Some of you might be wondering why exactly we are conducting our workshops in Constanta. We ourselves contempate this as well at times, as our purpose might not appear to be so self-evident.
The reason why we were called to this city was to help raise the level of engagement and responsiveness of the youth of Constanta on the topic of extracurricular activities. In this way we can help to improve the connection between other members of the community in this city as well as to help the city to become more lively and even more prosperous.
Besides our main goal we also attempt to promote tolerance for other cultures, nationalities and religions as well as democratic participation, the development of several skills and we try to raise interest for civic and professional development. These are merely things that we attempt during our workshops, however they are not the main purpose of our activities.
In very general terms, our purpose is to make Constanta a nicer place to live in. Where people meet others, because they like to visit activities where they are willing to get to know new people, not only for their own development, but also so that those other people are allowed a less isolated experience. A Constanta where people are willing to spend money not only on things they like, but also on creating things that they would like to see existing, instead of hoping that someone else might create it for them one day.
As we have learned from the local Constanta community, there is quite some compensational behavior present here. For example, after the communistic time, people started to buy a lot of groceries when more resources became available, even more groceries than they could consume by themselves. This came forth from the experience of lack they endured during the communist era.
Another example is the people that board ships for most of the year and when they come back to Constanta, either for vacation or for retirement, they prefer not doing much here because they had already been so busy while being at sea.
It can be believed that a similar compensational pattern exists among the youth of Constanta. Since there is quite a pampering culture here, where parents believe they know what is best for their children (better than those children know it themselves), they force them to go attend many extracurricular activities as they see in this the most beneficial future for their children. Moreover, schools tend to have very long days and even then they issue homework as well, causing the students to have little free time for themselves.
This cultural situation generates a polarizing behavior. As everything is planned for them already, the youth in Constanta generally doesn’t have to think about what they have or want to do. And if they happen to have any free time (now or later in their life) then they often prefer to do the opposite of always being occupied, so considering this it does not appear weird at all why they would attend few extracurricular activities.
These extracurricular activities themselves might also have been organized by people not of their age group who think they know what others want to do and might actually not even appeal to the youth of Constanta. If older people like them, they can attend these events, but perhaps they should not count on many youngesters to join them.
This can be verified further by our conversation with university students. They told us that there is actually little for them to do eventhough the perception of older inhabitants is that there is a lot for them to do but that they choose not to participate. It can therefore be said that the youth does not see many events as a real option to spend their leisure time on.
Perhaps they have to be asked what they want to do, something that society, including their parents, does not seem to ask them often.
Asking what they want to do, what they would like to see and what they would like to create is something that we do during our workshops.
We often even go back one step and show them how fast they can create something by themselves, especially while working together in a group.
It requires putting to the table what each individual would like to do and to find common ground. Then just let the ideas flow without much judgement and in the end every group is always able to create something, often it results in a very creative idea that would actually be useful to society as well.
It is clear for us to see that it’s not just the youth that needs to change, in fact the youth has been shaped by the already existing society. We believe that when everyones needs are considered people can start to evaluate what has to change in a critical way.
We have seen the positive effects of our workshops and we hope that, slowly but surely, the experience that the students had during our workshops will flow through the rest of the society and will help transform this city.