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Roots and Borders Project 2021

The roots and borders project is an international youth exchange hosted in Krzyżowa, Poland. The exchange is focused on intercultural activities and discussion on topics and perspectives that are relevant internationally, such as our current personal identity and perspectives on our own heritage and how that applies today in Europe in 2021.  On the 19th of September 2021 6 members of Boys and Girls clubs of Wales traveled to Poland to take part in this exchange. 


Day one 19/09/2021

The first day of the Roots and Borders Project the members from boys and girls clubs of Wales  explored the grounds of Krzyżowa  and Visited  the memorial site dedicated to showing Poland's struggle  after the Second World War.  This gave the participants a new Avenue of learning as most of the participants were unaware of Poland's struggle after the end of the second world war due to the fact it became an Eastern Bloc state during the Cold War. 


Furthermore, this was also the day the other international groups participating arrived, therefore in the evening there was an introduction both to the group and the project programme.

Day Two 20/09/2021

The second day of the exchange began with an Icebreaker which then turned into an activity discussing the Expectations that the young people may have about this exchange as well as the Expectations they need to meet whilst participating within the project.  Following this a Walking Tour took the young people to sites of historical importance such as the house of the Kreisau circle and the Grave of Helmut James von Moltke (an important figurehead in this group). Further giving the young people information about Poland's history during the Second World War. 


Following this a team building game was then undertaken to help all the participants familiarise themselves with each other's names. In addition, an introduction to the restorative circle was then undertaken.  This evening was also very important because it was an intercultural evening, meaning that all of the international groups would present information about their home nation.  The young people from boys’ and girls’ clubs of Wales did this by initially first talking about Wales history and the origin of its flag.  The Welsh participants also then went into depth about the history of boys and girls clubs and how that developed through the 20th and 21st centuries. 


Day Three 21/09/21

Day three began with a workshop on personal identity which started to pick the brains of the young people and began to look at the key ideas of the roots and Borders Project.  These discussions that came from the young people from all different international backgrounds started to bring them closer together and started to break down perceptions that these young people had on each other, to say simply they began to look at each other as young people instead of groups of a different nationality. 


 Day Three also saw the first workshop photo and video which allows the participants from all groups the ability to express   thoughts, feelings and ideas through the creative means of photo video.  This freedom to create images and videos on their own began to produce work that was unique to each participant which at the same time allowed them to develop their own skills at photo video.


Day Four 22/09/21

On day Four for the young people began one of the most important workshops of the exchange, the workshop on migration.  the workshop on migration allows these young people to discuss their own personal heritage and begin to look at where they personally identify coming from in terms of a geographical perspective, from this it was unique to see that all of the participants had relatives or immediate family (including themselves) that we're from different countries and locations than the one they identified as being from.


Following another restorative circle, the young people then continued on their photo and video projects which would accumulate into a gallery presentation at the end of the exchange.

Day Five 23/09/21

The beginning of day five was  filled with excitement for the other people as it was the first day that they would  set out from the  centre in Krzyżowa to go to Wroclaw, a City not too far from where we were staying.  This part of the trip began with a guided tour and information on the rather unique history of Wroclaw, particularly it’s Catholic heritage as well as it's change in rule throughout the early centuries as well as a history lesson on the nose that can be located throughout the city. This was a unique time for the young people as it gave them a bit more independence and freedom to explore the city as they pleased.  For the participants at BGC Wales this meant roaming the city in a pack of electric scooters to see as much of the city as possible.


The evening of day five was also important because it furthered the development of friendship and relationships
between the participants due to nightly discos being started from this evening which allowed the young people to share their perspectives on music and dance, as well as to see which nation was the best at table tennis. 


Day Six 24/09/21

Day six was the final day in which the participants could work on the photo and video projects in preparation for the exhibition.  Following another disco in the evening of day six which once again allowed a bit more freedom to mingle and be around the other young people.

Day Seven 25/09/21

Play Seven was the day of the exhibition which the young people had been eagerly anticipating, because it gave them an opportunity to present their pieces which showed the thoughts and feelings that they had in regard to key topic ideas such as migration as well as other ideas such as identity.  It was clear to see that the pieces and projects that were put together by these young people were very personal and it was very clearly evident that the young people took massive amounts in Pride in the work that they produced for that exhibition. 


 Following the exhibition, the evaluation of the project was undertaken as a group.  The general feedback was that the trip was a plentiful and unique experience for all of the young people who were especially grateful for the team of leaders that organised and delivered the sessions, as well as being thankful to the leaders of the international groups who made the experience equally more enjoyable.  after discussion with some of the young people from boys and girls club, they would have liked the project to have more in terms of photo and video project work and to allow a greater freedom of choice when it comes to developing a photo video projects, as well as having more time in the city to spend with their peers and enjoy the day. 


 after the evaluation was completed a farewell party was prepared and participated by all the young people Who then began to exchange contact details as to keep in touch with each other,  this farewell party had a big effect on the young people has as the  people they have just shared meals and activities and evenings with  without going to be leaving for what seemed like the  foreseeable future,  which ( having experience personally)  is  quite upsetting  experience for the young people.  Nonetheless, the farewell party did not finish until the early hours of the morning too much would finally conclude the roots and borders exchange


Day Eight 26/09/21

Day Eight was a particularly uneventful day due to being filled with commuting from Krzyżowa  back to Wales.  The participants from BGC Wales We're understandably tired from the Travelling and therefore didn't have much to say until our landing at Bristol Airport. 


 Some key feelings to take from this exchange was that being the first international trip post COVID-19 had quite a large effect on this trip, as this was the first experience for quite some time in which young people from different countries got to meet and engage with each other. Having said that, the participants from BGC Wales conducted themselves in such a warm, fun, and overall Unique way and it was clear to see the impacts that they left on the young people from other groups as well as the impact that the other groups left on them.