Youth Exchange Leader

Have you participated in a youth exchange? It’s time for you to be a leader!

To be a youth exchange leader is a challenge and a responsible job but in the same time it is fun and it develops your skills and knowledge. To be a leader means that you lead a group of 4 or 5 youngsters aged 16 to 25 all the way from Bulgaria to the venue of the exchange and back. Moreover, you are involved in the planning and implementing the programme of the youth exchange and you organize some workshops. That means you will be involved in the project for at least few months.

Firstly, our leaders participate in a leader training abroad or/and here in Bulgaria. Then comes the planning phase when the leaders of one exchange meet, plan and exchange ideas about the programme and the activities. The leaders take part in the preparation of the young people before the exchange and help them throughout it. The evaluation process after the exchange is as important as the actual youth exchange because it helps the organizers to exchange good practices, to let us train the leaders and the youngsters better, so that everybody has a joyful ad useful experience in future.

To be a leader is not something that you can read about from the books (but this can have its impact), it is something that you have to experience. Leadership skills can be acquired in time, through trainings and personal experience. The most crucial thing about leading a youth exchange group is to be open-minded willing to improve your skills and learn new stuff. To develop yourself as a youth leader is a unique process that contributes to your personal development and as such is useful in terms of career.

Youth Exchange Leader FAQ

What are my responsibilities?

The leader has two main responsibilities. First of all is to take care of his/her national group. The second one is to form a team with the other group leaders and plan and organize the activities during the exchange.

Agreeing to be a leader means far more than just 2 weeks spent with other young people abroad. It requires your involvement for at least 3 months.

What happens before the Youth Exchange?

You will take part in a leader training either abroad or in Bulgaria and will have the opportunity to get to know and exchange ideas with other leaders. More info in the Training and Evaluation section.

What comes next is the Advanced Planning Visit (APV). As a leader you will attend the visit to the venue of the exchange and get to know the whole leaders group and the youth exchange coordinator. Normally, it takes place a month (and a half) before the actual youth exchange. The main goal for you will be to form a team with the other leaders, to discuss the programme and may be even contribute with some new input. During the APV tasks are divided and when you come back you are responsible to do it yourself or together with your national group depending on the situation.

You will take part in the training of the Bulgarian youngsters from your group and from other exchanges. Part of your responsibilities is to convey all the important info to the participants, so that they know where there are going and what they are doing. Meetings with youngsters’ parents are very important as well, so that they know you and thrust you their kid.

So, when all of this is done you together with your group and youth exchanges coordinator have to plan your trip to the venue of the exchange. The leader should take care of the trip and the logistics – of course delegating tasks is part of your job to support the individual development of the youngsters.

What about during the exchange?

You have responsibilities towards your group in terms of mentoring and supporting the participants to reveal some of their skills and to help them overcome some difficulties. Additionally, together with the other leaders you are the ones responsible for the positive atmosphere and the group dynamics among all of the youth exchange participants. You will lead some workshops and help others lead.

What should I do after the exchange?

When you come back you will be required to participate in evaluation meetings, to convey your experience and good practices. More info in the Training and Evaluation Section.

Don’t let all this scare you, everything is combined with tons of humour, good mood and jokes.

What are the requirements?

In order to be a leader you have to be over 18 and already have some experience in youth activities. It’s obligatory to take part in the trainings that we provide abroad or in Bulgaria. What we expect from you is to have some free time to devote to the youth exchange a few months before, during, and after it. So the most important thing is to be motivated and responsible towards your duties.

What type of training and evaluation will there be?

Normally CVS Bulgaria sends participants to at least one leader training per year abroad. These trainings are developed throughout a lot of years of cooperation and exchange of experience and knowledge among CVS and our partners. Moreover, we offer Bulgarian leaders to take part in regular meetings in our office where we exchange our experience, invite some guests with more experience and develop our leadership skills in a very informal environment. Taking part of at least one of the two forms of training we offer is obligatory in order to be a youth exchange leader with CVS Bulgaria.

As a leader you will be asked to fill in an evaluation form for the exchange once it’s over. You will also need to meet with the youth exchanges coordinator to discuss the exchange:  what was good, what was not as good, and what could’ve been better. At the end of the season when all of the exchanges are over we welcome all of our leaders to get together and evaluate once more their work and get some new ideas for next year. Together with our partners we organize an international evaluation meeting where leaders form different exchanges gather and discuss how to improve their projects. This national group of leaders chooses representatives to be sent to the international meeting.

What are the financial requirements?

When it comes to finances, accommodation and food during the APV and the exchange are fully covered. Transport costs for the APV are paid by the organizers as well and for the youth exchange you must to pay 30% of your travel expenses.

Important: In most of cases you will need to prepay the full amount of your traveling costs which will be reimbursed to you a couple of months after the youth exchange. The delay is due to reasons of financial reports to the European Commission, which finances the exchanges.

When it comes to trainings and evaluations, if they are international the conditions are different every time. You will receive information about it in advance. Normally, food and accommodation is covered and you will be asked to pay for part of your travel expenses.

What are the benefits of being a YE leader?

To be a youth exchange leader means far more than being a babysitter. It requires you to develop specific leadership skills, to learn how to support your peers, and to help them develop their own personality. Youth leaders learn how to work in a team and how to divide tasks. It teaches you to take responsibility for others and how to communicate with people from different backgrounds.

To be a youth exchange leader brings you together with other young and active people with whom you can share and exchange ideas, working methods, funny stories, and more. Participating in a youth exchange and in an international training gives you the opportunity to get to know new places, cultures, and traditions. It broadens your mind in every sense and contributes to your personal development.

What should I do now?

If you are ready to start or you have more questions or you just want to receive some more info contact us.