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🌍 Promoting Democratic Citizenship: IDEALS Erasmus+ Project's First LTTA in the Netherlands

From May 13 to May 17, 2024, our Erasmus+ project named IDEALS (Intercultural Democratic Education and Soft Skills) held its first Learning, Teaching, Training Activity (LTTA) in the Netherlands. This activity, aligned with the fourth Work Package (WP4) of the IDEALS project, aimed to develop democratic citizenship through a variety of cooperative activities. The event facilitated cooperation, shared best practices among European educational institutions, and promoted democratic citizenship among young people.

The primary objectives of the LTTA were multifaceted. Firstly, it aimed to increase students' understanding of democratic values, including human rights, equality, and social justice, and to encourage their active participation in democratic processes at local, national, and European levels. Secondly, the activities were designed to develop students' intercultural competence and understanding, promoting respect for diversity and multiculturalism . Thirdly, fostering a sense of shared values and common goals among students was a key objective, encouraging them to work collaboratively across cultural and national boundaries .

In addition to these goals, the LTTA sought to enhance students' communication, collaboration, and leadership skills by providing them with opportunities to practice these skills in a multicultural and multilingual environment . Empowering young people to become active and engaged citizens, committed to working towards positive social change in their communities and beyond, was another crucial aim . Finally, the LTTA aimed to promote the values of the Erasmus+ programme, raising awareness among participants and stakeholders about the opportunities for intercultural learning and cooperation that the programme provides .

The LTTA began with a visit to the European Commission and the European Parliamentarium in Brussels on May 13, 2024. This visit provided students with valuable insights into the functioning of the European Union and its role in promoting democratic values and citizenship across member states 🇪🇺. The visit also included exploring the city of Brussels, offering a deeper understanding of European democracy .

The second day featured a Model EU workshop led by European Commission speaker Fons Janssens. This interactive session allowed students to engage in a simulation of the EU's decision-making process, fostering a practical understanding of European governance . In the afternoon, students participated in group work and a cooperative action-bound game to explore Maastricht, the city where the Euro was born. This activity not only enhanced their teamwork skills but also deepened their appreciation of European history and cooperation 🇪🇺.

On the third day, a workshop conducted by Global Exploration focused on global legislative processes based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) . This session provided students with a global perspective on legislative practices and the importance of sustainability. In the afternoon, students participated in sports activities, promoting teamwork and intercultural interaction in an informal setting .

The fourth day was dedicated to group work, where students from Turkey, the Netherlands, Romania, Italy, and Bulgaria collaborated to solve challenges and produce new projects and creative solutions . This day emphasized the importance of collaboration and innovation, as students worked together to address real-world issues. The LTTA concluded on the fifth day with students presenting their projects, showcasing the outcomes of their collaborative efforts . The day ended with a farewell session, reflecting on the week's experiences and the bonds formed .

The LTTA was marked by several significant outcomes. It increased students' understanding of democratic processes through direct engagement with European institutions and simulations. The activities fostered intercultural competence and respect for diversity, while collaborative projects encouraged innovation and problem-solving across cultural and national boundaries . Students also developed crucial skills such as communication, collaboration, and leadership, and were empowered to become active citizens committed to social change .

As we reflect on this successful event, we are excited about the future phases of the IDEALS project. The experiences and insights gained from this LTTA will significantly contribute to the ongoing success of our initiatives, helping to create more inclusive and participatory educational environments across Europe. We extend our gratitude to all participants and partners for their dedication and contributions, and we look forward to continuing our collaborative journey towards fostering democratic citizenship and intercultural understanding.

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