'The Way'

Youth Exchange - September 2017

The Way is a Youth exchange that will involve a group of young people from St.Patrick’s School to meet with a group of Spanish youngsters, and walk 150kms of the Camino de Santiago together. The idea started to take shape during an Adventurous Journey which some boys were doing in order to gain the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Many were showing the wish to challenge themselves further by going on a longer journey somewhere abroad. The idea continued to simmer slowly, until a few months later a full-fledged program was developed, potential partners in Spain were contacted, and an application was submitted under Erasmus + (Key Action 1 for Youth Mobility).

The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. The history of the Camino goes back to the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) when the tomb of the evangelical apostle was discovered on the Iberian Peninsula. Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela became a peregrination point for the entire European continent. During the middle ages, people walked out of their front doors and started off to Santiago, which was how the network grew up.

Some people set out on the Camino for spiritual reasons; many others find spiritual reasons along the Way as they experience a more simple way of life, search for a deeper meaning or

understanding of life, and meet other pilgrims who are on a similar quest. This youth exchange has the aim to give this group of young people an experience of ‘time out’ from normal life – from the technology that often dominates our days, the usual comforts which we so often take for granted, and from everything that has become our comfort zone. The outer journey towards Santiago is in fact a metaphor for a more important inner journey of self-discovery, where you challenge yourself to discover your strength and resilience, and where you find time for reflection. It is also about adventure, experiencing a different culture and way of life, and about getting to know other people from Spain and from all over the world.

The project in terms of the Youth exchange itself has very specific aims to meet. There is a 12 week preparatory phase where participants will meet regularly to learn different skills that they will find handy during this journey. These include map reading and navigation skills, route planning, research about the region where we will be travelling, and basic first-aid. It is also important to develop a good team spirit between all participants, since this will help us keep in good spirits when the going gets tough, and when challenges are experienced. Participants also need to prepare themselves both physically and psychologically to spend 12 days away from home and away from the usual comforts. This includes developing a healthy life-style, eating properly, and regular training. A number of sessions have also been prepared to stimulate reflection, sharing, and interaction with the Spanish group.

Until you hear from us again after this journey, we would like to wish all the participants a Buen Camino!

Audrey Agius

Photos by Eman Azzopardi