By Nicole Grixti
In youth exchanges supported by Erasmus+, groups of young people from different countries jointly design, prepare, and carry out a work program with a mixture of workshops, debates, role-plays, simulations, and outdoor activities. Such youth exchanges help youths develop their competencies, discover new cultures, meet new people, strengthen their values of solidarity, and become aware of socially relevant topics.
I participated In the “Welcome to the Chocolate Factory” youth exchange, which took part in a beautiful place in Germany, Bremen. The aim of the exchange was to discuss everything that is there to know about chocolate in relation to a sustainable life. We delved into the origins of the cocoa plant, how it is farmed, the primary processing, and the historical development as cash crops around the equator for small-scale farmers. After a great discussion on chocolate and learning more about it, we then learned the process of creating chocolate. With the help of a chocolatier, we prepared homemade chocolate. Moreover, we presented all the results we learned to the public in a public event with great emphasis on ecology and the development of chocolate.
Aims and Objectives
The workshops were dedicated to multiple topics relating to the production of chocolate, from the primary process of farming the cocoa bean to the chocolate one buys from the store. We first started discussing the ecology of the cocoa plant and the specific requirements the tree needs to produce the plant. We then discussed a social topic on the international distribution of cocoa beans and the imbalance of profits, since the beans are sold for very little prices. Adding to that, we discussed the historical development of child labor and slavery and the ongoing process of this.
This was an amazing opportunity as I learned about the economy of the cocoa plant and chocolate production. I also learned about the countries that dominate cocoa farming due to their climate and how the big chocolate companies are dominating and controlling the chocolate production itself. It was also interesting to learn about the interdependencies between producers and consumers of cocoa and chocolate.
I would recommend young youths to attend such Erasmus+ projects to enhance their knowledge and meet people from around the world. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and get acquainted with foreign cultures. Such opportunities will also help to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.