What is a youth exchange?
Youth exchanges are intercultural learning experiences that bring together groups of young people from different countries to explore a common theme, to share their knowledge and improve their competences through activities such as workshops, discussions, reflections, simulations, outdoor activities, assignments, games, excursions and other activities that are also intended to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and awareness of different socio-cultural realities.
Who can participate?
All the youngsters regularly living in Italy with an age between 13 and 30 years can take part in the youth exchanges . Each project is addressed at a specific target group of participants. The group leader has a role of coordination and support of the participants coming from his country before, during and after the experience; the leaders are often involved in the Team responsible of the coordination the exchange; for this role there are no age limits.
How long do they last?
A youth exchange co-funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus Plus program usually lasts from a week to 10 days, but can reach up to a maximum of 21 days of activity. These projects often count on a participants' preparation phase before the departure and on follow-up activities aimed to consolidate the acquired competences and/or to disseminate them in the participants' place of origin.
Where do they take place?
Most of the projects take place in the European Union member countries or in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Norway, Iceland, Macedonia, Liechtenstein. Projects begin with the pre-exchange preparation of the participants' made by the sending organizations in the countries of origin, they continue with the exchange that is realized almost always in the country where the coordinating association is based, in an accommodation building where also most of the activities are developed and often they end in the home countries of the participants through the development of post-exchange activities.
Who organizes them?
Youth exchanges involve 4 main actors.
Participants: they are an active and fundamental element of the projects because they are at the same time receivers of the program and those who through an active participation create an impact in its development.
The organizing associations: these are associations that agree to work for a common goal to be achieved through the implementation of the project. They differ in promoter association (the one responsible for the coordination and management of the project and the one which take responsibility towards the entity that provided the funds; usually the promoter association host the exchange in its country) and partner associations (those who promote the project in their country, choose and prepare the participants, send them to the exchange together with a group leader and organize the dissemination of the project results and the follow-up activities in their local area). The project is jointly organized by all the associations involved: they delineate purposes, implementation and program, they choose the target of the participants, they coordinate the practical and logistical issues and the communication, they ensure the visibility and the dissemination of the results in their local realities, they organize and coordinate the preparatory activities as well as the ones which happen after the experience abroad; they request and administrate the funds to implement the projects and they take care of the bureaucratic and administrative aspects.
Local partners: They are public and private bodies or individuals who cooperate in different phases of the project with the associations involved: they can provide support for the visibility in the local areas, for logistics issues related to the program and for the dissemination of results.
European Commission: through European programs such as Erasmus Plus (European Program for Education, Training, Youth and Sport), the European Commission is co-financing these projects. The funds are granted by the program's National Agencies, in Italy Agenzia Nazionale per i Giovani.
These projects are supported by European funds that partially cover the expenses. Those funds provide a reimbursement for the travel cost that changes depending on the project and a budget for accommodation, meals, materials and other expenses related to the implementation of the activities. The organizing associations are allowed to ask for an economical contribution from the participants to cover other kind of expenses.