FUSION YDP Trip to Finland

On New Year’s Day, a group of five young people and two youth workers from FUSION YDP, a youth organisation in Youth Work Ireland Midlands, kicked off the new year in style by embarking on an Erasmus trip to Finland. The main goal of this trip was to introduce young people to international travel while engaging in week-long activities centered around digital youth work, STEM, human rights, and video production. This trip was funded by Erasmus and Irish Youth Justice Service.

The group was hosted by the Finnish youth group Skunk on the island of Lappo, and they were joined by peers from Lithuania and young residents of the Finnish archipelago. The journey began with a full day of travel, involving two flights – one to Sweden and another to Finland – followed by a ferry ride to the small island of Mariehamn off the coast of Finland. After spending the first night at the Mariehamn youth centre and meeting youth groups from Lithuania and Finland for breakfast, they took a ferry from Mariehamn to Lappo, where they would spend the rest of their trip.

The initial day on Lappo was dedicated to getting acquainted with the area, meeting new people, and participating in activities to foster comfort and cultural exchange. Young people were amazed by the snowy beautiful scenery and were glad they brought the extra layers as temperatures dipped to -16 degrees on the coldest day. Young people were fascinated by the island that is only roughly 8 square kilometres and has around 30 residents. A very remote location with the local shop only opening twice a week for a 2-hour window, young people were afforded a very different experience than what they would be used to at home.

On the first evening each youth group shared information about their respective countries and cultures to promote mutual understanding and learning. Throughout the week, the youth participants took part in educational workshops such as writing, stop-motion animation, martial arts, human rights, and VR headset usage. They also had the opportunity to attend a movie-making workshop and create short films on sustainability and recycling. The final day was spent exploring Stockholm, Sweden, before flying back to Ireland. The trip was filled with new friendships, lasting memories, and valuable learning experiences for all