Europe, Learning, Network

Trainer Panagiotis Mamouzakis

If you think about the Erasmus+ programme which three words associate with it?

Europe, Learning, Network (social and professional)

What benefits and drawbacks do you see of the Erasmus programme?

Unavoidably Erasmus is bringing people born in different countries closer. This allows
countries, stereotypes, beliefs, habits, learning, borders, ideas to come closer. The process is not easy and it can bring up friction among its peers. Still, in the long run, I see it as a process for common values, equal rights and access to education.

What is most important to you in non-formal education environment?

In non-formal education, there is no expected learning output. The learner is learning to learn and gets what he wants, can, need is capable of learning. There is no expected output only a focus. In few words, it is a democratic learning, a learning that is coming out of own initiative or not from the learner. The one who is providing non-formal education is basically providing an environment where this learning will take place.

What, in your opinion, is the crucial character trait to have as a trainer?

When I am involved in a learning activity I work with a basic principle. “Everyone is capable of solving themselves his own troubles and chooses how to do it”. My role as a facilitator/trainer is to create a safe context where the trainee finds for themselves the most suitable way to learn, to grow, to resolve own issues. In other words, I find very important for every trainer to leave space for the trainees to bring personal accountability in their learning process.

Why did you choose to become a trainer? Has your scout experience had any influence?

Since 1999 I started working with people. I found joy into involving my self firstly in youth work and later (2003) in trainings. Both experiences, youth work & trainings came up through my experience in Scouts of Greece. For years till today, I offer my services in Scouts of Greece through several different ways and positions. For more than 10 years I was leading a high-school-aged group of youngsters and for 14 years now I support trainings for adult scout leaders. All this experience gave me competencies and skills that could support me in creating a professional portfolio. Additionally, in 2012 I moved to the Netherlands, working for a training organization named Olde Vechte Foundation and there for 4 years I further develop myself as a trainer. In the beginning as volunteer and throughout the years I managed to create my passion, working with people, to a profession by gaining more experiences by given space and opportunities, as well
as, skills and competencies important for a professional trainer.

What is the biggest challenge for you as a trainer with a big group of 35 people?

This is a very funny question. The question itself reveals the answer… Being a trainer along with a group of 35 people was the biggest challenge for me. Especially for the first days of the training for me was a huge challenge to create a context for learning. In the beginning of the training my focus was to give tools and approaches for the traineeship to the other 35 trainers. As the training was developing I was creating more and more space for them to start delivering activities until the point that they took over completely the program of the training one day before this finishes.
The challenge always comes with learning, therefore during this activity, I had the chance to put in practice my basic principal as a trainer mentioned above. To work beyond judgement and create a space between what I wanted that the participants’ learn from what they wanted to learn themselves. Having the space to practice this principle and training myself into that was my biggest learning out of OPEN Education training…

What activities of the training benefited you the most?

It is very difficult for me to answer what activities of the training benefited me the most. When I develop a training I find everything important: preparation before the training,
welcoming, program flow, accommodation, meals, free time, leisure time activities, informal conversations and everything around it. Still, I find this training as a big success and a milestone in my trainers’ career, given the prior mentioned challenge. Additionally, the level of experience within the trainers participating was tremendous thus I had to create space that this experience is shared the most efficient way amongst the other learning peers. It is definitely a training program that I would like to repeat and develop in future instances.

Looking back now, would you have done anything differently during the “OPEN Education” training?

Let’s leave past where it is and think about the future. For this reason, I wouldn’t change anything in OPEN Education training. OPEN Education was a complete experience that as I already shared stands as a big success for me. Still, when it gets to assessment and evaluation of the activity, of course, I got valuable feedback and I am planning to feed forward it in the next instance that I will be called to create a similar activity.
Looking at my notes on what I want to implement in the next training for trainers I will develop I would like to share few of them:
● Having a small team of co-trainers who facilitate and mentor small trainers’/reflection groups.
● Using more activities that involve body movement
● Giving homework at the end of the day for further informal learning
● Communicating the training in an appealing way that can attract a target group of people committed to learning that is interested in self-organized learning systems.

What is your goal as a trainer?

Well, my goal as a trainer is also my goal as a person. Being a trainer/facilitator/coach/youth worker or whatever else title I put on myself, the goal is one. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which title I put for myself. Anyhow, I love what I do for my living and I live to do what I love. My mission in this life is to support others to create a self-empowering & fulfilling context in their lives. My work, my personal and professional choices and my career are driven by this mission. I am always grateful when opportunities such as the OPEN Education training are coming on my pathway. I find them as a pivot that I can put my mission to action and this is
bringing self-fulfilment for myself and make me feel I live purposefully.

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OPEN Education: Outcomes

As the outcome of the project, we created an informative guidebook. In the material below you will be able to find tools and the best moments from the project.

The aim is to present some useful tools to use in work with young people and increase their skills on teamwork, understanding differences and similarities, coaching, developing training course.

Click here to find the guidebook here: Open Education guide and the assessment can be accessed here: Open Education analysis report.

For more information please contact us at info@dorea.org

Inclusive Education

Name, Surname: Radu Vasile

Country: Romania

If you think about the Erasmus+ programme which three words associate with it?

Collaboration and Evolution.

What benefits and drawbacks do you see of the Erasmus programme?

Benefits – that you can meet a lot of people from different culture and you can learn informally from them. Also, if you have few opportunities or no opportunities at all you can go to financed projects to learn a lot of things, to get a lot of competences and after you can use these competencies to improve the quality of your life. As for throwbacks, there are a lot of them, because there are no verifications to see if the projects are really relevant or if they have a big impact. For this reason, there is a lot of free travelling in this programme for people that don’t need such things like free travelling but they take advantage of the programme.

What is most important to you in non-formal education environment?

It is important to me that you can learn at your own pace and you can learn by yourself. No one is imposing, forcing you to learn something, telling you that you will need that after 20 years. Also, in non-formal education, you choose what to learn and you learn what you need now. Furthermore, non-formal education could be fun, but this is not the main point because a lot of people now take non-formal education as a funny thing, more than educational, and that is a bad direction.

What positive and negative sides do you see of this training course?

Starting from positive sides – it involved me a lot. Put me in several situations I’ve never been before and for that reason, I had to develop a new mechanism. Also, the trainer was an experience one, during the trainer and even after the training hours you can receive a lot of good information, new perspectives and a lot of experienced insights from him. It I great that we can approach the trainer after the training hours and have an informal discussion with him and share. Another positive thing was, that this training included all types of people in the group of participants, even me. I have a visual impairment and I felt very included in this group and all the staff from Dorea helped me a lot to be part of this.

The bad part was that I felt that this project’s promotion was in some kind wrong direction. For this reason, some people being here had some expectations that were not achieved, but I can’t speak for them. Also, it was not clear what methodology would be used, for this reason, again, even I, in the beginning, expected the trainer to be as a teacher, to give us a direction, feedback, to tell us what to pay attention to, where to look, or something like this and it wasn’t like that. In the beginning, I was: “Okay, what’s happening here? I want to know if I’ve done okay if I’ve done wrong.” But after that, I discovered that I can go and ask for that. Whenever I wanted a feedback I went to the trainer and asked for my feedback. But other people simply stopped and complained about the fact that they don’t have any feedback and do nothing about it.

So, in the end, I was very happy with this methodology when I discovered that I can ask for what I want to know.

Do you feel lack of inclusion? How can that be improved?

As I had no attendant, it was a challenge for me. I am the first time in my life in a foreign country without an attendant. I was challenged to do something and feel how it is to be part of a group without an attendant. In the end, the experience was great. It was interesting to me that all the group worked to help me. Also, it was interesting that on the first night my roommates told me that, “Okay, it is not our business to help you. It is Dorea’s business, they’re the organizer, go talk to them, to help you.” After that, there were 2 people from Latvia, who had a little bit of experience before with blind persons and they took the responsibility to help me. After their example, the group followed, even the Romanian mates. So, in the end, the inclusion was quite perfect, due to the DOREA openness to allow me to be here and the community power.

 What, in your opinion, is the crucial character trait to have as a trainer?

For my opinion, there are 3 things to have as a trainer. First is knowledge, because if you don’t have the knowledge you have not what to train, what to deliver, what to pass to the others. Another characteristic is to have communication skills because you must know how to react in the current context and how to work with a group of people. The third thing is to have some kind of open mind and to have some kind self-confidence, self-esteem because as a trainer you can receive bad comments. But you must know that those bad comments aren’t about you but about something you’ve done or maybe something that is in the mind of the person that made the comment. And you must fulfil that need because under the comment is a need and pay attention to that. If not, you will take it personally and instead of solving the need of the person throwing the comment you start arguing and defending yourself and that is not the way.

What activities of the training benefited you the most?

First, I liked them, I already said that. Second, I liked the activities we have done Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They involved more working on our part and it was quite interesting to build them and to deliver them, to be in a trainer role. Also, I liked very much that we were split into groups and worked a lot of time in groups. It doesn’t matter if in our training group or in temporary groups made for that activity. Also, I liked the activities where we were outside. So, we had the freedom where to work, when to work with a lot of time frame to work. And to get back in the conference room and present the results of our work. So, let’s say it wasn’t conference type of training- staying in a room, do stuff, listen to the trainer and something like this.

Games, games, games!

The participants started the day by recapping and discussing activities from previous days. They reflected on how focus and attitude are important and the benefits of the communication styles. How as a trainer it is useful to understand and use the four styles of communication to your advantage. Later in the day, the participants of the training course were divided into 2 big groups. The task included trainers working in pairs within those groups to think of a game, provide instructions to the rest of the group an after stating the purpose execute the game. Participants came up with various simple, yet interesting games, including the trust-fall game. Persons stood in pairs and had to trust their partner while falling back into their arms. It was especially noted to keep in mind the feeling while falling. The game even evolved into a 3-person game, where the person in the middle was falling both towards and backwards between the two-people standing behind and in front.

Other games included the “One sentence story” and even giving a massage while “making” a pizza on others’ back. The participants had to stand in a circle and while “making” the pizza ingredient by ingredient they were acting out the movements of putting the ingredients on the pizza with their hands creating a massage-like feeling. At the same time, they were learning the Italian names for each ingredient. After each game, the pairs received feedback, compliments and possible improvements. The games were upgraded after lunch and polished while playing them again but with just as much enjoyment.