Food Fusion, a youth exchange project held in Riga, Latvia, from July 2 to July 6, 2022, brought together young participants from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Spain, and eight accompanying group leaders. The project aimed to foster unity in diversity through the exploration of creativity in cooking and in life, culture, healthy eating habits, and healthy lifestyles through non-formal learning and experience sharing.
Food, being a universal language, played a central role in this project, acting as a means of social integration and connecting different traditions. Located in the heart of Riga, near the medieval Old Town, the project utilized food to promote communication, cultural richness, and social integration.
The main objective of the Baltic Buffet – Food Fusion project was to create awareness of the vast cultural heterogeneity of the world, encourage reflection on discrimination in society, and advocate for respect for diversity and interreligious dialogue. By studying different dishes and cooking traditions from various cultures, the project aimed to promote critical thinking, cultural understanding, and unity.
During the five-day program, 64 participants engaged in a variety of activities focused on personal and professional development, unity in diversity, and community engagement. The program included motivational seminars, interactive games, debates, workshops, and voluntary work in the local community.
The project emphasized the active involvement of all participants in their own development and responsibilities. It encouraged participants to create their own projects and provided them with tools for media literacy, critical thinking, and youth initiative. The diverse backgrounds, environments, and customs of the participants added a rich element of cultural diversity and common values to the project.
Throughout the program, participants acquired new artistic and creative skills, enhanced communication skills through cooking and yoga, improved their understanding of media functions through ICT tools, and actively contributed to project development. The project also aimed to promote the principles of the Erasmus+ program and the use of the YouthPass tool for non-formal learning, while fostering the fight against discrimination and encouraging entrepreneurial spirit and youth initiatives.
The Baltic Buffet – Food Fusion project successfully achieved its goals, leaving a lasting impact on the participants. Many participants reported improvements in their English language skills, which enhanced their ability to communicate openly and confidently with people from different cultures. The project also facilitated intercultural communication, enabling participants to understand and appreciate diverse cultural practices, customs, and behaviors.
Moreover, the project increased awareness of healthy lifestyles and food nutrition among the participants, emphasizing the importance of proper nutrition for achieving sports and gymnastics goals. The exploration of different cuisines and cooking techniques from various cultures, along with the understanding of the spiritual aspects of food, such as Ayurveda principles, broadened participants’ perspectives on healthy eating.
Digital skills were also enhanced through the project, providing participants with valuable experience in using digital tools and platforms for communication and research. This development aligns with the priorities for youth work in Europe for the years 2021-2027.
The Baltic Buffet – Food Fusion project contributed significantly to the personal development of the participants, enabling them to gain new experiences, learn new skills, and achieve their individual goals. The project fostered a positive change in participants’ attitudes and behaviors, promoting a more open-minded and positive outlook towards local interactions and people from diverse cultures.
By focusing on the unity in diversity that exists through common interests, the project successfully created an intercultural and culinary exchange between the Baltic States. The long-term effect of the project aimed at empowering youth to give back to their communities and become active citizens.
The Baltic Buffet – Food Fusion project stands as a remarkable example of how youth exchange programs can promote unity, diversity, and personal growth through culinary.
For more information about the Baltic Buffet – Food Fusion project and future initiatives, please check the project’s pages: https://erasmus-plus.ec.europa.eu/projects/search/details/2020-1-LV02-KA105-003128