Odyssey – Ethnic Minority Youth Leadership Training

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

We implemented John Quincy’s words in a leadership training funded by the Youth In Action Programme of the European Commission. Between 24th of July – 2nd of August, 2012, 30 young people gathered to learn, to test themselves, to gain experience in leadership.

The participants came in the Outward Bound International Youth Center in Sovata from 7 countries (Hungary, France, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijani), they are over 18 years old and most of them belonged from ethnic minority groups. It was one of our goals to bring people together who had different cultures and backgrounds, thus creating the opportunity to learn about each other, from each other and gain experience together. In addition, we provided an opportunity to develop leadership skills, attributes, attitudes which prepare the participants to be a good example in their own environment, and to be an active citizen.
During 10 days we had time for getting to know each other, for problem-solving tasks and for acquiring some theories about leadership. We had a 3-day land expedition and 2-day canoe expedition combined with cycling where the participants tried out themselves how do they feel by standing in front of the group as a leader and co-ordinating them. The international team conquered the Ghiurghiului/Görgényi Mountains by hiking, the Nirajul/Nyárád Valley by cycling and the Mureş/Maros River by canoeing.

The participants challenged themselves in different leadership roles and tasks and got feedbacks both from trainers and peers. The highlight of the training was when a 22-year-old Roma girl stood at the head of the international team and led it successfully. This proved that, if there are equal chances and willingness it’s possible even for socially disadvantaged (as most Roma people are in Romania) persons to overcome their social conditions and to cope with higher qualified jobs. This was a great lesson both for participants and trainers.

The expedition was not only a physical challenge to the participants, but also taught them to accept each other, work as a team, to be united, and when needed, to help each other. Ten days were enough for them to plant a seed in themselves, which will be useful to be proactive in their life in the future and to inspire other people who surround them.

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