You looked for opportunities to learn something 'extra' already as teenager. You studied social work, then mastered in Community and Civil Studies, and currently you a PhD student at the University of Pécs, but you never gave up further training, you own initiatives and volunteering, either. Since 2009, you've been the Chairman of the Federation of Children's and Youth Municipal Councils. You are driven by working for youth and communities, as well as by a need to renew. What has the Erasmus+ programme add to all that? We talked to Barnabás Gulyás.

Role model Barnabás Gulyás: "We want to give something back from what these programmes gave us."

You have been involved in lots of projects and training.  Which one of them do you consider the top of your personal and professional development?

It was the Training of Trainers Erasmus+ project in 2015, targeting youth professionals. I was in the exceptional situation that I could only concentrate on how to improve as a trainer for an entire year.    As a consequence, the work conducted within our Federation is now even more conscious and well-founded. Of course, the programme did not only give us a huge impetus at an organisational level, but also professionally. I have become self-confident and even more open.

How would you describe such a programme?

This training was heavily practise-oriented. Of course, it included theory, too, but it was basically meant to give us an opportunity to gain tangible, practical knowledge to be able to organise, implement and evaluate a high-quality learning process for young people.

You also had a chance to challenge yourselves as trainers during the training, I suppose.

Yes, we did. I teamed up with a Bulgarian, an Italian and a Spanish participant, one of them visually impaired. Managing without visual tools was itself a great challenge professionally; what's more, our subject matter was conflict management.

What other benefits has this programme brought since then?

Later we continued the work with the two other Hungarian participants. We felt that we wanted to give back something from what we had been given. We have organised a workshop on self-managed learning in cooperation with Tempus Public Foundation, but we also started a bigger challenge. We designed a training programme on using silence in youth work. I'd long planned to use silence as a tool more during my work. I wanted to find out whether silence made sense. So we wrote an Erasmus+ youth helpers' mobility grant application, which received 99 out of 100 points. We held a seven-day training session for professionals from eight countries, of which we spent half a day in complete silence. It was an unforgettable experience.

You had five times more applicants for the training than planned. Did this take you by surprise?

Yes, a little. Today's man has a problem with silence, although if you learn to manage it, you can use it to help others a lot. Young people, for example, who turn to you with some problem, and whom you need to be able to listen to properly, all the more because very often you only have one chance to do so. I consider silence and active listening the most important tools of building trust. Besides, it also helps the one who is silent, because this way he or she will have enough time to consider the right response.

What other, even personal benefits did these programmes have?

At the ToT, I worked with Eva, my Spanish co-trainer, and we became very good friends. Since then, she has been one of the steady points in my life, to whom I can always turn to when I have doubts professionally. It's a little like having a constant supervisor, while we're also friends.

What occupies your mind these days?

One of the most important questions in my head is how to use our youth work to prevent towns and villages from aging? Also, what can young people do for this? At the Federation, we constantly work on increasing the visibility and quality of the youth work conducted at local municipalities.

Last modified: 18-04-2019