It was not part of a grand plan of any kind; I just wanted to travel and discover other countries, not learn about EU programmes. With every project I eventually got another piece of the puzzle and started to understand more about European youth co-operation. A friend of mine was a SALTO trainer at the time, and he told me it may be a good idea to join the SALTO training of trainers. Even though I was not accepted, it was how I discovered the SALTO website, and started learning about the various opportunities offered.
In 2012, I finally applied for the ‘Go Green’ long-term course on sustainable development and was accepted. This was a real eye-opener, both in terms of the topic and the approach. I felt that sustainable development is an interesting topic that could have a lot of useful applications in youth work and precisely beneficial to our local youth community. I was also impressed with how devoted Federica and Bernard were to their work and how much they knew about what was going on in the region.
The Go Green project was a great experience. It was a long-term training with one event in Tunisia and another in Georgia. As a result, many strong international friendships and networks were built – many of which are still ongoing. The organisation I worked with back then – Waseela for Training and Development – developed and delivered many local programmes for youth using non-formal learning methods. Waseela also collaborated with partners from near and far, including Tunisia, Italy, Austria, Spain, Moldova, Georgia, and Russia. This was a big step in international cooperation for a local grass-root youth organization
Back in 2016-2018, when SALTO EuroMed was being restructured, many organisations and individuals needed to continue working on the ground without the necessary support. This led to many disagreements and painful discussions. There were opportunities lost in terms of youth work in the region, however because the community knew the importance of the work done in the field, we managed to sustain the partnership during these difficult times. Ultimately, it was the strength of the community, not the institution, that helped us to get through this, but it wasn’t without cost.
After a few international youth work experiences I decided to become professionally involved in education and youth work and gave up my career in engineering. Over the years, SALTO allowed me to play different roles related to youth work and learning. Most recently, as I realised I can also share these experiences through research and evaluation, I was involved in a number of research assignments for SALTO.
For me, SALTO (EuroMed) is essentially three things. Firstly, it is the Region; bringing together countries and communities in North Africa and the Middle East. Secondly, SALTO is about Learning; helping me and others to push the boundaries of our comfort zones. Finally, SALTO means Community – it is a great global support bubble in difficult times.