The ECTP will take place for the 10th time this year. After the closing camp in Brussels in December, there will have been more than 2000 students that have participated in the ECTP programme over the years.

In order to celebrate this we have reached out to former ECTP participants to see how they have used their experience from the programme and have made an impact in their society. We did this by sending out an application to all the students and received 50 applications. From the 50 applications we have selected 2 former participants who will be invited to the 10th ECTP Brussels camp to give an inspirational talk to this year’s participants, showing them how they can make a change in their societies!

Meet the 2 Alumni.

Hey guys! I am Karmen, a student of film directing from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In year 2015 I went on an exchange to Genova, Italy.

ECTP camp has been one of my favorite experiences in life; it has given me new perspectives about life, it directed me in the way of believing that I can be that one special individual that can change the environment around myself. I believe that exchange and ECTP camp can really easily show the real way for young people to find their way to the improvement of the world. It doesn’t matter what your improvement is as long as you do it! When I got back to my home country I tried to initiate good changes through art…and for now I think I am doing good. ECTP is all about standing up and speaking loud for your ideas. I hope that my story will inspire you, I am hoping we will have fun and I also I know you will get some of the most memorable moments from the camp. As I am in the film business, I can say: I hope it will be like in the movies. Looking forward to see you!

Karmen

Hello! My name is Josef, I’m Egyptian-Austria and a

student/volunteer/activist, born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. I’ve been studying in Vienna ever since I finished high school in South Korea.

The first time I went to Brussels was during my end of stay camp during my ECTP programme.

I went on exchange to France in 2016 from Austria. My desire to go to France was motivated by my interest in the culture, as well as my awesome French teacher, whom I’m grateful for showing me a new side of Europe I didn’t think existed.

This is what my AFS experience means to me — a journey on seeing how diverse, colourful and beautiful our continent is (and also that France is more than just the Eiffel Tower). I fell in love immediately with my exchange.

What I experienced on my ECTP was meeting people from all over the world, making strong bonds that I have to this day and being able to look back at a completely different but foundation-building part of my life. The camp I attended was a great ending to a life-changing experience. It was also my first real contact with EFIL and the moment where I thought “I want to be here again one day”.

The combined process of learning what active European citizenship means set in motion a chain of events that lead me where I am now.

After my ECTP programme I took the first chance to become a volunteer and have been in my AFS Vienna chapter ever since. After a few years of being active, I discovered that next to my interest in intercultural exchange and my love for intercultural dialogue, I wanted to help idealistic dream of changing the world come true.

So one intercultural journey I took lead me to become an activist in the LGBT+ scene in South Korea. From there on I learnt more on how grass roots activism and how goal-oriented groups can really make a huge difference! There was nothing more rewarding than seeing national news covering Seoul Pride and our comparably much smaller protests.

The following year I joined two political youth groups — making use of everything I learnt from the citizenship programme. It helped having an AFS background; in fact, I learnt so much from AFS in organisational work and content that my entry into political youth groups was smooth.

Active citizenship can have several meanings — to me it meant taking action and investing time and energy in fighting for a better world.

While AFS has always been part of my activism for a better world, I have come to learn that being politically active in youth and university groups helps you be in the forefront of political change. Since all decisions are made there, it was important for me to do my best to be a part of it. I wouldn’t let my age, nationality or sexual orientation be a barrier.

So I helped organise many protests against things I felt were unjust, I held coffee stands promoting certain days I felt were important (i.e. Anti-Diet Day or IDAHOBIT*), I vote for the ideals I believe in, I’m an active voice in my groups and outside of them, I go campaigning to encourage others in my university to vote and — most importantly — I feel like I am making a difference.

That is why my simple message to anyone coming back from exchange would be: join AFS and a civil group.

It doesn’t really matter which one group or for what cause — being an active citizen means fighting for what you, an individual, cares about and what you want to see changed. My experience with my AFS chapter is that the volunteers are, in that regard, very much active and diverse in what they do next to AFS. And I really hope this tradition doesn’t change.