The project "Xpressions" was a mobility project addressing youth workers, trainers, youth leaders, young multipliers and other stakeholders active in the field of youth. The diversity of the partner organisations, representing Finland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy and Romania fostered intercultural understanding and developed the participants' communication competences. The training course took place in Münster, Germany from 3rd to 7th May 2017.
Participants of Xpressions learnt about digital photo techniques (by using their own smartphones) and about the method of participatory photography. Besides, they shared with each other their professional and personal experiences of approaching young people in a successful manner. Undeniably, after the training course, participants will share their newly gained knowledge within their local communities and develop their digital toolkits. To be as effective as possible, the participants were working in smaller groups to carry out their own photo projects.
What do participants from so many different countries (Romania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Finland, Hungary and Germany) have in common? They have created a beautiful photo exhibition during Xpressions project. Two things – social issues and participatory photography; those were the main objectives of the project. After some energizers and getting to know each other better, the groups started brainstorming. They shared what are their expectations from the project and how they can contribute with their own personal experience into the work. Together, the definition of participatory photography has been created.
As the participants of my group have various and strong characters, the brainstorming process was a challenge for me. The energy they've been creating was unbelievable. We had so many ideas that we didn't actually know which one to choose. We decided to combine all of them and create a collage. A collage of personalities, cultures and expressions. - one of the trainers emphasizes.
Eyes, lips, noses, wrinkles on your forehead when you smile – this is what you notice first when you see a person. Do you already create a prejudice about them? That was the question the participants wanted to answer by creating a collage of faces of the active citizens of the world who agreed they have one thing in common – they are people, human beings who share the same activities – they think, they feel and they decide about their lives no matter the skin colour or the religion.
It was a beautiful experience for me to take part in this project. It was interesting to learn about media and broaden my knowledge of how to take good photos. The discussions were interesting and efficient. Bennohaus is really great place with the whole equipment which we could have used during our project. And the city! Münster is amazing – I will never forget so many people with bikes!, Hamza Ouerrat, a participant from Italy admits.
Romania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Finland, Hungary and Germany. How can different participants from all these diverse background represent something so general and, at the same time, so personal as emotions and expressions? After checking and learning some tricks how to get, let´s say, nicer pictures, the groups went for a walk around different parts of Münster: Haven, the Old Town and the principal cathedral Lambertikirche. They were looking for some inspiration. At the early beginning of a Friday morning, the port was empty. And that loneliness helped the participants to internalize better their emotions.
I just realize Münster, as a city, is part of the society and lifestyle. There are eyes all around, looking at us, different looks that give personality to the city, Dániel Kenéz, participant from Hungary affirms.
After a while, during the lunch break, trainers and participants sat together and shared their impressions. At the beginning, participants were more focused on nature, reporting different aspects of the society, impressed by the buildings of Münster, but after talking and debating about what they can show on their photographies, the whole group realized the pictures should be a personal work, focus on themselves as human beings and part of the society.
The final result, personal photos full of details and meaning of each participant, showing how unique we are. It was a good exercise because during the shooting, we learn even more about our colleges, learning some personal details that we do not like, like a nose, or our lips. And we share these feelings all together, this is why we add some texts behind each picture, explaining or giving some bases to understand even more the meaning of each photo and, of course, about ourselves - the trainer explains - One of my favourite quotes was ´I remember seeing leaves on the trees for the first time´. Of course it is a nice sentence, but when participant explained that she was describing the first moment she wore her glasses, and since that moment, glasses are part of her; her photo was even more value.
Five individual photos showing some moles on a face, a smile or a smile. Five photos surrounding a group picture with some of the participants and a trainer together. And each of them is doing something different: covering their face, smiling, or looking to somewhere else. “With this picture we try to say that we are all one, we are like a family together, even if a few days ago we didn´t know us. We are part of something bigger than us, we are human beings even if our hair is different, or our skin, or our passport. We are all one”, one participant says. And this is “Xpressions”: people as people, as a group, but each of us with our own personality, background, fears and dreams.
The project is supported by the European Union's Erasmus + Programme.
Sabela González García