“Story of my internship”

My name is Caterina de Giovanelli, and today is my last day of a four-month Erasmus + Traineeship at the YEN-Office in Berlin. What a journey it was!

I arrived in late August and immediately left after a few days for the EYC in Strasbourg, where I attended my first (mini) YEN seminar, “Story of My Life”, as a general rapporteur.  It was the first presential event after about a year and a half off, and we were very happy about it. Here, my job was to keep a record of everything in order to create a final report. Once back in the office, I followed Eva and Jakob with the post-seminar management.

Caterina started her internship in August 2021

Work in the office could vary from times when we were preparing or following up seminars, to others when we were thinking about how to plan them for the coming years. Another important part of my work was the revision of the applications. I was supporting the team in writing applications for funds both to the EYF of the Council of Europe and to the European Commission, and I got the chance to understand more how these processes work.

In September I had the chance to return to Strasbourg where I participate in the Study Session “Unrepresented Diplomats: European Minority Youth on Shrinking Civic Space, Political Participation and Freedom of Association” that took place at the EYCS between the 20th and the 25th of September in Strasbourg. It was organized in cooperation with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), European Free Alliance Youth (EFAy), and YEN.

Then between the end of October and the beginning of November, we went to Brittany, to Lorient, where the Autumn Seminar “Re-Writing Our Story” was held. It was great for me to be able to closely follow the seminar – which this time was far from mini – in its entirety, starting with the preparation and management of the participants, and then, again, the creation of final reports and follow-ups as general rapporteur. On this occasion, I took part in the General Assembly (GA) by managing its preparation and elections with their voting system. There, the election of the new Convenor for Member Integration of YEN, and the Vice-President for External Relations of YEN, was held.

Last but not least, in early December, we left for northern Germany, on the border with Denmark, for a study visit in Leck, at the Nordsee Akademie together with the Board and the office. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the Frisian minority and a space for debate and discussion for everyone.

All in all, this internship has been an amazing experience for me, not only from the professional perspective but especially from the human point of view.

It allowed me to learn more about the world of NGOs and how they work internally. I acquired skills in communication with stakeholders and the organization of international events, youth exchanges, both before, during, and after the event. It allowed me to get acquainted with European forms and to learn more about the various calls for proposals from different organizations (Council of Europe, European Commission) through which to apply for structural funds or funding for activities. I have strengthened my project management skills while reinforcing my reporting skills.

Moreover, I met people literally from all over the world; I got to know realities that I didn’t even know existed before, and I got to know more and more about minority, linguistic and cultural rights, starting debates and discovering new things every day. I met the fantastic members of the Board who welcomed me with open arms, the various trainers of the seminars in which I participated who enriched me with advice and anecdotes, the participants – young members of member organizations belonging to minorities – who allowed me to learn more and more every day.