The 5th International EuroPeers Network Meeting took place in Utrecht from the 9th to the 13th of October.

EuroPeers from different countries participated in the meeting, as well as the new European Solidarity Network, the European Commission and the National Agencies for Erasmus+. We were happy to see representatives from Italy, France, and Austria who are in the process of starting their
own national EuroPeers networks.

It was great to hear many stories about how volunteering in a different country has changed many people’s lives, for example by encouraging them to move abroad long-term (which is exactly what also happened to me after my EVS). It was inspiring to come together with 73 other people who are passionate about encouraging more young people to experience these international opportunities.

Talking to someone who has taken part in a European youth mobility project always gives me a feeling of mutual understanding, as it is such an important life experience that can’t quite compare to anything else. And at the same time, each person has a completely different experience at the end. All three trainers and the main organiser of the meeting had taken part in the European Voluntary Service in the past, so they, too, understand this feeling.

This year, the international network meeting was one day longer than usual, so we managed to do a lot – from workshops on project management, public speaking, and drama, to a world café, a dance choreography and a quiz about the European Solidarity Corps. Ellie and I ran a workshop on filmmaking and we recorded a few video interviews about the international experiences in our networks. Moreover, the German EuroPeers introduced us to how we can incorporate our activities into Geocaching by making and hiding our own Eurocaches. And we started planning transnational activities for next year, including a Photomarathon and a workshop at the European Youth Event in Strasbourg.

All in all, the international network meeting in Utrecht was an amazing opportunity to get to connect to other people who have had similar international experiences. Running the meeting for one more day than usual was definitely worth it. The organisers did an incredible job bringing so many people together and keeping the balance between fun and work. It inspired me to see the enthusiasm and ideas of the others and I think we used the time well to look beyond national limitations and instead got to know network members from other countries who face different realities. I loved being able to talk to so many people about my EVS who could relate to my experiences. I am optimistic about the next few months to come.

By Alexandra