Wonderful times in wonderful Thessaloniki: DIVA youth exchange

Posted in: Fun things!, Travelling on 30 June, 2017 by Sacha

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As I am writing this blog post, I am still a little bit ‘high’ from the last youth exchange that I attended. I got back to Sweden on 22 June, just before Midsummer, which means that I have been back for about a week now. I definitely needed some time to recover – quite literally, as I managed to get sick on the last day of the exchange. However, that doesn’t change that it was an incredible experience, and I would love to share a little bit about it with all of you.


The exchange was called DIVA – Diversity In Visual Arts and was about LGBTIQ+ rights and how one can use different forms of media to raise awareness and engage in dialogue about rights for LGBTIQ+ people. Of course, as a gender studies student and someone who identifies as bisexual, this exchange was very interesting, and as soon as I saw the call for participants I contacted TNB – the Swedish sending organisation for this exchange, that has also sent me on the two previous exchanges that I have written about. My application was accepted, and I was even asked to act as group leader during the exchange. I was a little nervous about this at first, but also quite excited. In the end, it all went completely fine as the Swedish team was really amazing and hard-working.


The exchange took place in Thessaloniki, Greece. The whole Swedish team travelled together, and we had a 9 hour layover in Berlin, which, although tiring, was quite exciting, as I had never been to Berlin before. I will write about my day in Berlin in another post, though 🙂 A quick note before I share some pictures – naturally I have a lot of pictures of the people in the group, but because of privacy reasons I will not share those in this blog post. Therefore, you will have to do it with just pictures of things, and myself.


As in most youth exchanges, the first days were meant to get to know each other and to be introduced to the topic of the project. Therefore, in the first two days we played name games, made buttons with our names, made postboxes to send each other messages throughout the project, played more introductory games and met our facilitators for the different workshops that we would follow during rest of the project. We also mapped out the situation of LGBTIQ+ rights in our countries and wrote our fears and expectations for the project on a dirty pair of clothes.

An introductory picture that everyone got to take.. afterwards they were printed and put onto an apple – and onto the ‘apple tree’ that you can see in the background




Our mailboxes… all fabulous unicorns 🙂


Mapping out the situation of LGBTIQ+ people in Sweden


Hanging out our dirty laundry 😉 Fears and expectations


As in all youth exchanges, we also had several intercultural evenings. As we had ten countries in this project, we had a total of three evenings. During the intercultural evening, each country team shared some information, videos or dances from their country. Despite the Swedish team being from very mixed backgrounds (Russia, India, the Netherlands), we still managed to represent Sweden with food, dancing (Små Grodorna, of course ;)) and videos.


After getting to know the group we were divided into five smaller groups for the workshops. I was assigned to the RadioMania (radio) workshop – the others were PhotoSnap (photography), VideoRama (video), Colourful or Colourless (paper sculpturing) and Creative Sociodrama (theatre). In the radio workshop, we were introduced to the whole process of making a radio show – from recording the material to the final editing. This was also our final goal for the project – make our own radio show.


As the exchange took place during Thessaloniki pride, we used this as theme and input for our radio program. All group members designed and chose segments they would like to work on – some people did ‘voxpops’ (from Vox Populi, the voice of the people) – a segment where one asks a question to many different people. Others worked on longer interviews. I got the idea to make a soundscape of the day – recording sounds and then editing them into a short segment to give an impression of what the day was like. I really enjoyed making it, but it was definitely hard work – I was recording all day and I had over an hour of material that I had to cut down to less than 5 minutes!


The workshop facilitators were so kind to lend me their proper radio equipment – I felt very professional throughout the day 😉


In action 🙂


One of the main landmarks of Thessaloniki, the white tower, was lit up in the colours of the rainbow.


Although the program was pretty packed, there was also one day off, during which we took the time to do some ‘touristing’. It was fun but exhausting: first we received a tour around Thessaloniki, and then we decided to walk up the hill to get a nice view of the city.

‘There will be no LGBTQ liberation without revolution – there will be no revolution without LGBTQ liberation’



I am really thankful for this experience to both United Societies of Balkans (the hosting organisation) and TNB (the sending organisation), as well as to Erasmus+. I met so many amazing people and it has been incredibly valuable and inspiring to see how people are fighting for their rights all over Europe. I think it is very important to keep building bridges and to work on increased solidarity between the European countries – and especially between the west and the east.


Tidsnätverket i Bergsjön (TNB) will have more opportunities for youth exchanges next semester – follow the Facebook page for new calls for participants.


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Sacha Bogaers

Sacha Bogaers
Hello everybody!
My name is Sacha, I am from the Netherlands and I recently came to Linköping to study gender studies.
I am looking forward to sharing my experiences in Linköping and Sweden. I hope that living here will give me the opportunity to see more of this beautiful country!

MSSc Gender Studies - Intersectionality and Change

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