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TRADIOTIONAL CRAFTS + MODERN BUSINESSES

The Youth Association from Transylvania organized an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange entitled "TRADIOTIONAL CRAFTS + MODERN BUSINESSES.” The event was implemented in the village of Ruganesti between the 21st and 31st of May, where 36 participants from Romania, Estonia, Italy, Spain, Slovakia and Slovenia observed and tried out traditional crafts, offered business advice for the craftsmen and learned about one another’s crafts, traditional games and cultures. The non formal activities, workshops, games and sessions were held in English.
 Participants arrived on the 21st of May in the afternoon and late at night to Ruganesti village, they occupied their rooms in the Kuria Guesthouse and tried to relax for the first-day sessions.
The first day was dedicated for learning about each other, their backgrounds and becoming familiar with the program. So after breakfast, the participants started to get to know the village by playing a treasure hung game where the local people helped the newcomers. Once returned from the treasure hunt, everyone presented their results. Then, they had lunch and following that, they got acquainted with the project timetable and after a relaxing break, they had various name learning and team-building games. The evening started with daily evaluations and learning reflection using the diary, and closed with the dinner.
The second day, after the introductions, they focused on the objectives of the youth exchange and for this purpose the participants also expressed their hopes, their fears, their ideas of contribution. In the afternoon the participating countries were introduced to each other through presentations about traditional crafts, trades and customs. Before dinner we did daily evaluations and learning reflection using the diary. During the evening the intercultural evening took place where the youth had a chance to experience each others’ traditional dishes, drinks and snacks.
On the third day, the ‘actual’ work has already begun early in the morning when, those who volunteered assisted to the traditional pork meat preparation process which included burning, cleaning chopping, portioning and sausage making. Then, the young people were visited by a family of basket-makers of Roma descent. They held a short presentation, after which the participants prepared their own baskets, of course, with the constant aid of the 4 experts. Following this, they tried to perform useful ideas for basket weaving, focusing on modern marketing possibilities, which was well received by the family. After lunch they visited the 800 years of the local church where the reverend shared the history of the temple and shared its local legends. In the afternoon, the Spanish team presented some very dynamic traditional games which were played by all participants. Before dinner we made daily evaluations and learning reflection using the diary. The night passed with some fun Spanish lessons, songs and dances.
 
 
On the next day they traveled to Criseni where they visited the local museum where Romanian straw hats are made and displayed. They visited the exhibition and were given a brief orientation on how hats should be worn, the old traditions and rules. They also tried out the straw hat making procedures like braiding and making rings. After visiting the souvenir shop of the museum, they visited Lake Bezid learning about its sad history with the village that now lies under the lake. After this trip, the group passed by the office of the Youth Association from Transylvania, where they interacted with the 11 EVS volunteers of the association. The Slovenians presented games popular in their country and we ended the afternoon with daily evaluations and learning reflection using the diary. After dinner Slovenia closed the day with presenting the major locations in Slovenia and the intricacies of their very complex grammar.
On the fifth day they tried out the preparation of homemade bread at a nearby family which makes bread at home and sells it in the village. Participants made the dough, heated the large oven, took out the bread and cleaned its crust. Then they were visited by one of the nearby furniture painters who presented the Sekler motifs, symbols and their meaning. Using this knowledge, the participants then painted trees of life on already prepared circular wooden plates according to the traditions of the area. While painting they talked with the craftswoman about possibilities of innovation and development in the trade.. Then, at lunch we had fresh bread and stake from the pork meat we prepared (the bread and most of the meat was consumed during the exchange). In the continuation of the program, after lunch we went to one of the local cow farms, where again a couple of new information were passed down to us by the farmers. Then we tried out the milking of the cows as well. The Slovaks then presented some old games and just before dinner, we had a short discussion about daily evaluations and learning reflection using the diary. The sun set with the Slovak night, where we sang and danced.
On the sixth day of the exchange the participants were visited by a wood carver and carpenter who presented - through a short lecture - the symbolism and motifs of totem like wooden headboards used in the region and of Sekler gates. These are the things he usually crates. Then he showed us and explained the usage of carving tools. Then the participants of course had the chance to carve on two wooden boards. They were very pleased to have tried out the carving, in which the master woodcarver willingly helped. During the whole process participants had a thorough dialogue with the wood carver about his future plans, the prices of the products he makes and his marketing strategies, offering some valuable information to him in the same time. After lunch a short, but well-deserved free time was given to the participants, when they rested off the past days fatigues. In the late afternoon, the Romanian team presented a few traditional games and all participants played them. Before dinner, there was a middle evaluation, where the youth gave feedback to the organizers. After dinner the youth had language and culture related activities with the Romanian team.
On the seventh day, they went a few houses next from the accommodation, where they met a woman who gathers, prepares and makes various products from herbs. They then went to the nearby hill and meadow and collected 3 types of flowers for tea. Then they returned to her house and drank hot tea to get warmed up. Naturally they got to know some new herbs and their use, which sparked a lot of interest in them. As a closing the participants checked out her storage basement, bought some of her products and after seeing how she markets what she does, they gave her some advice, mainly concerning packaging and online markets. In the early afternoon they visited the local blacksmith, who introduced them to blacksmithing and they were able to look at the entire process of making and putting horseshoes on a horse. In the afternoon we played some more technical, but still traditional games that we all enjoyed. We also had daily evaluations and learning reflection using the diary. After dinner, the Italians introduced their country, language and vast culture to the other participants with a very successful presentation.
On the day before last we got familiar with wool planking or felting, where a husband and wife visited us and while explaining their life story and the history of felting, they also made with us several decorative elements like balls and flower decorations using wool, soap and water. After that we tried to give usable proposals, advertising strategies, new products and so on, thus increasing their prospects for further development of their crafts. During the afternoon and Estonia showed us some game and a presentation, after which the participants had to finish writing the articles for the booklet which was planned on the first 2 days. Before dinner we made daily evaluations and learning reflection using the diary. After dinner, the Estonians closed the day with the presentation of the country.
On the last day an advertised open day was held, which invited the local youth, adults and the arts and crafts masters we worked with, so that young people can also try out the crafts and manual skills, could turn with their issues towards the craftsmen, or even have informal conversations with foreign participants, who of course re-introduced their own traditional games to the local guests, who enjoyed the common games. Then the goulash which was made closed to the open day. In the afternoon more time was given for Youthpass reflection and the final evaluation and future planning of the project was also done. Before dinner, participants received their Youthpass ad during and after dinner participants said farewell to all another
 
 
Finally, the organizers and participants can talk about a successful youth exchange, where together with the craftsmen and the local community alike had a great time and learned from one another. The village dwellers enjoyed the language barriers which caused some funny moments in communication, but they also put value on the ease of communication. Participants left with good experiences, thereby increasing the popularity of the region and having positive judgment about Romania. The interaction with the craftsmen, the direct feedback given to them and the booklet that was created will greatly support them in the future.