“Target ZERO. Creating Responsible Enterprise” youth exchange projects, which took place in the Spanish town of Benalmadena, shares Karolina.
After certain changes in my professional activities, I decided to look for new experiences and inspiration in the project “Target ZERO. Creating Responsible Enterprise”. The project was organized under the Erasmus + program and implemented by the organization Copernicus Berlin e.V. The aim of the project is to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and the development and implementation of solutions to environmental problems, promoting sustainable business development methods and models.
The project took place in the Spanish town of Benalmadena with an impressive landscape. Benalmadena is a city in Andalusia, 12 km west of Malaga. What does this town name mean? One of the assumptions is that its name comes from the old times, when these lands were still ruled by the Arabs. Translated from Arabic, Benalmadena means “son of the mines”. It was once home to huge mines, and nowadays the town has become an important tourist destination.
The fatigue of the long journey faded away when I saw the city skyline surrounded by night lights and the restless waves of the Mediterranean Sea from the balcony of the 11th floor hotel room. Then was the moment when I realized that an extraordinary experience was waiting for me. I chose this project not only because of the wonderful location. The topic of the project seemed very important to me, because I am constantly interested in contemporary issues of environmental preservation and I intend to connect my future with this field.
Each day of our project had a clear structure. At the beginning of each session, we did fun energizing exercises that not only boosted our energy levels but also helped us focus on the activities ahead (very helpful after a long night of fun). In the theoretical part, we analyzed relevant concepts of sustainable business, e.g. intrapreneurship, infopreneurship, green entrepreneurship, greenwashing, carbon offsetting, EDI (equality, diversity, inclusion), golden circle idea, Sustainable Development Goals and many others. This was followed by hands-on activities that help us delve deeper into the topic of the session. The work usually took place in groups, performing various tasks: drawing an entrepreneur’s profile, recognizing greenwashing features in packaging, applying SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to your personal goals and the business idea you are creating, creating a niche business idea, demonstrating your acting skills and various discussions, presenting ideas to other teams. It is also worth mentioning memorable activities unrelated to the project topic, but which allowed us to get to know each other better and establish stronger relationships.
Cup exchange. Each project participant had to bring a cup from his country. An important highlight – the cup had to represent an interesting story and be passed on to the next project participant.
Writing letters in a romantic candlelit setting. It was fun writing letters to people I didn’t know well and reading so many beautiful and motivating words about myself.
Intercultural night. During this event, we had the opportunity not only to get to know the history, culture, and traditional dishes of various countries, but also to admire the Milan fashion show, learn national dances and try our hand at a spicy German youth game.
Throughout the project, we were surrounded by a warm and supportive atmosphere, which our energetic coordinator Palina did a great job of creating. Palina always greeted us in a good mood, was understanding of our needs, but at the same time did not let us forget the rules of the project. All the participants who were late to the session certainly did not go unnoticed. One of the most memorable punishments for latecomers is the performance of the ballet “Swan Lake” for the project participants. As you can understand, there was really a lot of laughter.
Free time was not to be wasted, so in a short period of time we managed to visit a number of famous objects. The Colomares Palace is one of the most popular attractions for tourists, where we were also immortalized. The palace is intended to honor Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America and its discovery. Benalmadena is a great place for animal and nature lovers. As we climbed higher we found the butterfly park where we were surrounded by over 1500 butterflies in a tropical paradise. Next to the butterfly park stands the largest Buddhist temple in Europe, whose golden dome can be seen from the coast for many kilometers. The temple offers a wonderful panorama of the Mediterranean coast. Despite my fear of heights, I decided to take the cable car to the heights with a group of wonderful friends, from which there is a view of the coast and the mountains in front of Benalmadena. It is said that on a particularly clear day you can even see Gibraltar and Africa. Although in a hurry, we also visited La Paloma Park, which is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. Various animals roam freely in it: rabbits, peacocks, goats and others. The park has several lakes where ducks, swans and turtles swim. It is a popular place for evening walks, weekend picnics and dates for both tourists and locals.
This period of the project was full of amazing views, unexpected discoveries and insights, meaningful conversations, cozy evenings, fun, laughter, dancing, fun games and trying to get to know each other better. It would take a few more pages to describe what I took away from this project, but to summarize my insights:
1. Anyone can become an entrepreneur if they follow the right attitude;
2. The career path will be easier if we use our failures as lessons;
3. Socially responsible business has the power to initiate significant changes in society;
4. Reativity is the engine of life, even if fate offers you a life scenario that doesn’t suit you, it’s never too late to start creating your own version;
5. Games bring us together, make us happy, creative and help us express ourselves;
6. And last but not least, it turns out that it is not so easy to discover the Spanish donuts Churros.
If you are still reading my story, thank you for your patience and I hope my story has inspired you to try something unusual in your life. For example, the youth exchange program. I can promise you a priceless experience awaits you!