Erasmus+ TC: Combatting The Differences

‘‘Combating the Differences’’ was a great Erasmus+ training project and it was a once in a lifetime experience that we learned and enjoyed at the same time. It was placed in Kaunas, Lithuania on September 22 – 30. We were 24 participants from Turkey, Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus, Lithuania and Malta. From the first night, everyone was knitted up incredibly well. We thought that no one could imagine that we could turn into such a beautiful group of friends in such a short time. It was a super fun week for everyone from the moment we met each other. Our training project’s content was rich and full of beneficial activities such as ice-breaking, team-building, interactive session with a psychologist, inclusive games, the presentations that we prepared about movement therapy in national context, city game, Carribean dance, Thai Chi lesson, martial arts workshops and of course Capoeira training and Capoeira party !!! Thanks to cultural nights, we had the opportunity to discover new cultures and surprisingly to find similarities with every country in a sense. Every day, every moment of the project week, everyone was so motivated for the activities and sharing ideas about the differences and inclusive movements that can be done in life. Besides the physical activities that we kept our bodies awake all the time, we also shared a lot in the sense of the differences people may have by advantages and disadvantages in any aspects. We discussed how should the education systems be more inclusive for everyone and also how can we use sports especially Capoeria for inclusion purposes. We believed and tried to show Capoeira is not only a dance or martial art but also a mindset that brings everyone together and makes everyone feel a part of the group with music and dance. The favourite day of the program was Friday the day we visited ‘‘Special Olympics School’’ –which is a school for the mentally disadvantaged children– We were in 5 different groups with 5 different fun games prepared for them with Capoeira. It was the first experience for most of us, spending quality time with disadvantaged children. It was really challenging for children to accept us at the very beginning, to understand that we mean no harm but love. And it was really fascinating to see the smile of every child after we have broken the fragile barrier and started playing with them, showing some Capoeira movements and even dancing when it was difficult for them to repeat after us. We were thinking a lot about whether we should place an emphasis on the very topic of the project or on people we met or what this project taught us all?! We came up with a saying that, summarises everything- ‘No man is an island’. This phrase expresses the idea that human beings do badly when isolated from others and need to be part of a community in order to thrive. It applies both on disadvantaged children, people with special needs and the participants of the project themselves. The project mentors prepared us well for this last event: they taught us Capoeira, some inclusive games to be used there. However, all this helped us, the project participants, in the first place. People from 6 countries with different cultures, beliefs and values met each other for the first time and we, just like those kids, needed some interaction so that the following 8 days we don’t feel isolated. And we haven’t. All the ice-breaking, team-building and other inclusive games made a huge impact on us all. Together we were more creative, together we were working better and doing things faster. Together it is easier to combat the differences. Everyone deserves to be loved, to be happy. No one should be left an outsider. And best of all, knowing that a group of beautiful people can do such good work by giving everything from themselves shows there is always hope for the future. 

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