Young people helping other young people: meet Maria, Interreg Volunteer Youth with the MYSEA project

© Interreg Volunteer Youth

This article originally appeared on the 'Interreg Volunteer Youth' website. 

"Interreg Volunteer Youth" (IVY) is an action that offers the possibility to young people aged 18-30 to serve as volunteers in EU-funded cross-border, transnational or interregional programmes and related projects. The initiative managed by the Association of European Border Regions has opened its doors to the ENI CBC community allowing young people to volunteer outside of the European Union. Discover the story of Maria from Greece who has been volunteering for 5 months to support the implementation of the MYSEA project.

Hello everyone, my name is Maria Kanellopoulou and I am an IVY Project Partner for the “MYSEA” project at EUROTraining Educational Organization in Greece. For the past 5 months I have been volunteering towards the implementation of the MYSEA Project, which aims to advance the skills of Youth, NEETs and women in order to find employment in sectors of the Green and Blue Economy. MYEA is funded by the ENI CBC Med Programme, a Programme that promotes collaboration between Euro-Mediterranean countries.

For the MYSEA Project, organizations from 5 countries (Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia) work together towards a common goal: to reduce existing and emerging labour market skills gaps through the provision of training and mentoring. While each country has its own national context, all of them share similar demographic challenges, skill mismatches, rigid regulations, gender gaps and persistence of certain socio-cultural norms. The resulting situation is high unemployment rates of youth, mainly NEETs, and women. Answering to this, MYSEA maps new occupational profiles in the agri-food and waste management sectors and offers 15 oriented vocational training packages, coaching, and on-the-job-training. A total of 1000 vulnerable people will attend these activities in order to gain the necessary skills to find a job.

'I had the opportunity to express my ideas and brainstormed about how we can best help youth and women in all partner countries to improve their lives'.

When I joined the project, we already had the results from the territorial analysis mapping the needs of the agri-food and waste management sectors in the participating countries. This meant that it was time to delve into the exciting but challenging task of developing a cross-border curriculum that would bridge the skills gap and increase the employability of our future students. In close collaboration with the rest of the team, I participated in meetings and discussions about the development of courses. I had the opportunity to express my ideas and brainstormed about how we can best help youth and women in all partner countries to improve their lives.

I have an educational background in Special Education and Curriculum Design, so I was particularly happy to contribute in the project in this way. I knew the steps we had to take to design a successful course, but this was the first time that I got to see how people from different countries and backgrounds can collaborate by looking at their common needs and common Mediterranean identity. My volunteering experience in this project allowed me to experience first-hand what Cohesion Policy and collaboration is all about: listening to each other, coming up with ideas to benefit the most vulnerable above us, and being dedicated to achieving our shared goal.

As I come closer to the end of my volunteering period, I am reflecting on everything I gave to MYSEA, and everything MYSEA gave back to me. I feel deeply that I am part of a cross-border team where many young people like me take part in the management and implementation of a project that will benefit other young people. In my opinion, this truly shows the power of collaboration and team-work, and I am grateful to IVY for allowing me to experience this first-hand.