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Blog: bridging the gap between students and community youth – the story of Fatbardh

10 May 2016

Blogpost CEAL of Fatbardh – youth participant of the CEAL-program in Muide, Belgium

“When I decided to participate in the Muide4Youth project, I was doubtful at first. What are we going to do? What will be the result of these two OASIS weekends? What will happen afterwards? Who are these students who will join in? I didn’t want to get my hopes to high, because I didn’t know what to expect, but I decided to just jump in and go for it.

On the first evening that we came together with the entire group we started with the ‘appreciative gaze’, a different way of looking at the things around you and discover sometimes small but beautiful things in the neighborhood. We had to team up two by two, one student and one youngster from the community. One got blindfolded, the other was the guide. Already from the start we had a lot of fun and a good laugh together. We discovered that it gave a really different perspective by using your other senses.

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After sharing our experiences we went further in the neighborhood to take pictures of the beautiful things we discovered. This was an important experience for me. The students were not familiar yet with the Muide, but even I discovered new things I had never noticed before, even while I’m living there for 10 years now, thinking I knew the place really well. There was a nice art work with colorful hands at the community center, and even a guitar school around the corner where I live. It was really nice to experience this together with the students.

Because of these games where we – from vzw JONG – were mixed with the students, we quickly became one group instead of two different ones. Because of the flow and vibe of the weekends the group became stronger. It didn’t feel like the students were just doing this for their grades, but because they were willing too, with a sincere motivation.

A really important moment for me was the Saturday night of the second weekend. That day everyone worked really hard on our shared dream to organize a movie night for the community; building a cosy corner, driving around to pick up stuff, cooking from food waste of the neighborhood, … After this intense and successful day – around 30 people from the community stopped by for our event – we decided to make a bonfire with our group to have a celebration. I felt part of this really nice group and had a strong proud feeling that we all did this together.

After the weekends it was difficult to maintain this common motivation. During the weekends of the OASIS game, the energy of the different participants fueled each other, but it is hard to maintain this dynamic without the intensity we had during the weekends. It feels good to have stepped outside my comfort zone and I hope that we can realize more projects for the community of the Muide in the future.”

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Images; Blind folding exercise during the Oasis Game in Muide and Fatbardh at the CEAL-gathering in Utrecht