Keyon: My experience changed me more than I even know

Read the story of Keyon, who took part in self-development training “Open Up to Learn” in Portugal. He joined this training through our Step by Step program, which helps youngsters with fewer opportunities to open the door to new options.

Keyon (2)

Keyon introduces himself: I would describe myself and a passionate young energetic young lad who enjoys going out with friends and socialising. Now that I know what opportunities are out there for me I have a real passion now for travelling and working on Erasmus+ projects And hope to continue with these until they tell me I cant anymore.


“When I first heard of the training course I was intrigued as I had never done anything with Erasmus+ or UNA Exchange before. The project consisted of everything that I really enjoy doing, it was based around youth work (which is my passion) and social action, the chance to meet people from around the world in this kind of setting was something I had never done before and was a little bit optimistic to start off with.

All parts of the project seemed really relevant to what some of us do as a job at home, but as well as being relevant, Basia our trainer made them really fun, so that we weren’t just sitting in a room the whole time we went out and did activities. For example we spoke to locals to find out what their dreams are, what they do in their spare time, where they go, what the job market is like. It was set out like a bingo so we all had to find different point and then once we came back we would all present our findings to each other.

Keyon (1)

Tell me what you dream about?
We also made social action project, we had to come up with a campaign idea that we would go out into the community and do during one of the afternoons. During the project we had done a lot around dreams and recognising what your dreams are, so that is what my team decided to run out campaign around. So we walked around Setubal asking lots of different people what they dreams where and how they could achieve this. Once we got everything filmed we went back and spent the rest of the afternoon making a video to show our findings to the other participants and also so that Ananada the host organisation could share it on their social media pages.

For this project we wanted to get the broadest spectrum as we can so we spoke to everyone from fishermen and their sons, to bankers, policemen and even estate agents to get the most difference, but although we wanted loads of different answers. I can’t forget, how we spoke to a young woman who was working as a waitress, we asked her what he dream was, and she told us that it was for her to be able to fully support her family as they weren’t very wealthy and she was the only one in her family to work. This to me hit a heart string and made me see that she was working 2 jobs, for minimalistic pay just so she can support her family.

Recognising your skills
Another part of the training was great session focused on recognising our skills. We had to think hard about what we are actually good at, and to some people this is hard as they are very self critical. We had to think of 3 things each that we were good and had to put a price on them, between 1-5 sweets per skill. Once we had prices them all up we had to go around everyone and trade and haggle for their skills that we wanted and they would come and haggle for the skills that we had. This worked well as once we had finished it was nice to see how people actually got what they needed and then worked with that person during the rest of the programme to help them improve their skills. I also run the public speaking session for the group and I prepared lot of activities focused to our passions. I went through the structure of a speech and how a speech is built. I got everyone then to write a elevator pitch about something their passionate about. Some were a little bit optimistic at the start but by the end everyone had spoke and they all felt proud about their speech.

Keyon (7)

Enjoying the diversity
I enjoyed the diversity between all the participants, we had different ages, jobs, colour, religion and it was a real random selection of people which meant when we came together for feedback sessions we all had different opinions and looks on things which was nice as we could get a broader range of thought on something’s. The language barrier between participants was sometimes challenging.  Although the course was in English, some people didn’t speak very well English so it was hard to get their point across sometimes, but on the other side of that I found it a great learning opportunity to learn languages that I thought I may have never needed like Albanian, Italian, and Russian. We spent most of our free time at a place called the Yellow bus.  It is literally that: a yellow bus that had been converted into a bar/cafe, they had beanbags, chairs and tables as well as refreshing drinks for the hot sun. This place will stay for me forever. It was on the harbour so we could go for a swim if it got to hot, watch boats go past. We had chats, games and real time to just be ourselves and chill out.

Keyon (5)


The project was 7 days of pure fun, engagement and happiness. But the thing I probably enjoyed most was the fact we got to out, interact with the local of Setubal and got to engage with people that live there and are effected by things like unemployment in the local area, because it gave me personally a real sense of realism on what is actually going on in that area and how people live more minimalistic and I could bring my finding back to the UK to share over here.

It’s made me look at other countries in a different light
My experience has changed me more then I even know- from little things like making my bed in the morning and opening the window which makes my day a little brighter to spiritual feelings and things that you can’t explain through text.
It’s made me look at different countries in a different light, issues they face and how they live day by day.  I learnt so much about myself that for the first few weeks I came back it was hard to actually comprehend what had happened when I was out there, because I went out on my own and nobody could understand it as it was my experience. 

I can only encourage you to grab onto the opportunity with both hands and run with it, you never know where it will take you and who you will meet. You would be silly to pass up an opportunity like these.”                


  • Would you like to know more about our Step by Step programme? Find out more about supported volunteering here

  • Are you a local organisation and would like to support your young people with fewer opportunities to volunteer abroad or in Wales? Become our partner!

  • Check out which training opportunities we have for you and gain valuable skills for your future life and career! Choose from a range of courses such as leadership, international youth work, intercultural understanding, and much more.