The idea of a youth exchange came from the Youth Council of Sodankylä. The councilmembers and the Youth Services of Sodankylä promoted their idea and were able to gather a group of enthusiastic youngsters. They were brought together by common interests in getting to know new people, cultures and habits around the world. The youngsters wanted to develop their language skills and gain confidence to communicate in foreign languages. New experiences and memories, growing as a person and becoming independent, and seeing the world were some of the desires of the group from the very beginning.
Social media and its role in everyday life stood out in the conversations the group had. Basing on the conversations the objective of the project became into its form: “How does social media affect the identity and self-esteem of a young adult?.” During the exchange we found out how to use social media and the internet safely, and how to take advantage of it.
The partner organisation was Portuguese Move. T+ – association. The entire project includes 16 young people from Sodankylä, Finland and 8 youngsters from Guimarães, Portugal, who are 23-28-year-olds. The members of Portuguese group go to local Youth House, with whom Move. T+ collaborates. Most of the participants are students, but involves also a few who have completed their studies and will begin to pursue their professional careers.
The seven day project was hold as a Erasmus+ Youth Exchange in Guimarães, Portugal in October 2017. The participants learned about social media through interactive workshops, surveys, teamwork and with the help of each other. They had a chance to try how it would be to live without social media for one day. With the help of active tasks the young people did examine social media from different point-of-views, taking into account its challenges and possibilities.
During the project the youngsters found out what kind of an impact social media has on young person’s identity or does it in the end. In addition they did examine their personal relationship to social media. The participants learned to know and acknowledge the value of equality. The project gave tools to become more independent, they learned new aspects of themselves and their self-esteem did strengthen. They learned how to execute a large project and at the same time, they gained confidence to start their own projects in the future.
This is the first time for Sodankylä Youth Workers to organize and to be involved in such international programme. With the help of the project, Sodankylä Youth Workers are able to integrate internationality in their activities. The project will have an impact on the local communitues, both in Sodankylä and Guimarães, for the participants told about their new experiences and knowledge, i.e. setting up a photo exhibition at a public library and giving a presentation at school after the project. Thus they increase awareness of the local people about the project topics and other cultures.