Participating in the Erasmus Project: my journey and beyond
February 19, 2024

Participating in the Erasmus Project: my journey and beyond

Author: Mehdi Aflaki, Azerbaijani YEA

As a university student and Young European Ambassador, my passion for making positive change and meaningful impact within the community has led me to take advantage of Erasmus+ opportunities. This is how my remarkable journey of learning, teaching, and change-making began.

New connections, invaluable insights, an adventure in the heart of Europe, and much more… In short, taking part in the Erasmus+ project at the end of last year was an incredible experience I will remember for the rest of my life. It not only contributes to personal development superficially, but also fundamentally, by widening our viewpoint, developing soft skills, and learning how to find my way out of tough circumstances.

This is the story of my unforgettable nine-day Erasmus+ experience in Berlin, Germany, which may inspire you to apply and embark on a life-changing experience. This programme, called ‘Let’s Combat Fake News’, was organised by the German NGO European Progressive Youth e.V., focused on combating misleading and biased content as well as preventing disinformation. I came across this programme on the Instagram page of the ‘Bridge to the Future’ organisation, one of the official operators of Erasmus+ in Azerbaijan, and decided to apply. I would never have known that the project would have such an everlasting impact on me!

Everything started with travelling…

There is an Azerbaijani proverb that says that “he who travels far knows much”. The immense opportunities offered by the Erasmus+ programme allow students and young people to fulfil this saying to its fullest extent! During my Erasmus experience, I spent my spare time visiting Berlin’s most iconic and historical landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Cathedral, as well as exploring the Altes and Futurium museums. I indulged in the famous German “Bratwurst” hot dog, and other tasty treats. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised by the advanced public transportation infrastructure, which made commuting to the city centre during peak hours relatively quick. This limited period of observing the locals and what was happening around us was truly enjoyable and enriching.

and continued with gaining new insights…

During the training programme, interactive seminars and workshops on the theme of misinformation and how to counteract it helped me to gain a deep understanding as well as ideas on how to effectively prevent it in my own society. In particular, I now have a much broader understanding of how fake news can cause major disasters in the digital age, and I recognise the importance of carefully verifying the reliability of every piece of news shared. In this regard, we analysed fully and in detail the possible channels of information and dissemination, the context, and methods for processing facts.

After returning to Azerbaijan, we conducted follow-up activities including interactive workshops to share the information acquired through the programme to other young people back home. And we have planned further initiatives in the near future in order to mitigate the negative consequences of disinformation.

… ending with engaging networking

The chance to meet people from such diverse backgrounds was one of the most appealing aspects of the programme. Our Azerbaijani team of five collaborated with teams of 20 young people from Portugal, Latvia and Türkiye, forming lifelong friendships. Some of our most cherished moments were the enjoyable times we had during the breaks and the international cultural night where participants represented their countries. I have since been in regular touch with my friend from Portugal, and am looking forward to welcoming him in my hometown, Baku.

I believe everyone should try this eye-opening programme and see where their life goes thereafter! Eramus+ is more than just training or volunteering. It indescribably broadens a person’s horizons and reaffirms their involvement in civil society. I absolutely feel more knowledgeable, more compassionate, and more open-minded after becoming a member of the Erasmus community.

To stay updated about such opportunities, I strongly advise anyone interested in short and long-term Erasmus projects in Azerbaijan to follow the official pages of the ‘Common Sense’ and ‘Bridge to the Future’ organisations. You can also follow the pages of the Erasmus+ Youth info centre and the National Erasmus+ Office in Azerbaijan for opportunities and information.

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