HYPe+ Harris Young Producers Erasmus+

Back in January 2020, a group of the Harris Young Producers headed to Ramales, Spain to take part in an Erasmus+ Youth forum called Successful project designs for Youth: Dragon dreaming Methodology. We caught up with Jonny, who wrote this blog post about his experience!

” Throwback January 2020. Talks of coronavirus in china starting to consume the news, Brexit, now definitely underway will happen on the 31st of this month and the uncertainty of what that actually will mean for the UK looms over all of Europe.  The following month will be the opening of my fellow Harris Young Producers (HYPe) and our first exhibition that we curated together. The combined excitement to anxiety is overwhelming, but a light at the end of the tunnel, me and some of my peers will be taking part in the last UK Erasmus+ programme. Involving an inclusive 10 day long stay in Cantabria, Spain.

A bit of background about Erasmus+ in case you aren’t already familiar. Eramus+ is an EU funded education, training, youth and sport programme. Basically different groups of young producers and professionals from around Europe get flown to whatever country the programme happens to be in (We got lucky for January weather, it might be Spain but a forewarning not the best time of year to go swimming) to take part in the programme together but also enrich each-others’ experience with a mix of cultures, languages and life experience. I ended up finding this aspect of the programme to be the most beneficial and am now all the more wise about the culture’s and happenings of my European counter-parts countries.

We embark our journey on the 24th of January from our HQ in Preston to London Stansted Airport. #Roadtrip Some of us may have been more excited than others, but the suspense and excitement would today be overcome by amazement.

Before boarding the plan at Stansted Airport

We land in Santander Airport slightly dazed in the time change and Spain’s unfamiliar winter humidity. Outside of the terminal a bus is waiting for us along with numerous groups of people awkwardly gathered together, we exchange some hellos and a few shy introductions all held in suspense of what the next ten days had in store for all of us. Are we going to make friends? Is there going to be language barriers? What if nobody likes me?

The coach set off towards the mountains as the sun was beginning to set. Each person on the coach in awe at the natural beauty of our current foreign surroundings and the scene looking towards the sea, cascading mountains and the lights of buildings dotted around view. Everyone was taking pictures. We arrived at a quaint campsite within a valley, just as the sun set and the light in the valley suddenly vanishes behind the overhanging mountain. Everyone gathered into the main hall to be assigned our rooms, there was a bit of tension before this as there’s worry around bunking with total strangers (not everyone has been to a hostel I guess). I got a lodge with Flávio, Vasco and Márcio some awesome dudes from Portugal, proper laugh, sick at cards.

We kicked off our second day with a bang, some initial ice breakers in the main hall to begin our Dragon Dreaming course, a hilarious game of drawing one another … collectively, as in 30 seconds each and the outcome being a communal picture. To symbolise collective intelligence. After the introduction to the course we all took a trip to the local town Ramales and La Cuaves Cullalvera – a huge megalithic cave.

Me in the huge cave

The brilliance of the holistic learning process was that you got out as much as you put in, nothing was forced or pushed upon you and you did everything completely of your own volition, in fact the cultural city tours weren’t even mandatory so the French lads and I took the opportunity to climb the Pyrenees  (Okay just the mountain overlooking the campsite but it’s in the range).  The view from the summit was beyond breath-taking.

Along the next 9 days we learnt skills for planning projects and envisioning the effects a project would have on oneself, the community and the environment. The holistic teaching approach to this course was a new one to me but by no means was it not as enlightening.

In the 10 days we spent in Cantabria, Spain we visited some beautiful Spanish cities, a cheese factory, an Alpaca farm, made some friends, some memories, we got a chance to learn about one another’s countries and cultures with a group presentation. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Lithuanian folk Dancing. A few of us even went to hunt for ghosts in the woods after a few shared scary stories; We didn’t find any ghosts but we did find an owl which is just as cool.
The chance to be abroad, exploring and embracing a different culture along with other people also doing the same but from a different perspective was a real privilege.

All in all, quite the adventure and I would definitely recommend any Erasmus+ programme if it is available to you.