Our lovely group at the training venue in Utrecht

It’s been nearly a week since we returned from Utrecht for the 5th EuroPeers Network Meeting and I’m still coming down from it. I miss the people, the place and the intensity of it. I’m neutral to the small amount of sleep and persistent rain. 

As it was my first international network meeting I had had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be a pretty fabulous gathering of international EuroPeers, EuSN members (an up-and-coming community of young people with European Solidarity Corps experience), European Commission representatives and National Agencies. A rare opportunity to all be in the same room, brought together by our shared belief in the value of international experiences and there to exchange ideas, practices and energy. 

There was the option to share our skills. EuroPeers from Germany shared their cool Eurocache initiative (think Geocaching but with Erasmus+ leaflets). We all created our own in the session with thought to take them back to our countries. Now Morecambe is not only on the map for potted shrimps, but also proudly home to the first Eurocache in the UK. 

Post-geocaching, we (EuroPeers UK) sprang into action by holding a filmmaking workshop. We shared our interest with the aim to encourage those new to filmmaking to “tell their European story” and any other creation that they had been quietly considering. There was also a colourful array of other workshops going on simultaneously. 

One of Utrecht’s canals…

Later on, the experts were drafted in for sessions on project management, creative digital media, and public speaking. Careful to avoid any form of public speaking, I attended the project management session where I was exposed as unorganised. It was incredibly valuable and offered a new perspective on approaching projects (in a sentence: start at the end/with the impact and work backwards – naturally.) 

The evenings were perfectly chaotic as we experienced an assortment of music, drank beer in church and followed the light on a walking tour. Our playing hard was matched with working hard. As the meeting progressed we began to generate tangible outcomes, time was dedicated to open spaces that allowed for brainstorming, discussion, and future planning. These initiatives are already in progress. 

EuroPeers UK delegation

Too soon it came to a close, although I’m not exactly sure how much longer I could have sustained running on 87% caffeine. My network has expanded and feels much more alive. Furthermore, these future plans and the people involved fill me with optimism for the future of the EuroPeers network. It was a privilege to be involved and share the experience with such wonderful humans. I will stop typing before I reach a Gouda level of cheesiness but overwhelmingly thank you to all! 

by Ellie