1. What are Erasmus + and European Solidarity Corps programmes and what is the difference between them?
The Erasmus+ programme as well as European Solidarity Corps are both financed by the European Commission and they aim to improve young people’s skills and increase employment opportunities, as well as provide up-to-date education, training and youth work. They provide a wide range of opportunities for youth to experience learning mobility and non-formal education in Europe and beyond. They help youth workers develop their interpersonal skills and improve their employment prospects through training and networking opportunities in Europe and other neighboring countries. The projects often include building tolerance, understanding and accepting society, social exclusion vs. social inclusion, anti-discrimination, fighting unemployment, active citizenship, cultural diversity, and multicultural learning. The Erasmus+ programme provides youth exchanges, training courses, mobility projects for youth workers, scholarships for students to study abroad and grants for scientific work. The European Solidarity Corps programme focuses primarily on short and long-term volunteering projects (ESC) which also tocuh the same topics as mentioned above. Our organization focuses primarily on ESC, youth exchanges, seminars, training courses, study visits, and networking seminars.
2. What is non-formal education?
Non-formal education is becoming more and more popular. It is an enriching and collaborative way of learning from your own experiences and the experiences of other people through different workshops, simulation games, brainstorming, debate sessions, and teamwork activities. It is a voluntary learning experience that does not place assessment as the highest priority. It takes place in different environments and situations in which you do not necessarily need to be well-prepared or have any previous knowledge. These environments and situations may be temporary. Activities or courses that take place may be facilitated by professional trainers or by youth leaders. The activities and courses are planned beforehand, but are seldom structured by conventional rhythms or curricular subjects. They usually address specific target groups, but rarely document or assess learning outcomes or achievements in a conventionally visible way.
3. Is there any age limit for participation in Erasmus+ projects?
In order to participate in an international youth exchange or ESC programme abroad you need to be at least 18 years old and not older than 30 years old when the project begins. Sometimes, there are youth exchanges with target groups between 13 - 20 years old and in such cases, participants should be at least 13 years old. Group leaders can be of any age. There is no age limit for participation in training courses, seminars, networking activities, or study visits.
4. How does the funding work?
All the accommodation and food costs are fully covered by the European Commission. All you need to do is to buy your round-trip ticket for the project. Later you will get a 100% reimbursement of your travel costs. Nevertheless, remember that you need to stay within the budget, which depends on the distance to the country where the project takes place. To get reimbursed, you must provide proof of your expenditures - you will need to provide the organizers with receipts, tickets, and boarding passes. If you lose your tickets or cannot prove the ticket is yours, it can become an obstacle for receiving your travel reimbursement. Sometimes tickets can be purchased by either the hosting organization or our organization in case there is a specific route that we or our partners think our participants should follow. We usually prefer and advise our participants to use eco-friendly means of transport and to travel together in groups. Also, sometimes hosting organizations ask for an extra participation fee because of the low budget. This information is usually provided beforehand.
5. Will I get assistance in applying for my visa?
Our partner hosting organizations provide invitation letters for participants and we provide the document for the embassy that confirms your membership and participation in a specific project. However, you should take care of all other required documents for obtaining a visa yourself. The list of all the necessary documents can be found on the websites of certain embassies where the projects will take place. Projects under Erasmus+ or European Solidarity Corps fall under education and are financed by the European Commission. That is why you do not need to pay for your visa. Albeit, some embassies require these costs and in such cases individual payment will be required. Sometimes, reimbursement of the visa cost is included in the budget, but it should be confirmed with the organizers of the project beforehand in order to avoid misunderstandings. The same goes for those costs that you need to spend in order to travel to the embassy if it is situated in another city.
6. I still do not have my international passport or it expires soon. Can I apply?
No. Please make sure that when you fill in an application form for a certain project, you have a valid passport for international travelling with the required number of free pages.