European Citizenship Trimester Programme for intercultural exchange

The European Citizenship Trimester Programme (ECTP) is a three-month intra-European immersive exchange programme for young people, which takes place from September to December each year, combining intercultural exchange with citizenship education contents.

During the ECTP the participants, young people aged 15-18 from across Europe, go abroad to live with local host families and to attend local schools. During the programme the students participate in least three educational camps with non-formal learning sessions aimed at developing intercultural and citizenship competences, through reflection on their exchange experience. At the end of the exchange all participants meet at a four-day joint camp in Brussels to share their experiences. They attend workshops on active citizenship, tackling topics such as human rights, gender equality, volunteering, sustainable development, voting, etc. They reflect on how these aspects are dealt with in their home and host countries, and learn how European institutions tackle them. They also visit the European Parliament to get a hands-on feeling of the work of European institutions. Finally, they learn about methods and skills needed in order to initiate and implement their own local project back home.

The programme has been run annually since 2009 by the European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL) together with its member network of 28 AFS organisations in Europe, and in cooperation with local schools. AFS Intercultural Programmes is an international network of non-profit volunteer organisations promoting intercultural learning through individual student exchanges. AFS exchange participants are supported in their learning by an extraordinary network of volunteers who provide educational activities based on the AFS Educational Goals. For the promotion of active citizenship, volunteers use the ACTIVE Manual of Activities developed by EFIL.

The annual number of ECTP participants has increased from 100 to nearly 300. During the exchange experience, the young people reflect on different ways of participating in communities through the “intercultural lens”. They feel empowered to be active citizens: many of the participants go on to become volunteers for civil society organisations. They share their learning outcomes with their own communities, families, friends and schoolmates.

Authors: Izabela Jurczik-Arnold and Elisa Briga