Experiences in the Erasmus+ program never stop surprising me. Each of them is special in its way, keeping me on a path to further my discovery. Right at the passing between summer and autumn, I traveled to Bucharest to take part in an international training course. It was hosted within the Erasmus+ program. With the experience gathered over two years of exploring this program, this course opportunity came as a chance to upgrade my project writing skills, discover more about the program’s framework, and move forward with my career in international projects.

 I’ve always heard amazing stories about Erasmus+ training. I also got advice from actors involved in International Projects, especially from my mentor in the organization that I work in, EIVA. Thanks to his advice and support, I had the chance to finally live with mine. So, if you are someone who wishes to involve in the world of Erasmus+ looking for some information on how to start and what steps to follow to write projects, this article is for you.

About the Erasmus+ international training course 

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The first step First was an international training course offered by the Erasmus+ program. It was designed for members of organizations active in vocational education and training, Adult education, and School education. The course’s main aim was to teach its participants the steps to write a successful application and bring them together, such as in a classic contact-making seminar. The focus priority tackled throughout the training course was the inclusion in Education in Europe. 

When an organization wishes to be involved in the Erasmus+ program for the first time as a newcomer, the opportunity for them is called Small-Scale Partnership Projects.

Small-scale partnership projects

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Those small-scale partnership projects, also called KA2 partnerships for cooperation are short-term projects that can be initiated by a minimum of two organizations or institutions designed to widen access to the program to small-scale actors, grassroots organizations, and less experienced organizations.

Their objectives are:

  •  to support the inclusion of target groups with fewer opportunities and overcome the different barriers that prevent the participation
  • Support active European citizenship and bring the European dimension to local levels
  • Increasing the quality of the work and practices of the organizations and institutions involved
  • Building the capacity of organizations to work transnationally and across sectors
  • To address priorities in the fields of education, training, youth, and sport
  • Enable transformational change leading to improvements

Eligibility criteria

The project opportunity is available for any public or private organization in Europe or established in a third country associated with the program. The entities have to be active in education, training, youth, sport, or other socio-economic sectors, as well as organizations carrying out transversal activities in different fields.

For more info about the small-scale partnership’s projects, check the Erasmus platform.

How to apply to Erasmus+ courses

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It is an easy process to identify and apply to training courses in the Erasmus+ program, either if you are a youth or an adult. While browsing through the Romanian erasmus+ platform, I found an open call for training, with the description of the course and the eligibility criteria. For applying to the course, I had to fill up a form containing around 5 questions. I described my previous experience in Erasmus+, the organization that I’m part of and why is it suitable for developing international projects, the type of small-scale partnerships we would like to implement, and present the ideas that I have regarding possible projects.

After applying, some days I received an e-mail confirmation saying that I was accepted and pre-departure information about the location, schedule, and tasks to do before departure. Everything was well organized, and the information helped me prepare for what was to come.

More about the international training course – Trainers, participants, involved countries 

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This international training course was held in a hotel in Bucharest, for a period of 3 days. It was facilitated by 6 experienced trainers with more than 10 years of work on international projects. We were 62 participants coming from Germany, Serbia, Romania, North Macedonia, Malta, Italy, Norway, Estonia, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, and Denmark

As all the participants came from either VET, school education, or adult education sectors, they were split into the 3 groups and assigned two trainers for the 3 days of activity. After being presented to each other, our trainers and agenda, and having our 1st common activities, we were sent to future groups formed by 20 participants.

One important activity we had throughout the international training course was the intercultural break. Every day during one break, each participant coming from one culture had to present it informally to the others. We spent our time listening to various songs, learning dances, and tasting local goods and drinks from all the 14 countries involved. This activity was a great way to help us discover the cultures of our colleagues and enjoy our time together as a multicultural team.

The structure of the course – Project writing strategy and steps

For those who do not know anything about the typical structure and methodologies used within the erasmus+ training, one important thing to know is that those are not focused on formal approaches, but mostly on non-formal and practical ones. 

The first part of our course hosted activities meant to help us get to know each other as individuals. Then, our professions, meaning to get us to get closer before we start the phase of learning. We had sessions with icebreakers and energizers that brought a great vibe and good motivation to start our learning process together.

Then, it was time for individual work from each participant. The activity consisted of creating a presentation of our organization, and exposing it in our workplace so that everyone has access to discover new potential partners. Each participant had to study each presentation, and observe who the ones suited to collaborate in the future, in different projects.

Getting into action – How to write a project proposal? – First step first

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On the 2nd day of the international training course, we started the beginning phase on how to write a project proposal. We were presented and given tools that would help us identify concrete details regarding the project idea that we will have. Those tools helped us understand what analyses have to be conducted before starting to fill in the application form. We also received relevant tips from the NA trainers regarding writing techniques and adequate vocabulary in writing project proposals.

 International training course – Group work in filling an application form

Right after this session, it was time for sketching topics and forming groups to work together using the tools that we received. I was in a group of 4 people, and our topic was Entrepreneurship education. Together, and with the new tools we discovered, we followed the steps in project writing for the next two days. It was a great experience to be able to work as a group, share our experience, and brainstorm ideas regarding identifying problems, solutions, topics of projects, objectives, activities, and outcomes. Then, all the groups had to present our work and received feedback from trainers, NAs, and other participants.

Wrapping up the project proposals and ending the session

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In this last part of our training, we focused on understanding how to develop the budget for Erasms+ projects, what the budget is supporting during a Small scale partnership project and how to allocate it responsibly for the activities we will host. Then, we talked about follow-up and dissemination activities, as well as their major importance to create an erasmus+ project. We learned what tools we can make use of to spread the project’s details locally, regionally, and internationally.

Before ending the training course, we had to do one more step. As outcomes are what prove that our project turns out to be successful, we had to put our minds to giving a measurable performance that leads to evidence that our project was thought out well, from the sketch to the end.

The last session of the international training course – Closing, evaluation, and close up

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At the end of the course, we went back to where we started. 62 participants, and 6 trainers, all gathered in a big conference room, ready to have our last meeting before departure. What was different now from the beginning was that we all gathered the pieces of lessons throughout these days and now, what wasn’t clear at all then, become clear and the process of writing could be started. 

Together, we had a moment to evaluate this course from many aspects, followed by a beautiful graduation moment. The power of non-formal education has shown itself one more time, living s with a memorable portrait of that FIRST STEP FIRST was. 

The participants formed bonds, which was another objective of this international training course. The teams that were formed, all with different topics and goals already decided on 20+ projects. In my case, I’ve worked with Luis Ageitos, the founder of the common one, a social enterprise that aims to empower entrepreneurs and small organizations to reduce inequality. Now, EIVA and the common ones are currently writing a Small Scale partnership project. The project aims to increase the number of young adults that engage in entrepreneurial opportunities.

Fears & expectations regarding the international training course

One big fear that I had before joining this international training course was the one that I couldn’t keep up with others while learning. As I was the youngest there, knowing that I will probably be less experienced in the chosen sector than others active for over 15 years, provoked a sense of anxiety, but also made me hustle and get determined to work more and make use of the time I have.

The course offered me much more than I could have expected to learn and practice writing an application form. It also offered me the opportunity to engage in 3 days meant for growing my level in aspects such as contact making and the development of partnerships. I had the chance to meet various actors involved in finding solutions to local, regional, and international problems. Furthermore, It was a reminder that I can do beautiful things.

Erasmus+ – changing lives, opening minds for 25 years

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I wanted to take up a new learning experience for the last 3 years, but I explored more and see what I want to do with my future and learned just by doing. After so much time, this international training course in Bucharest was the best summer-end activity, mixed with the pride of moving forward with my journey in international projects.

When people ask me to tell them what is the Erasmus+ program, I try to explain the moments I’ve lived. But they will only understand only when they take up their first learning experience. Until then, I’m here to write about it and show how the program helped me, and teach others how to take the steps to start their journey.