On the 5th of April 2019, 30 young people from 6 different European countries gathered together in the seaside town of Praiano on the Amalfi Coast. Why did they travel to this remote but beautiful part of the world? It wasn’t just for the stunning views, gelato and sunshine but to take part in the Erasmus+ youth exchange “Make it local”.
So what was ‘Make it Local’ all about? Well, as the name suggests, the aim was to draw attention to the importance of local products, encouraging participants to research and share a traditional product form their country. There was also a strong focus on sustainability and the impact that we all have on the economy of local products.
The project was organised by the Commune di Praiano, who did a fantastic job of making sure that everyone felt at home, together with ACARBIO. As mentioned, the project involved 6 different countries, the partners were; The Zditovo secondary school in Belarus, Asociacion viaje a la sostenibilidad in Spain, Institutol de Instruire in Dezvoltare Millenium in Moldova, Asociatia de Tineri Din Ardeal in Romania and MI Sumy Specialized School in Ukraine.
The main goal of the project was to share traditional knowledge about a local product from each country, this was done through a workshop. Each day saw the turn of a new country who would give a step by step demonstration on how to make their product, with all of the participants being involved.
From Spain we had ‘jabon casero’ (homemade soap) made with olive oil and other scented ingredients such as; essential oils, coffee and rosemary. During this workshop we learnt a great way to make use of used cooking oils.
Kürtőskalács (chimney cake) was the local product presented by Romania, a sugary pastry desert which is cooked on an open fire.
The Ukranian team showed us how to make their traditional food called Varenyky, a potato filled dumpling typically eaten with onions and sour cream.
The next workshop was from Moldova, they gave a presentation on the Moldovan carpets and showed us how to make our own versions using paper. They practiced the traditional weaving techniques.
From Italy we had two different activities; one involved local women from the town of Praiano demonstrated the exquisite art of Tombolo (a traditional style of making lace). The next was the delicious Migliaccio Salato (a pasta dish with meat and cheese).
Finally, the Belarusian group taught us how to make Draniki which is like a fried pancake made of potato. There was even a competition for the longest potato peel.
But it wasn’t all work(shop) and no play, every evening we enjoyed a cultural night in which each country had the chance to show us some of their most loved traditions. There was music shared, dances practiced, sweets scoffed and delicacies tasted. This exploration of cultures was extremely special, with all of us noticing the differences between our countries but, more than anything, the similarities.
In between the many workshops and cultural parties, there were other activities designed to challenge the participants knowledge acquired and their ability to think deeper into the subject. They also had the chance to test out their entrepreneurship skills when asked to create a start-up business around one local product. The outcomes of which were very inspiring. The group also engaged in daily reflections which allowed the team to track their progress and ensure that everything was running smoothly.
On the final day there was a fair hosted in the main square of Praiano, during which each country showcased their local product to people from the town. It was a bittersweet end to the intense 10 day exchange of wisdom, ideas, creativity and ultimately friendship.
It’s safe to say that the project was a success. The participants demonstrated how they had enriched their knowledge of the current situation of local products, both in their own regions and other countries. They also showed great enthusiasm and motivation to return home and continue to work on the subject, whether it be changing their own consumption habits or working on their own projects. One of the key results of the project was the development of a brochure which detailed the product from each country including; ingredients and instructions, this allows to preserve the experience.
The group were so warmly welcomed by the local community in Praiano, they got many of the locals from artists to pottery makers. The hospitality received from Don Luigi, who kindly offered the church of San Luca as the location for our daily activities, for which we are very grateful.
Thank you to the participants for all of their hard work in the workshops, showing interest and enthusiasm in the activities and being motivated to take their new-found knowledge to make an impact in the world!