of young people: if this training course ever comes up again in the future, do not miss it.