Participants of the Eduk8 Starter 2024 posing for a group photo.

From the 24th of February to the 8th of March 2024, 40 volunteers from around Europe participated in ESN’s training for trainers, Eduk8 Starter: Mobilising Youth about Gender Equality. The aim of the training was to train ESN volunteers to be able to design, implement and evaluate quality workshops, to raise awareness about the impact of gender stereotypes in young people’s lives, and to spread the appropriate tools to increase gender inclusion and equality effectively at a personal and institutional level.

The training took place in the recreation centre Chata Doubravka in the Czech Republic. It was the first time we used this venue for a similar purpose and it was absolutely amazing! A big thank you from the side of ESN International to the owners for their hospitality and for creating a home for the participants in the middle of the magical Czech woods.

Eduk8 Starter: Mobilising Youth about Gender Equality is a part of ESN’s 2024 Work Plan: “Inclusivity for All, Now!”, funded by the Council of Europe and the European Youth Foundation. It is the first of many activities that ESN will do throughout 2024 in order to educate volunteers and international students on the topic of fostering gender equality and inclusion in youth organisations and society

Participating in the Eduk8 Starter was more than just a training experience; it was a journey of personal growth and heartfelt connections. Surrounded by like-minded individuals, I learned not only about training but also about myself. The unity and shared passion among participants highlighted the importance of human connection and left a lasting impact on me. Eduk8 Starter showed me the power of community and the beauty of personal growth within it.  - Joanna, ESN Poland

Eduk8 Starter was without a doubt the best ESN event I have ever attended. Before I went I had high expectations, everyone speaks very highly of it, but at the same time, it always leaves you in mystery, without fully explaining what it encompasses. After experiencing it, I realised that the problem is more that it is not easy to describe what the Eduk8 Starter is and what it does with the participants. I have learnt many things, reflected deeply and made new friends, but most of all, it has helped me to build a better future for myself and pass on my passions to others to help them grow as well. It is difficult to describe in words, but I am truly grateful to have had the honour of participating in this experience and it will certainly always remain a reference point in my life. - Giacomo, ESN Austria

The training focused on gender stereotypes that are prevalent among young people nowadays and the ways to address, counter and fight them to create a more inclusive society. There was a special emphasis on how gender stereotypes are used and spread, both online and offline.

Throughout the entire training, participants developed general training skills and competencies such as needs assessment, setting aims and objectives, training design, various methodologies, the role of a trainer, verbal facilitation, proper use of nonverbal communication, debriefing and evaluation techniques.

During the training and follow-up, collective input and feedback were gathered to develop guidelines for youth organisations to host safe and inclusive events, and participants designed 20 workshops addressing gender stereotypes and microaggressions, which will be compiled into a booklet for dissemination across the network.

The Starter was way more than I had expected. It was a journey that helped me understand myself, others and training methods, and form lifelong friendships. Everyone told me before that it would change my life and I didn't take them seriously. But now I would say the same when anyone else tells me that they are going to the Eduk8 Starter. - Jon, ESN Switzerland

Eduk8 Starter was a life-changing experience for me. I have never learned so much - not only about non-formal education but also about myself. The atmosphere, the organisation and the people will always be in my heart. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to attend what has become one of the best experiences of my life! - Ella, ESN Germany