Erasmus blogs, Uncategorized

Alternative Ways of Teaching and Storytelling in Education

Storytelling in Education

As part of the “Creativity for Innovation“ project, we visited the Storytelling Centre in Amsterdam together with our colleagues from the Europass Teacher Academy, who were also also partners in the project.

The aim of the project was to strengthen the organisations involved in adult education and alternative methods of teaching, storytelling and creative writing. The workshops were held by trainers from the Storytelling Centre in the Netherlands.

What is storytelling and how can this skill help us in teaching?

How to apply the ancient skill of storytelling as a means of teaching and progress was one of the questions our educators were posed during this workshop.

Telling stories is one of the oldest human characteristics. The Storytelling Centre says that applying this skill in education is the foundation of quality education. Sharing stories and creating stories together leads to stronger human connections, personal and professional growth, as well as successful learning and integration. We ourselves, as a team, witnessed growth and learning through applying storytelling techniques.

Our educator, Maria Grgić Skendrović, says:

“Thanks to the training I am able to delve deeper into our core materials and encourage our learners to give more complex ideas. One tool that I am going to incorporate is ‘the hero’s journey.’ With this tool, all educators can ask appropriate questions to encourage longer, more complex ideas in English.“

By applying various techniques, including the “Tree of Life“, we learnt how to do exercises in 5 phases, prompting storytelling on many levels:

1.Teambuilding

2. Creativity

3. Awareness

4. Telling stories

5. Evaluation

Our educator, Domagoj Biondić, says:

„The one thing I consider to be of most value to me is a simple fact that everything that was taught and given to us throughout the workshop was put into action and experienced immediately which added extra value to it and became a part of us. My personal favourite being, and mentioned earlier, Tree of Life"

Alternative Ways of Teaching

New teaching trends are interesting to experience. The educators at the Storytelling Centre focus on just that – experience which then leads to connections, openness, creativity, and most importantly, learning and growth. Lifelong education is definitely trending, but the main question is – how can we encourage adults to learn again? Can we learn in a fun and relaxed way, or is learning essentially a strict form of transferring and absorbing knowledge. We all know that it isn't so, because the process of learning itself is stressful, especially for e.g. marginalised groups, refugees, asylum seekers. People who are exposed to existential crises have it harder when it comes to concentrating and learning. That is exactly why the Alternative Ways site was developed, as it helps educators find a “different“ way. Alternative methods of teaching aren't complicated. They actually seem quite simple, and we essentially just have to remind ourselves of them. It brings back learning in a fun, relaxed and creative way. It provides us with experiential learning and relaxes us by teaching us through games. And when something is as easy as a game, then it really isn't that hard. This situational learning offers great opportunities for connecting and broadening minds, and most importantly, integration into society.

Our educator, Ivana Pezo, says:

„l have definitely learned how to be a better teamplayer, as a lot of playful games were introduced to us at the very beginning to make us feel comfortable with one another and not afraid of making mistakes, which I consider to be integral for every learning proccess. I instantly saw that as something I can apply in my teaching, relaxing students by connecting them. „

The whole process of learning through storytelling and using alternative methods of teaching is something that looks so simple, natural and easily applicable. The most interesting challenge was definitely the “Lego Game“, where you can actually see how challenging communication is. The whole process of sending and receiving a message is ambiguous. This is why these kinds of courses are perfect for developing awareness and the skill of telling stories, i.e.: communication and sending messages, which in our case is knowledge. All these newly-learnt skills definitely help with connecting and integrating students through language, and we have more success with the learning process, a.k.a. learning with pleasure!

Željka Novaković

✔ This project was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme.

Erasmus+ enriching lives, broadening minds.

🇪🇺@Agencija za mobilnost


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Uncategorized

We are never too old to start learning

Learning new things keeps our brains sharp. Keeping curious, active and thirsty for knowledge are traits we should all cultivate, and this is most important for senior citizens. Not only does it keep our brains alert, but we can meet new people through education, make new social contacts, and improve our overall psychosocial and emotional health. Education opens the door to new friendships, and travel gives us a new outlook on life.

That is exactly what happened at our school in Zagreb between the 11th and 15th of March when we organised a partnership meeting and training session as part of the European Senior Exchange project.

The aim of the training workshop was to introduce senior citizens to the Callan Method and improve their English language knowledge.

Partner organisations CDU Ljubljana and LudskaUniverza Kranja also attended, as well as the project holder, HIHTAST.

A total of 15 people participated in the workshop.

The first day was reserved for introductions. Our organisation introduced the Callan Method, as well as the whole array of work our organisation is involved in.

After getting familiar with the Callan Method, the participants were tested to determine their level of English knowledge and subsequently divided into groups, so that they were ready to learn English for 5 days.

Working with senior citizens is a pleasure on so many levels. The elderly are aware of their abilities and have experience with lifelong learning, which they can easily apply to language learning. The Callan Method itself enables learning to be easier, faster and, most importantly, focused on speaking – allowing students to communicate in English as easily and quickly as possible.

On Day One, we had already divided the participants into two groups – an advanced group and an advanced beginners group. As is the case with the Callan Method, teachers from various English-speaking countries took turns teaching their lessons. Participants were able to get to know teachers from Canada, South Africa and the UK. The Belgian participants were amazed that they could speak Dutch with our South African teacher J

Besides the Callan Method course, participants had a chance to learn digital skills, and they created their own collage using the PicCollage.com and Snapseed apps.

To provide our participants with a cultural experience, we prepared a Callan Method course for them in the Croatian language, as well as a pop quiz about Croatian culture.

Our teacher, Tamara, prepared a digital 'scavengehunt' for them, which lead the participants on an exploration of Zagreb using the Actionbound app. To participate in the digital tour, participants had to learn how to use the app with a QR codescanner, as well as the app itself. On top of that, participants had the task of discovering the wonders of Zagreb within a set time, competing to see who could solve the puzzles first.

We concluded the day with a cultural dinner at Medvedgrad Pub, where everyone had the opportunity to try traditional specialties and local beer.

On the last two days, we held our 'Talk Like A Native' workshop, and continued with leaning English.

On our last day, we enjoyed some Belgian chocolate and coffee, and had the evaluation.

In conclusion, we provided the senior citizens with a lifelong learning experience we will all cherish and remember!

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful week of learning and socialising!

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Projects

Erasmus+ Project – Intercultural Learning and Cultural Diversity

Firstly, I just have to say that my Erasmus+ Bologna experience was amazing, and I would thoroughly recommend that if you are ever given the opportunity to attend such a course to grab it with both hands.

From day one my colleagues and the staff were helpful, inciteful and understanding which only made the experience that much better. I also got the opportunity to explore Bologna and Florence which are both amazing cities with their own unique cultures and history.

Intercultural Learning and Cultural Diversity

As the title above suggests I attended a course on “Intercultural Learning and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom” and learnt a great number of skills and concepts that I hope I can one day implement in the school, the classroom and in my life in general. Some of these are:

  • The differences between “multicultural, “cross-cultural” and “intercultural”
  • The role of teachers and education in supporting students’ identities
  • How to break the vicious cycle of stereotypes
  • The link between culture and education and how we need to consider how culture influences the way we approach teaching as well as the way students interpret this approach
  • The importance of inclusion, membership, empathy in the classroom and outside it

Impressions of the Erasmus+ project

This course allowed me to grow as both a teacher and a person and has taught me the importance of acceptance, tolerance and understanding despite the differences that sometimes seem to divide us.

At the end of the day, we have more in common as human beings than might appear at first. It is just a matter of finding the similarities that connect us and seeing things from someone else’s point of view to gain a better understanding of them. A skill which anyone can learn with a bit of time and patience.

So, I’m looking forward to sharing the new knowledge I acquired on my Bologna adventure in a workshop I will be presenting to the staff and teachers at the school very soon.

I’m certain these new ideas and concepts can only benefit the school as a whole and create a better work and classroom environment for everyone.

Branimir Skračić


Project partners:

ELA: Erasmus Training Courses

The Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes

The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus+ Enriching lives, opening minds.

Check out our new eBook: 10 Tips for a successful KA1 Erasmus+ experience

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Projects

How to Implement the Callan Method in Your Teaching

There are some elements of the Callan method that can be incorporated into various teaching styles. Some of the most important elements are question-answer exercises, revision, and encouraging students to make mistakes.

Question-answer exercise

The teacher should prepare structured open questions to students, related to a topic (vocabulary) and grammar rule they are covering.

Then, the teacher calls out each student and asks the question. The student is expected to give the answer in full, using the learned vocabulary and grammar. If the student struggles, the teacher feeds them the answer, guiding them and supporting them in the learning. 

BENEFITS of the activity:

  1. Getting students to speak in the language they are learning, and being supported by the teacher, who, by correcting their mistakes, helps them learn the grammar, vocabulary, and correct pronunciation. 
  2. Giving each student equal speaking time in the classroom.
  3. Boosting students’ confidence.

Revision is key

Each class should start with revision of work from the previous class, and each class should finish with a revision of that day’s work. 

BENEFITS of the activity:

  1. The more you repeat something, the easier it is to remember.
  2. Students have more opportunity to learn. For example, if the first time they make a mistake in vocabulary, the second time in grammar, and the third time in pronunciation, by the fourth time they can perfect everything.

Making mistakes is encouraged

Mistakes are an essential part of learning, but fear of the unknown is engraved in us as human beings. In language learning, no matter how much we’ve studied or how well we know the grammar and vocabulary, we’re still scared to actually speak the language out loud.

With the Callan Method, the student is encouraged to make mistakes. In fact, it's their job to make mistakes, because teacher is there to guide them and to pick them up when they need help. They just need to build trust and let go of their fear of making mistakes. 

BENEFITS of the activity:

  1. Letting go of control in students.
  2. Fighting the fear of making mistakes.
  3. Students who make mistakes in the group create a stronger bond with peers and teachers.

Find out seven reasons why the Callan method is the best method for learning English online.

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Erasmus

ERASMUS+ 2022 Programme

Are you interested in enrolling high quality, inclusive education, and training abroad? Do you want to learn, travel, and get to know other cultures in EU member states?

If you are a member of an educational organization you have an opportunity to participate in learning mobility activities for adults in European member countries through the ERASMUS+ 2022 programme.

Every year, organizations across Europe submit thousands of projects to receive Erasmus+ funding. The European Commission has established a transparent evaluation process aimed at providing grants for the best projects in its new Erasmus+ Programme Guide 2022. You can find the guide here.

This Program Guide is a great tool for anyone who wants to know thoroughly what Erasmus+ is all about. It is mainly intended for those who want to be participating organizations or individual participants. 

Key Points of the ERASMUS+ 2022 Programme

ERASMUS+ programme for the period 2021-2027 places a strong focus on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions, and promoting young people’s participation in democratic life. 

 The objectives of this program are to:

  • Promote equal opportunities and access, inclusion, and diversity, so that the participants with fewer opportunities can take part too.
  • Emphasize the importance of digital education for the digital transformation in education and training. Moreover, to encourage organizations to acquire digital skills and build their capacity to train and teach with the help of digital tools.
  • Build the knowledge, skills, and attitudes within participating organizations on climate change and support sustainable development within the European Union and beyond.
  • Support participation of the citizens in democratic life, common values, and civic engagement. Furrthermore, to help them overcome difficulties in actively engaging and participating in their communities as well as in the Union's political and social life.

If you are looking for a good training course provider and want to improve your English-speaking skills, look no further.

We offer courses in Croatia in Zagreb and Split for all levels of English, including Business English language course. 

Detailed information on our training be found here.

Check out our new eBook: 10 Tips for a successful KA1 Erasmus+ experience

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Projects

Creative and Critical Thinking in Learners

At the end of this past July, I had the opportunity to attend a teacher training course, “Creativity for the future: promoting Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving,” in Bologna.

In brief, it was not the setting, though Bologna is indisputably breathtaking, it was the people I interacted with that made the experience so spectacular.

The course I attended was offered by ELA and our trainer was the ever-insightful Sara. I had the privilege to attend this course with participants from Romania, Estonia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.

Facilitating Creative and Critical Thinking in Learners

Our main objective for the week was “preparing to foster 21st century skills in our students.” We covered topics such as 21st century skills, creativity tools and techniques, critical thinking - role to foster, problem-solving activities, and ICT tools to stimulate creativity and critical thinking.

Through these topics, we understood our roles as educators in facilitating a variety of thought processes in our learners, even if our learners vary in age. It was interesting to brainstorm and see how we could adapt our activities to reach all ages and types of learners.

Teaching Activities

During the entire training course, we were given many opportunities to learn by doing. Basically, we were given a little theory at the beginning of a topic and then were given activities to complete. The emphasis was on actually trying out concepts for ourselves, either individually or in groups.

 The approach taught me the importance of condensing the most necessary points of a subject and then allow learners to fully grasp the freshly taught material through a given activity. 

The activities we were given to carry out included a variety of media. Some activities were done through online tools such as Kialo, Thinglink and mentimeter, but many were not.

I appreciated the fact that not all activities in our modern classrooms have to be done virtually and that it is quite effective to occasionally go back to basics and use some variation of pen and paper. We must, however, ensure that we present activities to our learners that will incite some form of creativity and critical thinking.

Importance of Creative and Critical Thinking

In addition to the activities, we were given time to reflect on our processes. With so much happening in such a short time, this silent activity at the end of our training days gave us a good reminder to stop and evaluate all the day’s activities.

Through these reflections, we all noticed that we were asked to tap into our own creativity and find suitable ways to bring out the creativity in our students.

Also, we were asked to think critically about events around us. As we all know, information of all sorts is available to us all in a few short clicks. For this reason, the allotted time for reflection was a good reminder to check our biases and to ensure we transfer this thinking process onto our learners.

Impression of the Learning Experience in Bologna

Overall, the experience in Bologna with ELA has forever changed me mainly because it gave me a better insight into how to effectively teach from all angles.

I was able to observe and better communicate with a variety of fellow teachers (and learners) and those skills have already been implemented in my day-to-day activities.

Whoever coined the term “think outside the box” was really onto something, it truly is incredible to see the outcomes of thinking (and doing) outside the box!  

Maria Grgić Skendrović

Project partner:

ELA: Erasmus Training Courses

Find out more about the event here.

The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus+ Enriching lives, opening minds.

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Projects, Uncategorized

Soft skills and emotional intelligence for teachers and education staff

The training held on 31.10. - 6.11. 2021 in the lovely city of Bologna focused primarily on soft skills, that is, knowledge that we’d have difficulty acquiring through formal education, but which is key and prerequisite to successful work - especially when working with people.

The key words of the training were: cooperation and empathy, and through implementing those we covered the issues of assertive communication, teamwork and leadership, conflict management, emotional intelligence, nonverbal communication, and public speaking.

Through the subject of assertive communication, we covered different styles of communication, ranging from passive through aggressive to assertive where the emphasis was on how to successfully say no. We have clarified the issue of conflict by explaining types of conflicts, to the reasons why they occur and the use of conflicts as opportunities and styles of dealing with them.

Teamwork on the other hand was covered through various confidence building activities with the participants of the training and through the prism of good leadership - Goleman’s leadership styles and reflection on one’s own superiors. We connected the idea of nonverbal communication as a means of communication through which we receive 2/3 of all information and advice for successful decoding with public speaking - giving speeches and evaluating aspects of a successful speech; speech preparation, structuring, use of silence and audience, etc.

Each of these individual skills can be applied in multiple ways - from communicating with our students, where assertive communication, coping with conflict, and public speaking particularly stand out as important, not only when we teach but also when we communicate with one other.

I would particularly like to emphasize the importance of exercises that were based on teamwork and leadership – where we can act as leaders to our colleagues and students - who depend on our experiences and knowledge.

How to say no and a successful assertive attitude are skills that are of great importance not only to me personally, but also to our team where in addition to sharing various ideas with each other, we are in contact with students who sometimes don’t understand why something can’t go exactly the way they want it to. Exactly for these reasons – when someone else’s opinion is valued and respected but when we cannot please everyone, it is important to know how to set healthy boundaries and by using empathy and emotional intelligence to ensure both sides are satisfied with the outcome.

Public speaking is one of the key skills for all our teachers, unfortunately currently limited due to the epidemiological situation, but perhaps exactly why it was useful to freshen up my knowledge of how body language, voice, eye contact and gesturing help to establish a positive relationship and trust.

A unique opportunity to exchange ideas with people from all over Europe, including Estonia, the Czech Republic, England, Hungary, Turkey and Germany, going to Bologna was interesting not only in a professional way where I expanded my perception of the importance of emotional intelligence, empathy, teamwork and cooperation but also in a personal way because I got acquainted with the lively Italian culture and way of living that left its mark in my future thoughts on how to work and perform.

Natalija Benić

Project partners:
The Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes

ELA Teacher Trainings

The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus+ : Enriching lives, opening minds.

Step Up – KA 1 Erasmus+ projekt


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innovative-teaching-methods-course
Projects

Innovative Teaching Methods Course in Bologna

Choosing this Erasmus+ experience somehow came hand in hand with the ongoing pandemic situation. Since we have moved to online platforms to conduct our lessons, I have also been wondering how to contribute to creating them. Thankfully our Erasmus+ school coordinator made it happen. She sent me to Bologna, Italy to take the Innovative Teaching Methods course to expand my horizons.

Innovative Teaching Methods

The course was held in August 2021. Fifteen of us, from many different countries, explored not only these great teaching methods, but also the cultural side of Bologna and Florence. And all thanks to our educator Giulia and the whole Erasmus Learning Academy team. 

A week-long course covered various teaching methods; from non-formal education, project based learning, to using ICT tools in classrooms and finally outdoor education. 

Project based learning was the first method we explored. It is a teaching approach in which students themselves explore real world problems and try to raise the awareness by showcasing the problems to other students. This is done as a group project. It involves immersing yourself completely into the situation, all while developing communication skills in teams.

ICT Tools, Non-Formal Education, and Outdoor Education

Next were the ICT tools, which were my favorite part of this course. After working online for a year now, this phase of learning came as a logical continuation. To make online learning easier and effective our educators at ELA showed us some great tools: Socrative, Quizlet, Mentimeter and EdPuzzle. These tools are ideal for creating amazing content for our students.  

Then we moved on with non-formal approach to education. This method generally focuses on how to make in-person lessons more engaging using various activities, such as treasure hunts, creating collages and playing games. 

As for outdoor education, we combined non-formal education concepts with outdoor activities held around the center of Bologna. This way we learned a lot about the city and its rich medieval cultural heritage. The app we used here was ActionBound. If you want to know more about a city/town you're visiting, this app is THE tool to do so ☺

Impressions of the Innovative Teaching Methods Course

Along with these methods and perfect organization, it is necessary to mention all those people without whom this whole experience of unity and learning wouldn't be possible. All fifteen of us exchanged practices, ideas, past experiences and plans how to use all these new insights in our own lessons back home. We also realized that one of the most important things to take home from this course is: we can do everything if we work together.

Tamara Marček

Project partners:
The Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes

ELA Teacher Trainings

The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus+ : Enriching lives, opening minds.

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Projects

Effective Classroom Management Strategies in Bologna

Teacher's experience:Effective Classroom Management Strategies for Teachers and other Education Staff by ELA: Erasmus+ Training Courses for teachers and educational staff

Domagoj was born in Osijek. When he left for London for a few months, he didn’t expect that he would have stayed there for 14 years and that it would be an experience that would change his life forever. He completed the CELTA Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Adults. He came back to Zagreb in 2009 for love, and the first door he knocked on was that of our school, Inicijativa. Since then he has been teaching English at our school and loves his job. You can see him in the city, riding his bike speedily from point A to point B. When he isn’t at the school, he lives for music and travelling.

Domagoj Biondić

Strategies for Creating a Good Supportive Classroom

Very rarely can one say that their expectations have been exceeded, yet, that was exactly what happened to me during the time I spent in Bologna as part of Erasmus program.

The course I participated in was titled Effective Classroom Management and Strategies for Teachers. The main focus was on how to create a Good Supportive Classroom. 

Among many strategies/techniques we were taught there, the skills I am particularly grateful to have acquired are:

  • Using Emotional Intelligence in teaching, as well as at work, and everyday life in general

  • The importance of Grup Dynamics, Cooperative Learning and Collaboration and how to achieve that

  • What language to use to encourage Growth Mindset in students, and work colleagues alike, when giving feedback or helping them overcome struggles 

  • Conflict Management, that is, how to go about handling them (conflicts), understand them, and use them as opportunities to learn and grow

  • Different Instruction Teaching (Different Learning Needs=Different Learning Styles 

  • The interconnection of the above

Applying Classroom Management Strategies

Upon returning from Bologna, I’ve been applying those skills in my everyday life, both personal
(as a partner, friend, family member) and professional (as a teacher and work colleague), whenever a suitable situation presented itself; some successfully, some not 😊.

It is my plan to pass that knowledge onto my fellow teachers and work colleagues through a workshop (and/or any additional ones if needs be). I believe it’ll help improve our work environment, communication, and understanding. It will enable us to become better teachers, trainers, managers, fellow workers and human beings for that matter.

Classroom Management Strategies Benefit Our Students

It goes without saying that our students should, or rather, will benefit the most from all this as we’ll be able to apply more student-centred approach in a class. We will cater for their specific needs, yet function as a group, and as a result will boost their self-confidence, motivation and enthusiasm. We will make them more collaborative, involved and engaging and thus making their learning experience worthwhile and appreciated.

In other words, it will be a ‘win - win – win’ (school – teachers – students) situation for us all.

In addition to the inspiring course itself, mentioned at the beginning, we also enjoyed some truly amazing out – of – class / outdoor activities that included a super interested approach to sightseeing, group’s dinners and lunches. We also visited Florence, all of which contributed to an amazing experience, made me appreciate every second of being there, and helped me grow.

As I like to say: I’m still emotionally jet-lagged from my Bologna adventure 😊.

Domagoj Biondić

Domagoj has already organized workshops on classroom management strategies for his colleagues in Zagreb and Split.

The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus+

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Lubljana - European senior exchange
Projects

3rd Project Meeting – Virtual Visit to Ljubljana with the European Senior Exchange

From the 3rd to 5th of November 2021 we participated in a virtual meeting of a project we are partners of: European Senior Exchange.

The activity was led by partners from CDI Univerzum from Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Unfortunately, our meetings still cannot be held live. The project itself is aimed at activities for seniors who are a risk group at the moment, and therefore need more precautions when planning activities. Fortunately, the partners from CDI Univerzum were organised and creative enough to give us a valuable experience of their country and the city of Ljubljana in virtual form. 

The virtual meeting was attended by several elderly people, one of whom is our participant. Through creative online activities, they had the opportunity to learn about some of the main cultural features of Slovenia and Slovenes. 

Virtual Tour of Ljubljana and its Sights

The participants were taken on a virtual tour of Ljubljana with a personal guide, who was simultaneously walking with a camera through Ljubljana and telling the stories and tales of the city. This gave us the opportunity to learn more about Ljubljana, as we were practically right there. We also had a virtual presentation at the National Gallery. With all the art being digitized, the curator was able to show the art as if we were in a real gallery and, at the same time, tell the story of each individual piece. 

We really felt like we were walking through the gallery and appreciating the art. This all gave us a better understanding of how Slovenian art and artists were being influenced and influential in their own era.

Review of the 3rd Project Meeting as Part of the European Senior Exchange

On the last day, we were given a crash course on the Slovenian language, where Croatians had some advantage, for sure. 😊 But nevertheless, we must admit that Slovenians are far better in Croatian than Croatians in Slovenian. 

All in all, we take our hats off to the Slovenians for organising and mastering online tools for teaching and holding online meetings. This is one of the most valuable experiences we have had during this project.

We can fairly say that, although Slovenians are our next-door neighbours and we share a lot together, we enjoyed their simplicity, love for nature, and funny phrases.

Jelena Posavec Smilović

Visit our FB page for more information about the European Senior Exchange.

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

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