Bratislava-Banská Bystrica (Slovakia). The two communities of the Slovak Province, in collaboration with the Salesian Family, offer state and ecclesial schools the “Orientation Days” program, for the integral development of young people. The program is aimed at pupils aged 10 to 16 years. The primary objective of the program is the prevention of socio-pathological phenomena through experiential pedagogy.
Schools are increasingly interested in the program. The program lasts 3 days (from 8:AM to 4:PM) in the Salesian Youth Center in Bratislava and Banská Bystrica. It is attended by the whole class with the teacher. Together they choose one of the proposed topics: self-knowledge, class relations, career choices, relationships with partners. The training team is composed of the FMA Coordinators, SDBs, adult animators and lay people, experts in pedagogy and psychology who work together to prepare an appropriate course for each class situation.
“I am very satisfied with the Orientation Days. It is a new field in which we, as a Salesian family, have entered with many years of educational experience, competence, wealth of charism, and humility. I think it is significant to collaborate with schools, to cooperate with the City, with the Government, with other educational and advisory institutions, and therefore to unite strengths for the good of young people in our city” said Sister Paulína Mäsiarová FMA, Coordinator of the Project in Banská Bystrica.
For the realization of the courses, the informal environment is very important, allowing the participants to exit from the scholastic reality. Through experiences and games, students are placed in new, fun, but also demanding situations. They have the time to stop, rethink, look at their problems from a distance, and eventually opt for the next step or direction in life.
Over three years, 10 courses have been realized in which more than 1,000 students have participated.
“The young come to us without expectations and with some skepticism. They are positively surprised with what they live here. They feel at ease with us and at the end of the day, all wish that the course had lasted longer“, comments Fr. Jozef Špalek SDB, Director of the SDB Community.
“These were the most beautiful three days that I spent with my classmates over the years!“ one of the participants said.
The Orientation Days program was instituted in Germany, and since 1996, it has been implemented by the Salesians in the Czech Republic at Fryšták. Presently, there are 100 courses each year. We are working closely in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia to form the Formators and improve this work internationally.