Interview with: Serena Mariani, 28 years old, from Italy, PhD student in Law at the University of Macerata, 

I found out the world of non-formal education during my university studies. There was a friend of mine who was always traveling, discovering new cultures and talking about new learning methods she had gotten to know. One day I decided to ask her what it was about and how could she do this. She told me all about it, which made me decide to take part in a non-formal learning programme.

I applied after I decided that it was time to do something “different”. And words can’t say how much I benefited from that experience! The same thing happened when I decided to apply for the first edition of Stay Human. This programme, especially the youth exchange about Gender Based Violence, made me realize more than ever how much non-formal learning can be the key tool for talking about difficult issues and topics. In my opinion, the main difference between non-formal learning and formal learning is that, with non-formal learning, nobody wants to impose you anything. I think that some difficult topics, like Gender Based Violence, could be better addressed in a non-formal environment than in a formal one. Also in the case of our youth exchange, sharing ideas among peers turned out to be the best learning process. 

During our youth exchange about Gender Based Violence we decided to address the topic in an innovative way, going beyond the typical approach, methods and even definitions made in a formal environment. And I dare to say that it was very successful. In general, I understood that we could learn a lot through non-formal education, because it makes you question your own beliefs without imposing anything.

“Non-formal education makes you question your own beliefs without imposing anything.”

The most important change in my life since I got in touch with The Youth Company was that I got the opportunity to organise a youth exchange. After the first time I that I participated in Stay Human, I organised the youth exchange about Gender Based Violence in Italy. This is a topic I really care about in the Italian region where I live. We discussed a lot about Gender Based Violence, its meaning, and causes, and we talked about prevention. We also had live examples. It was nothing but the best non-formal learning experience I ever had! It was intense, fun, deep, trying, emotional… it was unique! And it is great to feel part of the Stay Human community all over Europe!

I made the following programmes possible;

Stay Human 1 – Migrant Rights – Italy – 2016

Stay Human 2 – Gender Based Violence – Italy – 2017