If you believe that the most addictive thing is sugar or heroin, you are wrong – it is Erasmus. I started to participate in Erasmus projects in 2017 and still cannot stop. For me, life is about people and I can not even count how many amazing, inspiring, and motivating people I met in my whole Erasmus experience, but let me tell you about the last one (Check Your Privilege) that I participated in.
To start with, weirdly enough, even though I participated in more than 10 youth exchanges and training courses, Check Your Privilege was my first one in Lithuania. I believe I was just caught up with the idea of traveling, so spending a week in my own country did not seem that exciting. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed being a “host” for all the foreigners. Some of the participants said that this was the most beautiful autumn that they have ever seen and I was like – yeah, that is true, Lithuania is stunning. I would say that is the first thing – it made me appreciate my own country even more.
Secondly, the activities were super engaging and interesting. It was exciting to hear the differences and similarities between the countries. Also, participate in the activity called “Privilege walk” in which we were able to empathize into different roles. We had a chance to understand how a single mother in a foreign country, refugee, or politician feels in society by taking a step to the sentences which applied to our role. I was really surprised to see how far behind some people were and how two people were in the front line from all the others. We discussed how we felt and surprisingly the majority of the people who were in the front also did not feel as good as being in the middle. In my point of view, there is something special in being part of the community and when you are far off everyone, it feels like you are left out too. In this youth exchange, I believe that everyone perceived like they have a voice and felt free to share it with the rest of the group. For this reason, we learned a lot not just from the activities, but also from each other.
In addition, another person who joined the youth exchange was an amazing person – Kaunas pride organizer Rokas Garliauskas. He talked about pride history and why we still need pride. In addition, reasons why in Lithuania pride is still more a protest than a celebration. Rokas honestly shared struggles and obstacles that the team had to overcome while organizing Kaunas pride and how it felt to see a united community with the same goal – equality to love and to be loved. We also had a great guest – Jonė Matilda Rimavičiūtė who volunteered in Tanzania. She presented volunteering as a tool to combat social exclusion. For me, it was a highly emotional story as she was describing how working with kids and local communities felt. Jonė said that this trip changed her life so much and right now she is saving every penny to come back and continue rebuilding schools, working in the hospitals and children’s centers.
In the end, I would say do not waste your time doubting yourself. If you have an opportunity to participate in the youth exchange or training course – go for it. It means you have a possibility to travel, learn new things and discover not just other people, but also yourself. That is a check of privilege (so use it for good 😉 )