From Entrepreneurship to Friendship

Erasmus+ project ” Atrévete a emprender”: entrepreneurship unites students from Spain, Portugal, Poland, Italy, Greece and Croatia

During the past two years (2017-2019), the students of Gospodarska škola Varaždin, Croatia participated in an Erasmus+ project called „Atrévete a emprender“, which in Spanish, the official language of the project, means „Dare To Engage In Entrepreneurship“ . Spanish language and entrepreneurship connencted six schools from six European countries: IES Melchor de Macanaz, Hellín, Spain; I.I.S. „Vespucci-Colombo“, Livorno; Italy, Gymnasio Armeniou, Armenio Larissa, Greece, LLXXVIII LO im. Marii Pawlikowskej_Jasnorzewskiej w Warszawie, Poland, Agrupamento de Escolas de JoséRelvas Alpiarça, Portugal and Gospodarska škola Varaždin, Croatia. One of the main objectives of the project was to develop students’ entrepreneurial skills, but it was also an amazing opportunity for them to improve their language and communication skills.

Croatia was the first partner to host the activities. It was up to them to break the ice and set the standards for the other countries to follow. Everyone was very satisfied with how it all turned out and they set a very good example. An important thing to mention is that when students arrived in a host country, the host students provided a place for them to stay. They said it was challenging to take care of someone, but fun at the same time. It was also really interesting and funny communicating with some of them, because not everyone was able to speak either English or Spanish very well at the beginning. However, owing to the project, the students were able improve their language skills, so the next time they met, you could see the progress.

In order to learn entrepreneurial skills, the students in each partner school had to start up their own virtual company before the whole project started The students of Croatia named their company Cro-Suplast. Its main objective was making souvenirs out of plastic bags and thus raise awareness about recycling and preserving the environment.

The project consisted of a lot of workshops which were based on economy, entrepreneurship, tourism and digital competencies so the students could learn a lot about starting their own business. In Warsaw, Poland, they visited IBM and The Heart. They were particularly impressed by the manager of The Heart, Tomasz Rudolf. They were inspired by his story about creating a huge company from scratch and and making them believe that anything is possible if you have the right skills.

„In Poland we visited the HEART, the company that deals with start-ups. It was really inspirational, because the manager of the HEART was really young and very very succesful… It was really an inspiring story. The way he talked and expressed himself about the way he started the job and how he had nothing and built everything by himself… It’s really amazing.“ – Leonarda

Italian specialty “ponce” (coffee with rum) at a virtual companies fair in Hellin, Spain

In Spain, the students took part in a fair where they sold products made by their virtual company. This was an opportunity for them to try out their marketing skills. Their products were perceived really well by the locals. Each country had a stall where they presented their products: Spanish eco-soaps, Croatian souvenirs, Greek healthy snacks based on cereal, Pollish gingerbread buiscits, Italian ponce (coffee with rum). The Croatian students were the first to run out of stock, which is interesting since their products were the most expensive ones. Maybe this was due to the fact that the objects could be used in everyday life, such as pencil cases, key chains, coasters, etc.

Croatian students with the Cro Suplast products

There were also a lot of side benefits from the projects. It was filled with lots of funny moments and learning about cultures and how things work in other countries. For example, in Greece, nobody pays much attention to traffic lights (but suprisingly, it doesn’t cause chaos in the streets). In Spain, if somebody wants to throw a party somewhere, they rent an abandoned house and throw the party there. They also learned about the differences in school systems. For example, in Spain, classes last 55 minutes and the relationship between the teachers and the students is more relaxed.

When the project ended, the students had a better vision of their future profession. Everyone said that they wanted a job in tourism and that the project helped them strengthen the decision even more. They also said that if other students have the chance to participate in this kind of project, they should take it without thinking too much about it. In other words, the objectives of the project were met.

To conclude, it was an unforgettable experience for the students, a journey to cherish for the rest of their lives. As they stated numerous times during the interview, the most important thing about the project was the friendships they had made during it all. And that’s what it’s all about; a project that ends with friendship is a worthwhile project.

„If you have a chance to participate in an Erasmus+ project, you should apply for it. If you manage to get in, I think you will be very pleased to get that kind of experience. Apart from learning about other cultures, improving your language skill, the most valuable part of participating in a project is forming friendships with students across Europe“ – Valentina

Marko Plantak

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