Over a period of 1.5 years I worked as an interpreter in a juvenile penitentiary. This was part of a project. The Romanian state wanted to reform their education system for juvenile offenders. And so, staff from the 2 Romanian juvenile penitentiaries came several times to Austria for study visits in the local penitentiaries.
During this time, I worked between 1 and 2 weeks per month in the Austrian juvenile penitentiary. These were long days, of up to 10 - 11 hours.
The program was very theoretical, and after the first study visit round was completed for all the 6 groups, the program manager asked me if I had any ideas how the next 2 rounds could be improved. I had heard a lot of comments from the Romanian participants, that the Austrian system was great, but it could never work in Romania. So I told the project manager that, and suggested that it would maybe be beneficial to give the study participants a practical task to do with the youth.
In the second round, the Romanian staff were tasked with organising an activity per group, together with the teenagers: a karaoke show, an Easter atelier, an outdoor excursion and several other activities came to happen. The amazing thing was that, after this practical second visit, they all went back home and started to organise great activities with the kids in the penitentiaries where they worked. This was a breakthrough for the project. And I guess also for me, because I was amazed at how an idea can turn into something bigger.