Project “YOUth Ambassadors of Non-Formal Learning”
Interview with Mateja Lozar: When you are forced to think with your head…
Association for Developing Voluntary Work Novo mesto conducted, as part of Erasmus+ project Youth Ambassadors of Non-Formal Learning, an interview with Mateja Lozar, future psychotherapist, about non-formal education among youth.
Interviewee: Mateja Lozar
List of Questions
To begin with, can you tell us something about yourself?
I am a young woman who admires the world very much. There is nothing that does not arouse my interests – from cooking, music, painting and even discovering the hidden corners of this planet.
I am working in a family business and in parallel; I am finishing my first year of studying psychotherapy. I have to admit that life could not be better right now. A person is one of the most mysterious creatures there is – until the arrival of aliens (laughs). I believe that when we learn about human nature, we also learn about ourselves as individuals. And these never-ending insights always remind me that we have to learn and get to know each other until the end, otherwise we will never be so close to the realisation of our true beauty.
Have you ever participated in non-formal education? If yes, what kind of?
I had the opportunity to participate in some non-formal trainings. As a child I learned to dance, I enjoyed attending various sports classes – from volleyball, athletics, aerobics and later Pilates and Yoga. Of course there is also piano and guitar playing. Last year I also took part in various Erasmus+ projects. The first one was the youth exchange Safeport in Portugal, which was about refugees and how to help them. Shortly afterwards I took part in a short ESC stay (European Solidarity Corps) in Bulgaria, where I learned a lot by participating in an international festival and meeting new people, getting an insight into the organization of festivals, etc. Finally, I took part in one of the meetings within the project, where we prepared a handbook with descriptions of workshops that can be carried out by youth workers in the centres together with children and young people. Just in these days, I put on my dancing shoes again, because my learning path led me to Salsa.
In which non-formal education organizations have you participated?Last year, these were non-profit organizations dealing with volunteer work and the integration of Roma and migrants into the local environment. They are involved in teaching and through non-formal education; they raise awareness of the local population in various fields, such as environmental protection, migrants, refugees, the importance of preserving cultural heritage, etc.
Why did you choose non-formal education in the first place?
Through non-formal education, you learn things that normal, formal education does not give you. From different researches, it is already known that if participants is actively involved in the happenings, they will learn the materials faster and more efficiently. This is already a necessity in today's world if we want to follow all developments. Despite more effective learning, non-formal education also points out that human is a social being. Two heads are better than one! And group work is becoming more and more of a problem because of the capitalist attitude that is not the best for society. One more thing I would highlight, which I find crucial. That is, you are forced to think with your head. With new ideas, you bring greater development and the opportunity not to be deceived by others. Because unfortunately this is a problem in the world.
Have you gained anything other than knowledge by participating in such trainings?If I may put it that way… I have gained many new people who have a thousand and one views of the world. Getting to know other cultures and habits gives you the strength to see the world through different eyes and not just through your own. Do you think that young people use all of the given opportunities for additional, non-formal education in Slovenia? Why do you think they do not?Very few young people take advantage of these opportunities, especially when it comes to non-formal education opportunities under the Erasmus+ program. In Slovenia, the problem mostly lies with parents. Rarely do Slovenian parents travel around the world and see it with their own eyes, experience a foreign environment and see not only the problems, but also the beauty of it. They mostly get to know the world through the media; so as a result, children are not allowed to go somewhere, to go and see the world. This is only because the parents are afraid that something might happen to their child, something that the parents have seen online, on television or read in the newspapers. On the other hand, the children have never been anywhere, except in the surrounding countries, mostly in Croatia, and they are afraid so that is the reason they do not attend these events. Slovenians are quite conservative in this regard.
What do you think would attract young people to attend non-formal learning more often?
If I concentrate on Erasmus+… Everything should start with the parents. If parents trust organizations and believe that nothing will happen to their children somewhere abroad, they will find it easier to motivate their children and let them go out into the world. Unfortunately, most young people are still not independent until they have completed formal education, after either high school or college, and start working, so parents still have a lot of say in their lives.
Do you already have plans for which of the non-formal trainings you will attend next?
Apart from the aforementioned salsa course, I do not know. Due to the situation we have in Slovenia and around the world, non-formal learning or organizations that deal with non-formal learning are facing new challenges. I am very tempted to take part in one of the Erasmus+ projects again (and hopefully soon, so I am waiting for the first opportunity to do so.
Given all the possible non-formal learnings, what are the ones that interest you the most, and why?These are topics related to human relations, art, and everything related to environmental protection.
To conclude: what would you say to young people about non-formal learning?Non-formal learning is more than learning. You train your performance, collaborate with others and get to know new horizons that you would never have discovered otherwise.