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Forum Synergies and Latvian Rural forum Scholarship programme brings people together

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In October under the Scholarship programme, the Latvian Local Action Group “Jūras Zeme” was hosting  a young man from Croatia Franjo Toic. To encourage other young peole to participate un the programme, here is a story from Franjo http://www.forum-synergies.eu/article154.html

Early this year, I noticed the information that there was an open call for scholarship provided by Forum Synergies. I never had the opportunity to be on an exchange program, so I decided to apply and after some time of thinking I’ve decided to go for Latvia and the host from LAG Juras Zeme (formerly PPP Sernikon). Since I’m in Croatia on an island, I wanted something a bit different and I thought that Latvia could provide me with a lot of experience, knowledge and new ideas from the people and organizations I will meet. And that was correct at the end!

In June I got my application approved and I was very happy and excited. I started my planning and at the end of September I flew from Croatia to Poland and then finally in Latvia. There I met with my host Aris Adlers from LAG Juras Zeme who was my “right hand” to organize everything during that period. He had a great plan which gave me opportunity not only to see the landscape of Latvia in the rural areas but also to meet great positive people that are doing great things to help the local initiatives. I was able to travel a lot through Latvia and to see the differences between the coastal and rural part. I can mention places like Nīca, Liepāja, Saulkrasti, Jūrmala and others that are beautiful coastal cities, each one a bit different but still very attractive from a touristic point of view. Liepāja gave me a beautiful view how a city after a huge devastation (WW2) can achieve great success. On the other hand, in villages like Bebrene, Tukums, Gulbene and other in the inner part of Latvia, I had a chance to see positive examples of people that had a vision and successfully implemented it.

I noticed that Latvians have a great respect for nature and the ecological footprint they leave on the nature. Littering is very rare, and they keep their fields clean from invasive vegetation. The Latvian culture is quite different from Croatian, and even though people say Latvians are introverts, I can’t agree. On every family farm or agriculture business I went, everyone was really happy to meet me and explained all about their activities. I’ve noticed that there is quite a big difference between infrastructure in rural and coastal areas. In the rural ones, LAGs are trying to provide the local community with sufficient help to activate inhabitants and afterward lead to bigger projects that could make a positive influence. At the end of the exchange program, I was immensely thankful to both Forum Synergies, Latvian Lauku forum and LAG “Juras Zeme” to provide me such a beautiful experience. I really hope to visit Latvia more often in  the future to meet my new friends.