Erasmus+ Exchange Veterans – Tjaša Kern

The ‘To Train Your Own Sustainapreneur’ Erasmus+ project has finished. Because of the turbulent Covid year of 2020, the timeline needed to be reprogrammed and new dates and schedules created. However, we reevaluated, planned anew, and successfully concluded our project, as befits entrepreneurs.

The Key Action 1 project, financed by the European Union and the Slovenian national agency Movit, was meant to train young people and educators in the principles of sustainable entrepreneurship and living. This ultimate goal of the project, however, was by far not the only one. Just as pivotal were meeting new cultures, getting acquainted with new people, and sharing new ideas – and, of course, establishing new friendships. 60 students in all participated in the project, few of them remaining from the beginning till the end, while most joined the project for only one or two exchanges. One such is Tjaša Kern of Gimnazija Novo mesto, who is now in the second year of the Novo mesto Gymnasium.

We spoke with Tjaša after the end of the final exchange in Novo mesto. First, we wanted to know, why she decided to join the project and what here expectations were. Tjaša said that her main expectation was to meet and learn about other cultures, gain knowledge about other living and educational environments. She expected to get a first-hand insight into what her peers from other cultures do in school, how they receive school and what they do after school.

Tjaša professed, that the exchange with Estonian and Irish students in Novo mesto has meet all her expectations and has in fact by far exceeded them. She said she had learned so much about entrepreneurship, about team work, and about how to work with people. She also got insights into how to plan for the founding of a sustainable enterprise and what counts the most. Namely, it is important, Tjaša said, that you are always open with people and play with all cards on the table, also open to new cultures and ideas.

Thus, the project has had a huge impact on her. She will always treasure the memories of the moments spent with her new friends. It has also opened up new opportunities for career choice. For one, Tjaša would like to start a business one day, which will be focused on sustainability. One of the most important benefits of the project for Tjaša was definitely making new friends. She said that it is easy to get to know the people of your community, but it is also very important to know people from elsewhere. It is people that one has around the world that are so important for future endeavors. Tjaša now has friends form both the Baltic region as well as the Eastern Atlantic seaboard.

Naturally, a project like the one that has just ended, attracts a lot of attention and pique the curiosity of other students from her class. Tjaša has gladly disseminated all her experiences and knowledge in her class and community. She has been able to share the knowledge gained about business modelling, about entrepreneurship, and sustainable ideas and work. Tjaša admitted that the concept of the business model was hard at first for her peers, but with a lot of effort and work, they were able to grasp the basic idea. In the end, they were quite taken in by the idea of building their own sustainable projects in the future.

All good things must come to an end, and so did, too, this project. However, we can say with confidence that it has reached its main objectives, which is empowering young people in the ideas of sustainable entrepreneurship, cultural awareness, digital competences, and true friendship. With this knowledge, it is then easy to plan for future similar projects and always aim a bit higher than before.

Janez Gorenc