Informal Learning in the heart of Bass-Country- StepEurope Volunteer’s Experience

At the end of June group of 21 eager seminar participants gathered together in Renteria, small village next to one of Bass-country’s capital San Sebastian. Participants came from six different countries around Europe, from Poland, Latvia, Germany, Estonia, Sweden, Spain and of course Finland. We had seven days ahead of us, time to learn, to share experiences and get to know each other.

Topic of the seminar was divided in two parts – celebration of Erasmus program that is turning 30 years and non-formal learning. Most of the participants had participated in Erasmus+ program and they had lots of stories to tell about their time spend abroad studying or participating seminars. Others had experience working with education and learning – formal and non-formal.

During the seminar everyone was active part of the program. Participants led some of the sessions, and in others they chose the direction by participating and sharing their own point of views. We learned about education systems in other countries, what is non-formal learning and how is it different from formal learning. We shared visions of future – what could be done differently in our countries, and in Europe in general so that learning and education could be more effective and beneficial. And while doing all that we also got to know each other’s and our home countries a bit more, new connections and friendship were made, some seeds planted for future projects and co-operations.

Between all the learning, talking and exercises we had some time to explore as well. Organizers of the seminar did their best to tell us a little bit about where we were – about Bass country, its culture, history and even language. We did some trips to explore the village we were living and also the beautiful city of Saint Sebastian.

Considering the common image of Spain – pictures of long beaches, palm trees, tourists all around and long sunny days, area where we spent out time was something completely different. Northern Spain, Bass-country, has lots of hills, unsteady weather, beaches with beautiful (and huge) waves. Everywhere where you look at you could see green – not palm leaves green, but a real forest green. San Sebastian is an old city, with beautiful beach line, own set of hills and viewpoints and old stone buildings. Well worth of visit, though you might need a raincoat with you.

All in all, our seminar was a good experience. It was full of laughter and encouraging words, it offered things to learn and things to think thru and then think again.  It offered us a chance to get to know a different side of Spain than I expected and to meet people, I might not have met in another case.