Inspiring local youth

Over the past 2 weekends I spent both Saturday and Sunday with about 25 local youth at the Balti primaria (mayor’s office)  where they took part in training sessions about leadership, project management, team building, fundraising, marketing, volunteering, + more. Last year was the first year this volunteer initiative, “Salut, Balti!” was formed by the municipality of the Balti primaria with the help of 3 Peace Corps volunteers. It’s aim is to educate young volunteers to solve problems within their local community through the spirit of volunteering.

One of the groups working on a group exercise during the first weekend.
One of the groups working on a group exercise during the first weekend.

For 3 weekends in a row, these youth will participate both Saturday and Sunday in these training sessions where they will learn new skills, meet other local youth, and produce a community project within three months after the last training this weekend. The hope is that they will then continue to volunteer in their community and invest in various projects or organizations after these training weekends.

We did some team-building activities one afternoon -- my favorite was the River of Lava team-builder (but I may be biased since I helped at that one)
We did some team-building activities one afternoon — my favorite was the River of Lava team-builder. (but I may be biased since I helped with that one)

The past two weekends were fun, inspiring, and exhausting as they were full of meeting local youth, learning new skills, team building activities, and lots of laughter. I tried my best to communicate with many of them using my new Romanian language skills… usually it just ended up with us laughing and another student helping to translate. Many of the training sessions were led by students who had participated in the Salut Balti training weekends last year.

Some of the fantastic and inspiring youth on the Salut Balti leadership team who led some of the training sessions.
Some of the fantastic and inspiring youth on the Salut Balti leadership team who led some of the training sessions.

During the second weekend, we split up into groups and organized small sample projects in the community – some went to a local grocery story and collected food for an organization that helps patients with TB, another group conducted a survey about recycling, another group made cards for some older citizens, another group made a video promoting volunteering, and the group I was with did some trash pick up around the local lake. It was a bit cold, but the youth seemed to have fun with it. They seemed entertained at my attempt at trying to talk to them in Romanian — I tried really hard to have conversations with them, it’ so tough with limited language skills, there were so many things I wanted to talk about and ask them! Hey, at least i tried!

Lots of laughs with these guys as we picked up trash along the lake.
Lots of laughs with these guys as we picked up trash along the lake.

It has been a great opportunity to be part of the “Salut Balti” volunteer initiative and training weekends over the past 2 weekends and I look forward to the last weekend coming up as we continue to get to know the youth and work with them over the next 3 months on their projects they’ll implement in the community. These youth are inspiring the more I get to know them — I am looking forward to see what unfolds. Stay tuned!

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