From the 5th to the 14th of August, eighteen volunteers from around the network took the next step on their learning journey by participating in ESN's annual advanced training for trainers, Eduk8 Forward. Boosting Mental Health is part of the annual work plan 2022 titled “Mental Health Unboxed” funded by the Council of Europe and the European Youth Foundation. By the end of this training, the participants became more aware of the different approaches that they can use as trainers in non-formal education activities. The participants had the space to dive deeper into the topic of mental health by realising the importance of prioritising their individual needs but also gained a deeper understanding of the factors that influence the mental health of international students and youth.

“Eduk8 Forward is a truly unique event and it's hard to know exactly what you're getting into when you sign up. However, what you're getting out of it is unquestionable and potentially life-changing. For me, participating in the Forward was the opportunity I had been waiting for not just to expand on my skills as a trainer, but also to gain a better awareness of where I stand in this world, to find connection with myself, with others, and with Nature.” - Christianna, participant

“When I decided to join Forward, I had the expectation that it would have been normal training for trainers with more advanced topics and I could not be more wrong about it. Forward is such an extraordinary event that is difficult to describe even 2 weeks after the end of it. I had the opportunity to grow and push myself out of my comfort zone as well as to challenge some personal limits I was not even aware of! Most importantly I had the chance of doing it in a protected and safe environment full of amazing and like-minded people! Forward was something I needed but I was not aware how much I needed it. It was very helpful for my growth as a trainer but also as a human being!” - Giovanni, participant


Additionally, they learned about the importance of adapting their approach and their sessions to the needs of participants. By developing their soft skills (active listening, time and stress management) they increased confidence in themselves as trainers and gained knowledge about emotional intelligence, training flows, co-training, and session design.

"Participating at Eduk8 Forward this year was the revelation of a deep and hidden need to be confronted with myself and past decisions. I found a lot of safe spaces: open-minded, careful and loving people who were there for me in order to grow, learn and evolve together. There are no words to describe the process during the training, not enough phrases to define the connections with nature and with the amazing hearts of trainers, mentors and other participants, but sufficient wisdom to discover that letting it be, letting it go and going with the flow bring mindfulness and peace." - Nicolás, participant


“If you left the Eduk8 Starter with a warm feeling in your chest, a love for facilitation and a thirst for a good challenge, you owe it to yourself to attend the Forward as well. Forward held up a mirror right in front of my face and I had a chance to look at all of my strengths, weaknesses, desires, aspirations and limits I was putting on myself. During the event  I learned what it means to challenge myself, to trust others and overall how to be a better trainer.  I believe that nobody can give you an exact answer about Forward but that is the catch, Forward is for each of us exactly what we make out of it. “- Anja, participant

“Taking part in the Forward was something unique. I tried not to create expectations in order to fully enjoy the event, and I did. Each of the people present left something meaningful in my heart and mind. If I had to describe it in one word.” - Andrew, participant

During this advanced, training for trainers participants went through a personalised mentoring process focused on improving their self-awareness and self-empowerment, in order to achieve long-lasting impact;

“Supporting the participants on their journey has been an incredible and very connecting experience! I recommend the role of the mentor to anyone who wants to try out working with people on a more individual level and who is interested in having a glimpse behind the scenes of an advanced training for trainers.” - Linda, mentor