Believe it or not, there are numerous benefits of Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. Participation in this programme makes you change your attitude towards other cultures, languages and business management. You will also start long-term relationships with other companies. Due to exchange abroad, entrepreneurs learn how to keep work-life balance and become more aware of their cultural identities. They find out that everyone is equal despite sex, race, nationality or background. There are many stories related to Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs that can be told.
Being a Teacher Training College graduate and having a master`s degree in English Literature, Wiesława Dalecka set up her own Creative Language School in Toruń (Poland). No sooner had she started her entrepreneurial adventure (a start-up in Academic Business Incubators) than she got to know about Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs during one of trainings. Then, she decided to have a few sleepless nights and spend them on filling in an online application and writing the Business Plan in English. Even if it was time-consuming and she was pressed for time, she did not give up so as not to miss such a chance! She achieved the goal! She became one of a few Poles (and the only one in The Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship) whose application in the EYE programme was accepted. Dreams always come true with a bit of luck and a lot of persistence.
It was Italy that she was enormously interested in, thus she took cooperation with a company from this particular country into consideration. UniversoSud (Antonio Candela, Manuela Stefanelli and Monica Lo Giudice) became her exchange partner. A few days after Wiesława`s 25th birthday, she set off a two-day journey to the unknown, in other words, to Potenza (Basilicata, Italy). As soon as her train arrived at the platform, she felt as though she had been playing in a movie because she noticed an Italian woman holding a sheet of paper with her name and surname written on it.
Three months passed rapidly. The best summary of the exchange is a sentence taken from one Italian movie: “when you come to the South of Italy, you cry twice, once when you arrive and again when you leave” (“Benvenuti al Sud”). When she arrived there in November 2013, she could not stand some cultural differences such as siesta or strong Italian coffee. Whereas now she only drinks Italian cappuccino or espresso prepared in moca at home and has a lunch to gain energy for the rest of the day.
What is crucial is that due to EYE she had a chance to take photos which are promoting the region of Basilicata now. She had the opportunity to cooperate with the Italians at her age, full of passion for their work. They taught her how to keep work-life balance, how to organize events from scratch (on the basis of Biennale del Libro Universitario), how to strengthen the cultural attachment. She could combine all her passions together because of learning and speaking languages, being responsible for social media content, taking photos and planning cultural events. Now she is still in touch with her host company.
After some time, Wiesława managed to transform her start-up into a sole proprietorship employing other workers. She learnt that she has to roll up her sleeves to develop her business. Nevertheless, she is pretty stubborn and persistent in her vision of creation a creative language school. She also supports her students by means of social media and free creative meet-ups devoted to culture and languages. Drevnikocur.pl is a surprisingly funny name of the company at first glance, however, it was chosen on purpose. It does not mean a ‘squirrel’ in Czech as many people think, even though there is a squirrel in the logo. She wants to prove she is playing with the language. It shows that an informal and pleasant atmosphere is essential in teaching because it makes students less afraid of studying. What is more, tea or coffee is served with cookies (sometimes Wiesława bakes squirrel-shaped gingerbread cookies for her learners). The interior of classrooms is also colorful, bright and optimistic. Rarely do the students take tests, but their knowledge is checked through games and quizzes in every single lesson. Emphasis is put on practical activities, languages used in everyday situations, the news and interests. The teachers do their best to meet their learners` needs and expectations. Therefore, groups consist of 4 people only. All these things make drevnikocur.pl unique. “We are some kind of family. Our students` success gives us energy to teach eagerly. Although it is not easy to run a language school, we love what we do” she says.
She is open-minded, eager to acquire new skills and abilities. She claims that entrepreneurs should not rest on their laurels. They should take action, observe other companies, meet clients` needs, be flexible and open-minded. Running own business or studying a foreign language is like a flower, you have take care of it to make it flourish, otherwise it wilts. Hence, Wiesława made a decision to join the program again, but this time as a Host Entrepreneur. She reactivated the cooperation with her previous IO contact in Italy, Paolo Montemurro. She is likely to start a mutual cooperation with other NEs. Currently she is in touch with a NE, Çağdaş Torbacıoğlu, from Turkey. This time she will be holding a sheet of paper with the NE`s name and surname written on it. The next story is going to start, however, this time it will take place in Poland.