Out in the Open was a 3-phases Training program for youth workers focused on improving the social inclusion and active participation of LGBT+ youth in society, by improving the competencies of youth workers in outdoor education.
Read below, what the Italian team of participants is sharing about their experience during the 1st phase of the program and its Training Course, which brought together 21 youth workers, youth leaders, educators, mentors, and NGO staff from 7 European countries.
During this project, my second Erasmus+ project, I had again a chance to tackle topics relating to the wide spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ community, a community which I am proud to belong to. It is relieving to state my pride, a pride that this project has certainly contributed to build up. Let alone the focus on sexuality and gender, this project has turned into an emotional journey that has made me understand what ‘informal education’ really is. If I had to give my personal interpretation of this, I would now say that it’s something I needed way earlier in my life and that doesn’t have less importance than formal education. If on one hand I’m happy I’ve been lucky enough to attend competitive schools and university across my study path, feeding my brain with culture, on the other hand projects like this really helped me feed my soul, which is more important. The idea of outdoor activities has been a bit confusing for me at the beginning.. how can sexuality, gender and self identity relate to this? By the end of the project the link became immediately clear: sometimes the members of our community can only see the forest from the inside, where is dark and the sun is often covered by the branches of the trees, life there can be threatening and some challenges can be enormous and really difficult to overcome without the help of others. However, something can change while you’re still in the forest: you acknowledge that you’re not alone and that a lot of people can be there, feeling lost and needing just as much help as you do to follow the light. Suddenly you realise that by sticking to these people challenges will be easier, you will understand that despite any difference, these people are exactly where you are, facing the same challenges. Mutual help and understanding will give you a leg up to get out of the forest where nothing seems so much challenging anymore and you can discover how pleasant it is to live in the sun light.
Though this project has taught me a lot about how to raise awareness and work with people who belong to the LGBTQIA+ spectrum; it has also taught me a lot about myself and helped me with personal development. The concept of the project, bringing outdoor activities and LGBTQIA+ activism together, bewildered me from the start but as I embarked on the programme I was amazed at how well the two could work in harmony to produce something so powerful and effective. It was nerve-wracking to put our knowledge and skills gained from training in action at a school in Riga. However, our activities proved a success and the youth in the school seemed to have gained more knowledge from our discussions on the topic. In fact, many were curious to learn more and this just proves the effectiveness of having more practical and ‘hands-on’ activities to talk about this topic.
Personally, I felt motivated and inspired by all the participants in the group. Everyone was determined to learn and share their knowledge and indeed, we all worked very well together. I think this project has inspired to be more vocal in my university LGBTQ+ community and to be more involved in projects similar to this.
My name is Cecilia, I am 21 years old and I come from Italy.
From 8 to 16 September I took part in the Out in the Open project in Rites, Latvia.
During the project I discovered new sides of myself and new notions about the LGBTQIA community that I didn’t know before, I did things I didn’t think I could do and in the end I felt fulfilled, a new person. I have known wonderful people that I will carry forever in my heart and I hope to see them again one day.
It was a magical and emotional journey of personal growth.
I think there should be more such projects for people of all ages who want to discover new notions about the LGBTQIA community and want to rediscover themselves.
Together we can work together to change the world a little better.Cecilia
Photography | Elina Primaka
The project was funded by the Erasmus+ programme, through the National Agency of Latvia, Jaunatnes starptautisko programmu aģentūra.