Association Lojtra Team
Association Lojtra is a Slovenian association for personal and professional development of youth focusing on non-formal learning, community building, street education/animation and other global educational activities.
In Bridge 47, we strive for Global Citizenship Education practitioners to be as innovative in their work as possible. We asked newly joined partners in our network to tell a story about their innovative project. In the first of these stories, Association Lojtra from Slovenia presents their Four Winds project.
At association Lojtra we are experimenting with nature-based approaches since 2014. Over the years we saw what a profound and at times unimaginably strong effect it has on the participants, organizing outdoor trainings and youth exchanges, weekends for relaxation and detox. Sometimes invisibly, the surroundings and the fact, since we are organizing all the activities outside, that sitting in the circle, meditating on the grass, gathering, reflecting, singing around the campfire, has a pleasant, deeper effect of connectedness on all of us. Through time we also started framing this realization narratively or rationalizing it on four levels. So we organized the activities (physical level), we felt how important this outdoor work is. Not necessarily knowing yet why, but just feeling it, relating to the surroundings more and more and to each other (emotional and spiritual level). Then we started describing it, framing it cognitively - now we call it nature-based approach and the realization process enabled us to intentionally involve the surroundings in our trainings even more (meditation by the tree in a forest, trust games while hiking and using natural obstacles in the methodology, forest aromatherapy, symbolism through focused walks, using your intuition, listening to nature…).
Many times participants report on life-changing effects the experience has on them (young girl from Latvia became an outdoor camp leader for the blind after the youth exchange, and before she never considered camping in nature, a woman from Greece created her own organization where she organizes activities and outdoor hiking events for orphans, she did a mountain guide certification (before that she never spent time in nature, she never spent a night in a tent before)…) We get similar stories every year.
In 2017 we started cooperating with Officine Cittadine, Sensibiliz Action and Humanitas on a project called Global education Agora (www.geagora.eu. All our projects, thanks to this cooperation and individuals in Lojtra, who were engaged in GCE activities elsewhere, started gaining an important and stronger global citizenship dimension perspective.
What we are noticing, as individuals and as an organization is, that GCE altogether is too often practiced only on an intellectual level. Working with music, movement, things that grow and live, the land, whole body experiences are still considered as something too out of the norm. You have to get crazy (irrational) to find your different faces, to see what you can do, said the great, now sadly deceased, theatre expert Ivan Nogales, from Teatro Trono in Bolivia. Do we allow ourselves to get crazy? To do things that are considered strange, odd, and ludicrous in the society? Dance at the start of the school lesson? Talk and act on behalf of our feelings? Sing on the street when we are happy? What is considered rational is often limiting our capabilities to react and act in a spontaneous way. The aim of the Four winds project is to move away from only rational and an invitation to explore different levels of being in the world, to dare to explore, feel them! It is also an invitation to decolonize from the mindset which inhibits us from trying certain things out and identifying what are these limitations, where do they come from. More daring approaches are needed if we would like to change the way we are in the world and the way we relate to it in time.
The Four winds project represents the combination of experiential, non-formal, embodied, peer-to-peer trainings in the natural environment, which is a result of a 5-year work experimenting with various nature-based approaches; and creation of cards with diverse activities.
Through a 5-day training we will be experimenting with the four levels and its symbolism(water, earth, fire, air; spiritual, physical, cognitive, emotional; winter, autumn, spring, summer; …). We will be connecting with each of the four levels through different channels/methods- music, dance, theatre, gardening, nonviolent communication, medicine walks, …. The process and reflection will be supported by the coaching and art of hosting methodologies. The main aim is to build connection and appreciation with everything around us, learn to live together and then, with the support of a forest medicine walk, seek guidance in nature for future which can support us in carrying the burden for a better tomorrow, for everyone. We will co-create the training with guest trainers, who are experts in different methodologies (embodied dance, nonviolent communication, theatre…).
In addition to the training, we would like to publish some of the short activities in the form of cards-, which can be used in non-formal and formal settings- for building appreciation for everything around us, with simple, deep, daily activities.
We wish that every person who will participate on our training will feel and practice the experiential activities further and invite their target groups to work on the four levels- spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual. By deconstructing the inhibitions set by our minds, we would like for all of us to feel and learn in a freer, embodied way. Nature plays an important and necessary part in all of this. The project will invite the participants to change how they learn about themselves, their relationships and the world. With their support and feedback we will continue with the organization of the Four winds trainings, tailoring it in a way that it will truly offer a 4-level experience and invite the world to do less thinking, limiting and more feeling, relating and doing.
Here is the invitation to the training: https://www.salto-youth.net/tools/european-training-calendar/training/four-winds.8595/
You can follow more on our FB: https://www.facebook.com/lojtradrustvo
And webpage: https://www.drustvolojtra.si/