Erasmus+ Mind Connected Media program in Hamburg exceeded my expectations.


My name is Gabriele, and in a few days, I'll turn 40. I'm Italian and work as a chef. For most people, this is enough to categorize me, but I know it's not that simple. The person that people believe (or want to believe) I am wouldn't have embarked on this apparent madness. Returning to an academic setting after many years isn't an easy decision. Still, the topic interested me, and I felt I had sufficient language skills to gain something from it. I had no idea what I was triggering.

Before getting to the point, it's essential to mention the organizations that made the Mind Connected Media project possible, at least to provide a clearer picture to the reader. By the way, I've never studied journalism, so I apologize if my exposition is confusing. Additionally, the memories are still vivid, making me more verbose than I'd like. Perhaps I'll have this article corrected by an AI. (Just kidding)

Back to us. My applause and gratitude go first to Identity Spirit, the association through which I could participate, especially to my friend Helen, who skillfully managed all activities. Without her encouragement, maybe I wouldn't have started. Right after, I want to thank the TopAfric association in Hamburg and its coordinator Desmond for their commitment and seriousness in carrying forward this project; the experience at their organization's radio was the highlight of the entire course.

For 35 years, the European community has been funding Erasmus+ projects, and recently there has been an increase in funds, raising hopes for more frequent, numerous, and well-resourced courses. Regarding the mediation and allocation of these funds, thanks go to the agency NA at BIBB (National Agency Education for Europe at the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training), working with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the national agency responsible for the EU Erasmus+ program in vocational education and training.

And now, let's get to the heart of the matter.

Erasmus+ has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I cannot summarize it differently; I can only try to explain the motivations: It was my first training course of this kind, and certainly, the novelty played its role in terms of charm, but there's something more personal that led me to live those days with so much enthusiasm. I never attended any university; after high school, I moved, and I started working to support myself.

There's only one thing I've always envied about friends who chose an academic path: the opportunity to access programs like this, bringing people from around the world together, essentially building a network of contacts formed by cheerful young people eager to learn, delve into, and understand every aspect of our society to shape the next one, tailor-made for all peoples.

Without delving into further personal matters (which do exist), it was fantastic for me to live closely with these young people because it rekindled my hope that a better world is possible. That there are still people with beautifully oriented moral compasses, who still believe in the values of equality and altruism, who aren't afraid to engage and sweat for a just cause. It was nice to have that certainty, even though sometimes, from above, they seem to want to make us believe the opposite.

Perhaps a university student on their fifth Erasmus wouldn't have been equally struck by the humanistic and social aspects of this project, finding themselves in a somewhat familiar context. Still, for me, it was like igniting the warmth of a thousand suns. And it's not only thanks to what I learned or the people I met. It's also the satisfaction of having been able to give so much in return to my course mates. I supported them, established a silent complicity with some, took care of others, and worked hard to bring out the best in each. For them, and for me. And it worked. I feel that in a little over a week, I gained friends worldwide. Real friends, not just followers.

What I initially saw as a limitation, causing me some concern, namely being a student among people all younger than me, with minds more trained for study, certainly more integrated into social life compared to the writer (who lives in the remote countryside of Tuscany, not exactly the center of civilization and cultural exchange), in fact, turned out to be an advantage.

Thanks to my personal journey, I was able to contribute a baggage of experiences different from most participants, an additional facet of diversity that enriched the multicultural context as much as any other. Contrary to the expectations of a simple training course, it was an unexpected way to feel useful and appreciated. I want to spend a few words to tell you about the Mind Connected Media project, but I won't go into too many details because I believe that discovery is an important part of the experience; going through the course without a predefined idea is useful to fully live it, along with equally unaware classmates.

Mind Connected Media has two main areas of focus: cultural exchange, from understanding to integration, and media usage, from its uses to break down social barriers to awareness of the risks of inconsiderate use. Through a table of exercises, concepts, and team-building mechanics, the course efficiently manages to coexist with these two main objectives, advancing them with strategic gradualness and, above all, without overloading students with theoretical insights.

Instead, it intelligently exploits dynamics common to every human being to guide participants toward an awareness (and knowledge) derived from their own experience, and therefore acquired much more spontaneously, internalized more deeply.

Throughout the days, students are constantly stimulated to bring out their potentials, creativity, critical thinking, determination, and sense of responsibility: with the help of multimedia laboratories that allow learning to use various programs and platforms, board games that test ingenuity, tasks that stimulate teamwork, and much more.

At the same time, the right context is created for social interactions, but without intervening didactically, without excessive lessons about ethics or morality. Instead, it allows first-hand experience of the idea of harmonious multiculturalism, where every difference is not accepted as a reason to distance but as an element that enriches the backdrop of a diverse humanity.

Therefore, every activity, every workshop, and every moment of the day is designed to immerse students in this "protected" environment, where helping each other in small daily gestures helps them get to know each other, allowing them to develop individually, each with their ways and times, their sensibilities. Regarding my personal experience, I would say that it worked great.

I can attest that programs like these are accessible to anyone, even without an academic background. However, a good command of English is crucial to fully participate, especially in short-term projects like this, where the need for translations can impact the time dedicated to activities. Always driven by the goal of optimizing time, I recommend focusing on adapting technological resources during courses involving daily use of multimedia devices.

This can significantly improve the efficiency of the entire training In conclusion, Erasmus+ and Mind Connected Media exceeded my expectations, opening a world of opportunities and global connections. This experience was not only educational but also a strong impetus for a more optimistic view of the future.

Gabriele Codoni