The transformative power of Art

Kristina Ivancheva
June 28, 2023
Kristina Ivancheva
June 28, 2023
Kristina Ivancheva was recently selected to participate in a training program, funded by the Erasmus+ program. It included three participants from each of the following seven countries: Portugal, Lithuania, Albania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Spain, and Austria. All participants had formal or informal experience with young people, such as teachers, youth workers, social workers, or volunteers. In the end, all participants received the “YOUTHPASS” European certificate for official recognition. Read about her impressions below.

 

Reselience  performanceNestled in Austria’s northern alpine region lies Klaffer am Hochficht, a haven of serenity embraced by quiet forests, untamed nature, and charming lakes. This idyllic setting provides an ideal setting for those seeking comfort and undisturbed focus. While Klaffer appeals to a diverse range of individuals, it recently hosted a training course of young participants, including me. Our purpose was to engage in thought-provoking discussions on social issues, delve into aesthetic research, and broaden our horizons.

Facilitating this transformative experience was Wolfgang Rohm, a sociologist, social psychologist, and theater pedagogue with extensive experience in seminar and training course management within the context of Erasmus+. He serves as a lecturer at the Universities of Education in the Province of Upper Austria, the Diocese of Linz, and the Landes Styria. Wolfgang has successfully planned and implemented numerous intercultural projects involving children, youth, and youth workers. Through his unique approach, he encouraged us, the participants, to tap into our creative potential and work harmoniously towards a shared goal.

The daily workshops started with open discussions centered around topics related to working with young people. These thought-provoking conversations served as a foundation for the following group activities, where the concept of aesthetic research took center stage. Each group was entrusted with conducting our own research, exploring innovative solutions to already assigned problems, and expressing our findings through artistic creations. Klaffer, with its rich nature, became an endless reservoir of inspiration, fostering the birth of numerous projects filled with original ideas.

Through different performances, installation art projects and an actual theater play everyone was able to deliver a certain message to the society addressing main problems like domestic violence, migration and discrimination. The training aimed to extend the reach of arts-based research beyond arts-pedagogy and scientific work. By utilizing artistic methods, it enhanced key competences such as social communication, understanding complex relations, and intercultural skills. We gained theoretical and practical knowledge to apply arts-based research in our work with young people, fostering personal growth and reporting project outcomes.

The workshops included artistic techniques that were aimed to deepen learning on emotional and physical levels, increasing the quality of work with children and young people. The training itself developed art-based research methods and had strengthen personal expression, communication skills, and understanding of different behavioral patterns and life plans.

The freedom to express oneself through paints, nature, poetry, and performances formed the cornerstone of this experience. This unrestricted mode of expression served in shaping profound connections among the participants, leading to a remarkable bond that deepened further on the second day, fostering a sense of empathy and understanding. During our leisure time, we engaged in activities such as canoeing, sports, and swimming, which not only provided a refreshing break but also played a vital role in nurturing a sense of belonging and community. These shared experiences brought up a stronger bond among the individuals, creating a safe and inclusive environment where everyone felt accepted and integrated. The collective engagement in these activities further set the feeling of togetherness, creating a sense of unity and a shared sense of purpose.

Nevertheless, the diverse nationalities of the participants provided an opportunity for cultural exchange and the sharing of valuable cultural knowledge. Through engaging in activities such as international dinners, exchanging knowledge, and continuous language teaching, everyone had the chance to deepen their understanding of each other’s cultures. These interactions not only brought the group closer together but also sparked a curiosity and interest in exploring each other’s countries firsthand. It is highly likely that some participants will visit each other in the coming

months, eager to experience different cultures from a firsthand perspective, further strengthening the bonds formed during the program.

The project was experience where friendships and memories were created. It was a time filled with campfire gatherings and heartfelt emotions.  Countless conversations held during this project delved into profound topics, leaving a lasting impact on each participant. The unforgettable week was a powerful reminder that kindness and goodness are among the greatest talents one can possess. It ignited a fire within me to create, write, and explore without being hindered by the constraints of the world around me. The project continues to resonate in my heart, igniting a rapid heartbeat and a sense of excitement. If I could describe this week with one sentence it would definetly be: A project that made me curious about the world again…

Kristina Ivancheva ……. or referred by some Spanish people as “Kristinita”.

For more information about the project, please visit: http://www.seiklejad.org/uploads/1/2/5/6/12565704/infopack_arts_connecting_-_arts_based_youth_work_2023.pdf