From 14 to 22 October, the youth conference “CRITICAL THINKING – HEALTHY FOOD FOR YOUR MIND”, funded by the European Commission ERASMUS+, took place in Varlas Plage (France). The project involved young people from six countries: France, Russia, Latvia, Belarus, Poland and Ukraine.

For 8 days, 36 young people created a friendly, intercultural, close-knit team, where everyone was comfortable working. The topic of the conference was Critical Thinking. The main objectives of this conference are to create intercultural dialogue and exchange of experience in the development of critical thinking and media literacy among young people. Moreover, the use of non-formal education tools allowed each participant of the conference to acquire new skills for themselves. In their free time, the participants discussed ideas for future joint projects for young people.

After the equator of the project, the participants visited the neighboring city of Agd, where they immersed themselves in the maritime culture of France. We tasted shellfish, snails, shrimp, mussels. And finally, we enjoyed the coast of the Balearic Sea.

A feature of this conference was the preparation of food at all by the participants themselves. Every day, an international team of 3-4 people prepared meals for two meals – lunch and dinner. Thanks to this distribution of labor, the participants had more opportunity to get acquainted with the peculiarities of a particular culture in everyday life.

At the end of one of the days, a national evening was arranged. By tradition, the participants treated each other to national food, introduced them to their culture through dances and songs. In general, such events are a great opportunity to learn about the culture of the country, historical facts and features of modern life.

In the last two days of the project, the guys were puzzled by the preparation of creative posters, audio, theatrical shows on the topic of the project. The completion of the project was summing up of the results. The guys returned to their countries with new thoughts, knowledge and contacts of friends from 6 countries.

Feedback from conference participants from Russia:

Ivan: “I’m glad I took part in this project, because for me it was a strong impetus for self-development. It was interesting to see France (Paris in particular), to notice the beautiful architecture, to see the sights alive. Every day we had development events dedicated to critical thinking. But the most important thing was the other people on the project. I am delighted at how open they can be to the world. For me, communication with the rest of the participants played a key role in this project and made it memorable.

Irina: “A chance to look at things from a different angle. The project in which I was lucky enough to participate was organised as part of the Skepsis movement, aimed primarily at educating young people about critical thinking and media literacy. The value of this youth exchange was that it was not the trained speakers who shared their own knowledge and experience, but young people from different countries who did a really big job in preparing the training. In addition to the theoretical basis for critical thinking, each of us had the opportunity to acquire soft skills that are so necessary today for self-expression in any field of activity. In my opinion, such youth exchanges, apart from the stated goal, always have one more goal – the cooperation of young people as potential leaders, activists and public figures who will be able to dispel the stereotypical thinking about foreigners that dominates our society. Of course, the organisers have achieved each of these goals. Already now, after the completion of the project, I would like to thank “Support” and “LOGOS” for the opportunity to become part of the movement and further spread its ideas.

Timofey: “I was quickly and pleasantly surprised with how friendly everyone was, and realized that everything would be good. Being that my major is international relations, I found all of the workshops to be extremely valid and helpful. Among the issues addressed were skepticism in news and media, media analysis, critical and objective thinking, and recognition of logical fallacies. As far as my schooling is concerned, these will be things that I will take with me all the way to my diploma. All in all, I feel like this was a great experience, I ended up learning a lot about myself, about the world outside of where I live, met great people, and made lifelong connections.”