International success for the Chrisdimen Foundation’s Erasmus+ cultural meeting
Young high school students from Hungary and Transylvania met in a youth exchange program: with the support of ERASMUS+, the youth exchange meeting focusing on minorities, cultures, and sustainable development was conducted at multiple venues in the Szeged area by the organizers: the christian founded CHRISDIMEN Foundation.
A successful cultural meeting that lasted a week took place in the Szeged-area, where young people from Hungary and northern Transylvania in Romania participated together. In the 20-person meeting, high school-aged youths listened to lectures in truly ‘European’ conditions on the themes of minorities, environmental sustainability, and cultural diversity. The professional lectures were followed by group workshops, where young people from different types of residences, all in some way disadvantaged, could share their thoughts on the personal aspects of these ‘big topics.’
The topics of the discussions were fixed: the meeting was a result of a project applied for by Romanian and Hungarian organizations within the ERASMUS+ program, organized by the Saint Jude Thaddeus Association and the Christian-founded Chrisdimen Foundation. Besides the rigorous professional work, there was also room for movement, recreation, and fun: the young people could engage in sports and relax at the nearby Algyő baths, fortunately coinciding with the hottest days. The young people from northern Transylvania came from the regions of Maramureș and Lăpuș Valley, nearly all living in small settlements, many in difficult financial circumstances. Among the Hungarian young people, some came from Balassagyarmat, while others were from Hódmezővásárhely, Újszentiván, and Tiszasziget, ‘crossing over’ to the center in Algyő.
The cultural programs included sightseeing in Szeged and a visit to Ópusztaszer. As a result of a special collaboration, at the Újszentiván Szekérszín Civil Center, several civil organizations: a Roma association from Balassagyarmat, the local family association, and the Foundation for the Armed Forces Exhibition House organized a ‘civil day’ where the youths could engage in sports and relax, and also participate in a special culinary production.
Father Csaba Gyenes’s Guinness record-holding pancake-making team presented a spectacular dessert-making show: volunteers made nearly 600 pancakes in four hours with 18 pans for the meeting participants and joining civilians. Beyond the gastronomic experience, the teenagers gained impressive insights into the values of volunteerism, civil work, and cooperation. Although Hungarian was the common language, significant cultural distances characterized the backgrounds of the disadvantaged youths from different environments, yet we were assured that serious, professional programs, as well as lighter events, helped in finding a common voice. We were pleased to see that lifelong friendships and connections could form among the teens – summarized Mónika Ulbert, the professional leader of the program, who also represented the spirit of local volunteerism as the president of the Újszentiván Families Association at the civil program.
At the closing event, as part of the strict ERASMUS protocol for recording individual progress, the youths received a ‘diploma’ ensuring their entry into the ERASMUS+ universe, as a result of successfully completing the professional tasks. Both participants and organizers are hopeful: another successful application next year may enable the ‘meeting between cultures’ of new friendships.
The identifier of the realized program: ERASMUS+ 2020-3-HU01-KA105-093743