Partners in youth work
One of the most important priorities in the international youth work is to find and nurture a proper international partner. There are plenty of candidates to choose from, but finding the right one takes time and a lot of work. The right partner doesn’t necessarily have the same political, financial or social situation or even the same target group, staff and placing as you do. Sometimes the right partners are the ones that enable you to complement your work and your partnership.
What matters the most are life values and work ethics and for you to learn this about your partners, you need to work with them on several and different types of projects. Be inquisitive, ask, pay attention, became their personal friend, share your culture and your personal life. This is called partnership for a reason.
Why do you need to do all this? For you to know the unknown and to learn the difference between cultural and personal, this is a must! If you plan to make some political projects like strategic partnership, structured dialogue or twinning, then it is necessary for you to learn the political situation and how the local community works. If you plan to make youth exchanges and/or European Voluntary Service and Solidarity Corp, then you should meet the coordinators of these activities to learn about their working style, their regular work and if they make projects themselves or they train a group of young leaders. It is important to learn who your correspondent in these cases is.
It is also good to learn what the references of the staff are, especially when you are the applicant in the project. Some partners are amazing in making projects, but they suck at writing their Partner Organisation Information in the application form. One of our partners for instance wrote this: “... so we know what we are doing.” Yes, you do, but no one else does!
Learn also about where and how they recruit their young participants. Do they have a connection with the local schools or they are strong in using social media. You need to know how surely can secure their participants.
Don’t take this advice and turn it in to the questionnaire. Have fun with your partners while learning about them, taken them to some interesting places, make some team building activities, have a night drink or something and learn to trust each other. But don’t forget to share your own information with them as well. This learning activity is not to judge their work. It is to understand it and to learn from it.