Participating in TOSCA as a mentor


Elena Samsonova is sharing her experience from a TOSCA training course organised by Austrian National Agency in Yspertal, Austria. It took place On February 24-28.

When I arrived at a beautiful cosy inn in Yspertal on Monday evening to immediately engage in the activities, I did know that the training will be so fruitful and truly eye-opening for me. The 4 days became an exciting experience of non-formal education – from goal-setting to reflection on the outcomes, which far exceeded my expectations. 

I was the only mentor at the event, as I learned during the introduction tour and the team-building activities, so I started to worry a bit: will I be able to fulfil my goals and learn something that will allow me to improve my mentoring skills? Will my own experience be relevant and useful? How, the trainers organised the process so that everyone’s contribution was appreciated, and we were able to learn not only from them, but also from each other, and everyone had an opportunity to contribute. I did during the “Open Space” sessions, where we could discuss mentoring issues – I could share my experience with the participants who wanted to implement the mentoring scheme in their organisations and participate in a brainstorming session, during which we found more opportunities for future learning and becoming a better mentor.

However, even more important for me was listening to the trainers and other participants – experts in the field of youth work. On the third day of the training we got a chance to develop our own projects in teams – we had a small team with whom we worked on a short-term in-country volunteering project. Thanks to my team mate’s expertise and knowing Estonian realities, we developed a project, which I hope will be implemented soon! As I had no previous project-writing experience, that was a really transformational exercise for me. 

And, of course, I learned a lot of new activities I am looking forward to implementing in my mentoring and educational activities.

However, perhaps the most important part was making new connections, getting more personal and professional contacts, and feeling a part of a powerful (even if not so big) community – a community that can and will make the world a better place.

I would like to thank Austrian and Estonian National Agencies that made it possible (also for me), my organisation – EstYES (I promise, I will be a better mentor!), our fantastic trainers and all the participants of Yspertal TOSCA-2020.


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