"Innovation and Creativity"—Odessa, Ukraine
INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY IN COMMUNITY ACTIONS
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The idea and results from the project
The Youth Project “Innovation and Creativity in Community Action” was mainly focused on joint activities among young people, representing four European countries- the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia. The idea, hidden behind the various activities was to encourage young people to think creatively and innovatively in conformity with the theme and title of the project. It was also aimed at allowing young people to develop innovative thinking for tackling the problems and executing the tasks they were given contrary to standard and antiquated ways of finding solutions to issues that are at stake.
Another basic concept of the European Commission Youth in Action Programme, accomplished in Odessa, Ukraine, was to stimulate students and young people to master the skills of problem-solving, project management, implementation and evaluation by using the tools of informal learning as a more effective and productive one. The authors of the activities believed that through engaging in games and alternative and unofficial ways of conducting discussions over serious issues, young people would be able to learn much more about the cultures, represented at the Forum and have an enjoyable interaction with one another at the same time.
The goal of the project was also to instill in young people’s minds knowledge about the different cultures, represented at the Forum, to deliver information about social and communal issues relevant in each of the participating states. The objective for achieving this goal consisted of an exemplary activity, called World Café and it proved to be a successful one due to its use of alternative methods for providing information on cases, such as gender equality in everyone’s home country, access to education for young people, youth participation in the community, support for the disabled and the disadvantaged as well as the government measures, undertaken in each of the represented countries to deal with these issues. This part of the program, in particular, appealed to most of the participants and it invoked a continuous discussion within the group members even after the activity was completed. In addition to this, it was evaluated as particularly educational and enriching.
Other useful aspects of the Youth Project in Ukraine were the project management training and project ideas brainstorming which stimulated participants to think of project ideas and outline the steps for their implementation. This not only strengthened the team and created a warm and enjoyable working atmosphere, but also was extremely useful for the students in terms of the project development skills which they mastered and which they could later use in all aspects of life- professional, academic, etc.
The idea behind the latter activities was to encourage team work and improve young people’s abilities to work within a team, under the pressure of meeting certain deadlines and also to teach them how to compromise with a view of reaching a final decision. By executing the aforementioned activities we all learnt to demonstrate more tolerance towards each other and mutual understanding of the cultural differences and language barriers. Through these joint actions almost all the participants managed to build friendly relations with one another and to successfully adjust to their team members’ personalities and working manners. With the means of the informal learning tools, such as the games, energizers, open discussions and the cultural evenings, the interaction between the participants was facilitated and their sense of European citizenship - enhanced. We all found similar things about each other despite the differences in the culture each of us represented and succeeded in uniting these similarities so as to work for the benefit of the Youth project.
Therefore, the project was such a success and achieved its main idea, namely to bring young people from various countries together and encourage them to learn more about each other and each other’s cultures, as well as to stimulate them to work cooperatively and in a creative manner. And we all drew the conclusion that Innovation and Creativity is all about being tolerant to the others, open to and receptive of their points of view, willing to work within a team and demonstrating patience- patience to what everyone has or needs to say and upon all this- taking a joint decision. Because it was mutual tolerance and understanding that mapped out the process through which all creative and innovative suggestions were born and it is for that reason why the Ukrainian Project produced such successful results.