When I found myself attending the first meeting, I realised how much there still was to learn…about learning. I was sitting around a big meeting table with colleagues – most 10+ years older than me, discussing the EVS training framework for South-East Europe. Before we even got to discussing what the training cycle should be composed of, we spent nearly a day discussing approaches to learning in its many aspects: learning to learn, reflection, and recognition of learning. This all seemed very complicated to me back then. There was a point when I thought to myself that I should just pack my bags and go, but it was the patience of my colleagues and their encouragement that led me to stay.
I realised that the SALTO journey is long, where the SALTO network not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk when it comes to non-formal learning and inclusion. Despite my relative lack of experience in early days of my work with SALTO, I have always felt that my views are taken into consideration and that I can meaningfully contribute to building something new.
I remember how when SALTO South-East Europe identified their first generation of local contacts, trainers, and multipliers in the region, most of us were quite young – in our early twenties, but we grew up with the SALTO network, and became more confident and competent. We learnt from each other and helped each other out.
SALTO was a real lifeline during a time when there were no (Youth in Action/Erasmus+) National Agencies in the region, and the Programme Guide offered very little detail.
We consider this the norm in the youth sector today, but it was not always so, and I think SALTO had a key role in this. Taking these values back to the youth field across South-East Europe, helped us – youth workers and trainers from South-East Europe, to improve the quality of youth work and youth mobility for young people in the region. It also helped us to become a real community that can sustain itself and help others, and that’s what I really value in SALTO.