As a part of the global network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, the island of Flores, located in the Azores archipelago, hosted its first youth exchange last week. The project was done by the organization Coconutwork.
The project relates the idea of sustainable development and the possibility of sustainably using the environment as a resource for youth enterprises in rural areas. One of the objectives was to promote ideas for young people to establish environment-based enterprises in local communities.On the first days, we got to know each other by playing some name games. We also got an introduction to the objectives of the youth exchange, the schedule, and the participants‘ expectations. The most crucial activity was when the participants were instructed on design thinking activities. Simulating a real-world issue, they began thinking of the solution using several methods. One of the tasks was to create a smart village while solving the town’s problem. We worked in groups, discussed, reflected, and brainstormed. During one day, had the opportunity to visit the newly built incubator for entrepreneurs on Flores island. We learned about their business strategies and opportunities for entrepreneurs. We also had a chance to have a workshop where we were enlighted by the opportunities that the European Union offers, and we had a chance to apply. In the evening, the intercultural night took its place. Combining all the countries into a small "country -town," we had the opportunity to explore everyone's food and culture simultaneously.
And, of course, visiting the beauties of this island was a must. During a study visit, we saw the most prominent tourist places around the island, such as several waterfalls or lakes. The tropical fauna and flora were stunning, and the number of endemics is unbelievable.