Name: VEBY – Virtual Exchanges for Balkan Youth
Timespan: July, 2023 – June, 2026
Donor: European Union / ERASMUS+ Lump Sum Grants
Budget: 88.774 €
Applicant: United Societies of Balkans (U.S.B) (Greece)
Partners: Youth Alliance – Krusevo (North Macedonia), Local Democracy Agency Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Together for Life (TFL) (Albania)
Virtual Exchanges for Balkan Youth (VEBY) is a 3-year project that focuses on enhancing the participation of young people with fewer opportunities in virtual mobilities, and the building the skills of youth workers and educators to foster such inclusion, along with media literacy and peacebuilding attitudes. The Project’s consortium consists of youth organizations from neighboring Balkan countries, which share differences in their post-conflict affairs and economic levels, but commonalities in ethno-diversity, multiculturalism and the need for inclusion of minorities.
Another shared current issue the Partnership’s communities are facing is the global phenomena of the COVID-19 outbreak which has brought more interaction with and through the digital world, but at the same time more dangers, due to the rapid and frequent spread of fake news. In combination with the social distancing and social alienation that took place globally, young people found themselves unprepared in the face of social exclusion, and isolation with only access to a constant flow of unfiltered information. In this way, young people’s personal and social well-being has been and is undermined, enhancing polarization, division of opinions and lack of critical understanding, issues that consist of a reinforcement to the geo-political issues that the Balkan countries are already facing.
This Project aims to foster and promote the inclusion, tolerance, media literacy, soft skills and activation of young people in the Partner’s Balkan communities by providing them with educational opportunities from trained youth workers, which are low threshold and participatory – virtual youth exchanges – attempting to reach the ones that are facing social obstacles to participate in such opportunities.
Overall, VEBY, its aims and activities were designed upon the needs of the Partners’ target groups and Partners’ local and national communities. The Project aims to upscale already used practiced during period of Covid-19 where virtual mobilities began to become more popular in the Erasmus+ world, and to use the collected experience of all partners to provide constructive experiences to the target groups. At the same time, VEBY will use a target approach to better involve young people, and will pay attention to potential difficulties young people with fewer opportunities face, in addition to potential difficulties for the ones coming from non-Programme countries (e.g. communication in English, unacquaintance with digital tools, etc), in order to produce a high quality learning program for the participants. Last, VEBY aims to promote the EU scope and its opportunities to the non-Programme countries of the Partnership, as well as at European level.
Primary target groups: young people, young people with fewer opportunities, youth workers, educators, youth organizations
Secondary target groups: local communities of involved countries, local stakeholders (local authorities, policy makers, local institutions/councilors), general public
The needs and preferences of young people, and especially of the ones with fewer opportunities, for participating in virtual exchanges, will be evaluated through the Project, creating a
basis for their future engagement in the activities of the Partnership. Such results will be used in the contexts of the local and national communities of young people, in order to create educational programs and opportunities that will address their needs and difficulties. The local communities will benefit from their young people and youth workers that participated in the international exchanges, by the exchange of educational experiences and information about Erasmus+ virtual exchanges and opportunities.
The local communities will be benefitted as well by the strengthening of the intercultural scope and by the exchange of experiences, expertise and good practices among the multinational Partners of the Project, that will be transferred to the local level, if found useful. Stakeholders, such as local authorities, institutions, councilors and policy makers will be in the position to better understand young people (due to the results of the focus group’s analysis and manual), and to design and adapt their policies to their needs for empowerment and inclusion. The manual designed by the Consortium will be spread and used from the Partners and other target groups, in order to include young people in virtual exchanges more effectively in the future, and to identify suitable and tested practices.