Our first experience with graphic recording: WOW!

Our first activity of the year took place earlier this month in Thessaloniki (Greece). This youth seminar entitled “Living in Europe Together” gathered 37 young people from 11 European countries and managed to create an enabling environment for new ideas, youth collaboration and a few promising actions of advocacy.

To recount the week and capture the spirit of the 5-days-activity, we decided to change a little bit our usual method and bring more color to our pedagogical report. To do so, we called on the expertise of Coline, graphic facilitator.

What is graphic recording?

Graphic recording (sometimes referred as reflective graphics, graphic listening…) is a visual process used in various events such as meetings, seminars, workshops and conferences. Its aim is to capture the ideas and expressions of a group or an individual in words, images and colors.

Inspired by architecture, design, computer engineering, art and psychology, graphic recording is often produced in large scale imagery, allowing a work process to be summarized clearly and recorded in real time. This visually translation of complex content allows people to reach their goal with more efficiency and to keep a better lasting memory of the working session.

Graphic recording combines the skills of note-taking, art and story-telling.

Graphic recording

Meet Coline, graphic facilitator

Coline is artist and graphic facilitator. She studied architecture at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Malaquais in Paris and at the Technical University of Istanbul. She did a European Voluntary Service in a Berlin-based NGO and is since then active in an international network of creative engaged people. Living between France and Austria, she works from project to project, from country to country.

Visit her portfolio to know more about her work and maybe contact her if you would like to introduce graphic recording in one of your beautiful youth projects 😉

Graphic recording

Living Together: our first activity visually recorded

Graphic recording was definitely an added value during this Youth Seminar and both the participants and the team were enthusiastic about Coline’s work. Between each activity or at the end of an intense day; we could see the participants coming near the drawings, studying them, reliving the things they had participated in with their eyes and really marking their own memories with the whole purpose and conclusions of the day.

It is a fantastic reporting tool which gave life to the participants ideas in real time and allowed them to be even more focused and productive. We can’t wait to repeat the experience in Romania in July for our second activity of the year, the Partnership Building Activity “Working together for an inclusive Europe”.



Living in Europe Together – Day 5

Day 5 was the very last day of our Youth Seminar “Living in Europe Together”. It was an enthusiastic and emotional day as we looked at the future (individual projects, exchanges of good pratices, potential partnerships…) and the past (evaluation of the past week, feedbacks, heartfelt remembrances…).

The morning was mostly dedicated to the future as the participants were invited to present the Individual Action Plan they had been able to develop the day before, with the help, advices and suggestions of their colleagues. The presented projects tackled a number of issues such as youth participation, refugees’ integration, LGBT’s rights…

The second activity of the morning consisted in a training on a technique of project analysis: the famous SWOT technique. The aim of a SWOT technique is to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of a project. By teaching the participants the use of this technique, the Team gave them a tool for analysing their future European projects and the Individual Action Plan they would implement at local level later on.

This presentation was followed by a training on Advocacy in which the young people were taught about the 5 Steps for Advocacy: identifying the Needs/Issues that need to be sorted, set a Goal, find Allies, make an Action Plan, Never Give Up (Public Pressure). This very inspirational course was concluded by the following quote:

One candle alone cannot light a fire, but it can light many more candles.

Later on this day, Mariam, treasurer of the Board of Youth Express Network, presented the network in depth: its values and purpose, its structure. She explained the process of becoming a member of Y-E-N, talked about our SAY-ers, Y-E-N’s pool and ressource, and how the participants could join the network if they wanted. She also announced the dates for the upcoming General Assembly and next activity, inviting the participants to continue to be part of the organisation’s projects.

The rest of the day was focused on the past few days. It was a time for evaluating the seminar, exchanging the official certificates, remembering good times passed and saying goodbye and “see you soon”.

The last day of “Living in Europe Together”, our 5 days Youth Seminar, was intensely charged with gratitude and promises for a brighter and more inclusive future. Our participant have shared 5 brilliant days together and they left Thessaloniki with new friends, great ideas and confidence to achieve them, all together, in Europe.

Warm smiles and hugs from Thessaloniki,

Youth Express Network


Living in Europe Together – Day 4

We just finished Day 4 of our 5 days Youth Seminar in Thessaloniki. This day was focused on Trust Building, Project Management and the process for imagining an individual Action Plan.

The morning activities started with a few games aiming at developing the team’s trust in each other and in themselves. They consisted in balance games which demanded to the participants to let themselves fall on one or 5 of their friends, or create together complex structures with their bodies, three exercises that required trust from them, trust in the others, when they were being held, but also on themselves, when the well being of another depended on them.

The second objective of the day was to make the young people realise that they can have a good impact on problems that surrounds them on daily life. To reach that aim, they participated in a Forum Theater. Divided in 4 little groups, they proposed stereotypical scenes of daily hate speech or discrimination, scenes that could be interrupted at anytime by the audience when they thought that an injustice was happening.

After that, the participants were invited to create the Tree of Problems of their cities, identifying three or more major problems and highlighting their Roots, Causes and Consequences. They then gathered in groups to present their Tree of Problems and collaborate with each other.

To help the young people create their individual project, they were introduced to the Project Management Cycle. They then were able to use this management technique to structure their project around 8 points: the Needs → the Aim → the Objectives → the Programme → the Activities → the Needs (linked with the activities) → the Action →the Evaluation →… In groups, they were able to share their individual project and gather opinions, advices and suggestions from their colleagues.

The last technique they learnt today was a method to develop and present an Individual Action Plan. Using the “5 W 1 H questions”, they explained Why they wanted to work for their chosen cause, What they hoped/expected to do or achieve, Who or for Whom the Action would be implemented, When and Where the Action would happen, and finally, How they would organise the Action…

The day ended smoothly with the last Intercultural evening with presentations of Portugal, Turquey, Romania and Bulgaria. We were able to taste some fantastic culinary specialities.

This day was truly dedicated to each of the participant’s individual project. They ended their day with tools, opinions, suggestions, advices and above all, friends and contacts to achieve their hopes and goals.

The last day of the seminar has unfortunately come but we will enjoy it to its fullest.

Optimistic and enthusiastic regards,

Youth Express Network


Living in Europe Together – Day 3

Day 3 was a very interesting day for our group of young people as they went on several Field Visits in Thessaloniki. During the morning, the group was divided in two.

The first group went to the Municipality of Neapolis-Sykies where they met Maria Roidi, City Councillor of the Municipality and member of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe. She presented her background and role to the participants and talked about the political structure of Thessaloniki, the role and influence of Youth in political decision and the challenges it can represent. 3 other young women active in the Municipality also shared their experiences: Mary Drosopulos, youth trainer and consultant for the Municipality, Chryssa Kopra, collaborator of the Office of Planning of the Municipality on implementation and development of youth, social and cultural projects, and Fenia Papakonstantinou, President of AID and representation of education activities of AID (aid.com.gr). The participants were able to ask to these inspiring young women all of their questions and left the Municipality with a better understanding of the significant things young people can actually do at their own local and political level.

The second half of the group went to the cultural Neighbourhood of Sikies where they were welcomed by Eirini Kagiampini, the president of the community and responsible for the cultural actions. There, they were invited to attend 3 different workshops: ceramic art, deco art and recycling art. These workshops are usually attended by unemployed people of the neighborhood and participating to them was an opportunity for our group of young people to experience social work using art and culture. They left with a nice piece of art as a souvenir! Their morning program finished with a little guided tour around the facility to see the different buildings of this initiative, including an exhibition house and a youth centre.

The whole group then enjoyed some bounding free time in the city centre.

On the afternoon, the participants were hosted by the Municipality of Thessaloniki where they were welcomed by our friend Aris from United Societies of Balkans! He kindly had organised for our group to meet with two very influential persons for Youth of Thessaloniki: Babis Papaioannou, General Secretary for Life Long Learning and Youth at Ministy of Education and Lina Liakou, Deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki. They were kind enough to introduce themselves and their respective work in favour of Youth and explained the Youth policies of Greece and of the city, which was elected European Youth Capital in 2014.

After some exchange with them, the whole group enjoyed a typical Greek meal in a pleasant restaurant of the city center. With that, the day ended with the nicest moment and memories.

Only two days left and already we can see some friendship growing, and with them, beautiful collaborations and projects to be developed all over Europe!

Warm hugs and hopeful thoughts from Thessaloniki,

Youth Express Network


Living in Europe Together – Day 2

Here we are again with news from our Youth Seminar in Thessaloniki: “Living in Europe Together”! 🙂 Day 2 is now over and we all feel we have learned a lot from today’s activities.

Today was meant to help the participants to put themselves in the shoes of others by learning about different types of discriminations and violations of Human and Social Rights through 3 different activities.

The day began with an outdoor activity during which each person was attributed a hidden character: homeless person, daughter of an ambassador, immigrant, refugee… Standing in on line, they all had to imagine the background and context of their characters, after what they were presented with a list of facts. For each case, they had to take a step forward if they thought their character was privileged, thus showing little by little the gaps and inequalities of society. This experience was powerful and it leaded to a common reflection around freedom and access of basic Human and Social Rights.

The morning continued with the second activity, a treasure hunt associating a team building dynamic with a training in Human and Social Rights, and finished with an indoor debate-based activity aiming to introduce structured dialogue.

During the afternoon, the 5 members of the Team of Facilitator shared their best practices with the participants (divided in little groups). Thanks to this, the young people were able to discover concrete actions taken in 5 countries (Romania, Italy, The Netherlands, Kosovo and Armenia), at different levels and focused on various issues: Roma Minorities, Refugees, Youth, Discrimination ; also using different tools such as Non-formal Education, Soft Skills, Human and Social Rights…

The second day of our Youth Seminar ended one more time with a intercultural evening, this time under the flags of Spain, Greece, Italy and The Netherlands.

2 rich days have now been achieved with curiosity, mutual respect and openness and we can’t wait to continue our work! Tomorrow will be yet another very special day, dedicated this time to two very interesting field visits at our partners and friend organisations. Many discoveries to come, so, stay tuned 😉

Inclusive thoughts from Thessaloniki,

Youth Express Network


Living in Europe Together – Day 1

Today was the first day of our Youth Seminar “Living in Europe Together: Our Challenge”, the perfect sunny day for getting to know each other.

The morning was dedicated to presentations and team-building activities. First and indispensable: learning everyone’s names! The participants played a game associating names with gestures, a good way to break the ice! The Facilitator Team proceeded to present the program of the week, beautifully illustrated by Coline, our graphic reporter. The young people then were asked to complete the Tree of Fears, Contributions and Expectations on the seminar, sharing with other their thoughts on the days to come.

We had the pleasant visit of our friends from United Societies of Balkans, represented by Aris who presented the organisations and its daily work 🙂 USB will be our host in Thessaloniki! The team building continued with a few group activities based on non-formal education such as “2 truths 1 lie” and “Mission Impossible”.

During the afternoon, the group went on a very special hike through the forest nearby. They participated in a team-building activity that requested from them listening, respect for each other, and combining ideas. They did it all while creating new friends and great memories!

The last activities of the day consisted in presenting each other countries and learning from others: in groups, the young people presented each of their countries from social, political, economical and cultural points of views. Finally, the first day of the activity ended with the first of 3 intercultural evenings during which the participants will share with the group some of their country’s interesting and funny facts or information: music, food, games, celebrities, history, personal stories. The first countries presented were: Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Armenia and France.

This first day was focused on getting to know each other and each others countries, our differences and the things that bring us togther. The names are memorised, the special dishes were devoured and already we can feel a collaborative and enthusiastic energy floating in the air.

Smiles and sun rays from Thessaloniki,

Youth Express Network


Prep’ Meeting Postcard: Activity One here we come!

Inclusive Hugs from Thessaloniki were our team of facilitators just held the very first Preparation Meeting of the Year! Together, they discovered the location were our next Youth Seminar will take place in May. They also met with our partners and prepared the 5 days program which will give to our 37 young participants much to reflect on. We can’t wait for the Seminar to start!

The Project

“TOG(AE)THER EUROPE: Living, Working and Shaping Europe together” is our year-long project for the year 2017. Financially supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, this project was developed as the next logical step from the previous activity, last year’s work plan: “Angle it Right: New perspective on young people with fewer opportunities”. After having helped Young People to tell their stories and really see themselves as valuable citizens, we decided to dedicate this year’s work to help them advocate and lobby for their social inclusion and their access to social rights in Europe.

“Living in Europe together: Our Challenge!” – Youth seminar

Our 5 facilitators met in Thessaloniki (Greece) to prepare the first of this 3-activities year-project:

At a time where the European identity and its values are at stake with the rise of extremism, radicalisation and hate speech, the aim of this seminar is to encourage young people in redefining their identity as a young person living in Europe and their place in society. 

You’re interested in learning more about our project? Find more here.

Mount Olympus

Board Meeting Postcard: with love from Thessaloniki

In march 2017, the Board (almost all of them!) and the Coordination Office (almost all of them!) met in Thessaloniki.

Brainstorming, overview on the annual activities, team reconnecting, excitement, enthusiasm, energy..! Under the mediterranean sun, we worked hard and planned a lot of beautiful projects to come.

We also had the opportunity to meet our friends organisations United Societies of Balkans and Youth Social Rights Network. USB was our host for this Board Meeting in Thessaloniki and we had the pleasure to stay at the same hotel where they were having a 10 day Youth Exchange with 56 young people from all over Europe. The place in question will also be our home during the first activity of our work plan for 2017, “Living in Europe Together: Our Challenge”, which will take place in May. It was very inspiring to work in the middle of such a dynamic and enthusiastic atmosphere and we can’t wait to be back. Our time spent with Youth Social Rights Network allowed us to share experiences and ideas on future projects to create together! We are eager to join forces with this network!

You can find the photo album of this productive meeting here on our Facebook Page.