In the beginning of July 2018 Aleksandra (Sasha) ZavjaIova joined the YEN-Office as an intern supported by the Erasmus+ Traineeship Programme.

Her job focused on supporting a particular activity of YEN, which took place in late August – the Diversity Festival organised by YEN and its Member Organisation FYK – Jongereinferiening Frysk Ynternasjonaal (Western Frisians). The 7-day long Festival took place in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands, homeland of the Western Frisians, one of the officially state-recognised minorities, as well as host of European Cultural Capital of 2018, Ljouwert. Most of her time, Sasha spent however in Berlin, where the office of YEN is located.

Below you will find a short summary of Sasha’s experience and some of her impressions:

“It was a wonderful experience to be a part of the small but busy and high-achieving team at YEN for three months. I felt welcome, encouraged to contribute and use my previous knowledge and creativity continually throughout the internship. I had an opportunity to truly add value to the event by both assisting with practical tasks before, during, and after the event, as well as by contributing on conceptual and evaluation levels.

I certainly benefitted from part-taking in the process of the planning and running of the Festival. It was fantastic to learn from the YEN board members and the partner organisations about their dynamic methods of involving young people who often have less opportunities in their homelands because of their minority background. It was also fascinating to increase my awareness of non-formal education methods, and training programmes which work cross-culturally and across different languages. These were some of the key issues around which the Festival evolved.

Apart from this, and probably most importantly, throughout my time at YEN I gained insight into significant cultural and political issues within Europe: the representation and preservation of minority rights and culture. Just to name one inspiring figure, I was astonished to discover that almost 100 million people are members of ethnic or national minorities in the EU, that’s every 7th European! Myself coming from minority background, it made me feel much stronger connected with that wider community on a personal level. At the same time, learning about minority rights, and being a part of the team which empowers minority youth to make their voices heard, made it an extremely engaging and meaningful experience for me.

I would recommend anyone who has an opportunity to undertake a traineeship via Erasmus+ with an organisation whose work you find interesting and inspiring. It makes for a purposeful time contributing both to your studies, as well as to your future career. And it enriches you as a person!”.

If you are interested in getting to know YEN behind the scenes, contact us at office@yeni.org and ask about the internship possibility in 2019. We are looking forward to hearing from you!