Every year at the end of November, everyone in EFIL knows it is the most wonderful time of the year together with Christmas – it’s ECTP time! This year, it was the 8th year in a row that the ECTP Brussels Camp took place. Exactly 254 participants and 48 volunteers gathered from 27 November to 1 December in order to reflect, learn, explore, meet each other, and have a nice time together.
ECTP – The European Citizenship Trimester Programme – is an exchange programme run by AFS organisations in Europe and coordinated by EFIL. Starting their exchange in August/September, the participants all gather in Brussels in the end of their exchange. This meeting is the ECTP Brussels Camp, which adds a powerful learning dimension to the AFS trimester exchange programme.
During the ECTP Brussels Camp, the students have an opportunity to reflect on their exchange and share and discuss about what it means to live in another European country for 3 months. However, the participants not only share their experiences of living in another family and going to a different school, they also reflect on how this unique experience can empower them to be active citizens in Europe and in their communities.
In fact, the ECTP Brussels Camp is not only about becoming aware of belonging to Europe, but also about starting to act to make Europe a better place to be. Therefore, students attended workshops on different topics linked to Active Citizenship in Europe and then learned how to become agents of change in society through the ‘Changemaking’ method. Some of the workshops at the camp were on the topic of Sustainability, Feminism, Active Citizenship in everyday situations, Consumer society, Populism, and more. All the participants developed a small personal project to implement once they are back in they home countries.
The ECTP Brussels Camp is not only about workshops and planning to take action, but also getting to know directly what Europe and active participation in European society is all about. Participants went on a trip to the Brussels city centre where they visited the European Parliament. The youth group also took the chance to explore the city centre of Europe’s capital, which allowed the participants of the two venues, Destelheide and Hanenbos, to meet.
This year’s camp also had a novelty called Open Badges. Badges are online images that participants can earn throughout and after their exchange. They represent the competences students have earned during their experience, and can be included in their CV. We are happy to say that more than 140 students have registered on the platform and almost 600 badges have been claimed so far.
All this has been possible thanks to the efforts of a great team of 48 volunteers from all over Europe who prepared the content of the workshops and coordinated the logistics of this huge event located at the two venues to host all the participants.
Have a look at some pictures here.
The programme is growing every year and we are looking forward to the next year, when we will try out the new venue ‘Vormingscentrum Malle’ in the province of Antwerp!