When you find yourself! by Andreja Aušperger

Context of Author

Job title: Project Coordinator

Field of work: Social inclusion, Human Rights, youth information




‘When you find yourself!’ is my personal story about how youth projects changed my life. It talks about the moment when everything started. It explores how the first projects and people that I met there influenced me. How my personal and professional development in the context of international youth projects was going from that moment until today, with the conclusion saying what it is that those projects actually mean for me.

Story in Full

I am one of those people who believe that everything happens with a reason and in the right time. My adventure started with a phone call that, at first, totally changed my plans for summer. In that moment I could not even imagine that it will totally change the direction in which my life will go from that moment on.

It happens sometimes in your life that everything goes downhill and like a domino, it does not stop: you break a long relationship, lose a good friend, fail at important exams, your health gets worse… life loses its sense for a moment. But then my phone rang. A colleague from my NGO called me to ask if I could go and assist a visually impaired girl during the international youth exchange because her assistant cancelled in a last moment. I said “yes”. In the same second when the call ended I said to myself, “Andreja, you are so stupid! Why did you do that?” My plan for that summer was to run away from everything and everyone but since I said I will do it, there was no way back.

And thank God, I did it! During the 12 days, in a foreign country, among 30 other young people I discovered a totally new world that inspired me so much that right after going back home I started to develop an idea for a new international youth exchange. That project idea was applied for at the next deadline, it was approved and implemented, and all within the following six months. But that was still not ‘it’! Several months later I had a chance to participate in a training course, another kind of international youth project. Things that I learned there, the way that I learned them but above all, the individuals who I met there made me realise what I actually wanted to do in my life. Officially, I am a teacher but non-formal education is something that makes the most sense for me.

It has been more than 4 years since that phone call. Today, there are numerous and various youth projects behind me both on the national and international level and there are many ideas in my head that still wait to be realized. Life gave me the opportunity and I was lucky enough to recognize it. I am thankful for all those wonderful people who I met on my way, who transferred to me their knowledge, gave me unconditional support and were (and still are) there for me. In the same way as they were there for me, I am giving my best to be there for other young people. There is nothing better than supporting them to turn their ideas into reality and in the same time watching them grow, both on a personal and professional level. Of course, not everything goes smoothly all the time but if you really love what you do that is not so much important.

Youth projects became my life and when people ask me what is it that I like so much about it, it is hard to say: it is the marvellous mix of ideas, deadlines, travelling, inspiration, new people, new places, passion, tears, trust, misunderstandings, personal growth, creativity, knowledge, disappointment, dynamics, reports, energy, skills, ups and downs… It is something that simply makes me feel alive!