Budapest, February 8th… The European metropolis is slowly filling with the gust of youth ideas which sustain within themselves the idea of peace as a complementary activity in everyone’s life. 35 participants from 16 countries gathered in the European Youth Center in Budapest where the last event of the series of meetings at the Peace Work Institute was held. The previous three meetings were held at Istanbul, Erevan, and Strasbourg. This event was closing of the whole “Roots for Reconciliation” project which was implemented by YMCA Europe.
In the project, participated YMCAs movements from several countries, among them YMCA Macedonia. From the very beginning in 2007, it was organized as a collection of activities that encourage numerous participation in a network which exists for creating favorable conditions for cooperation between countries that geographically belong to Europe, for the aim of strengthening peace, stability, and justice in the world. The first project component was finished in 2011, but recognizing the positive influence by the few activities organized from the beginning till then, it was decided that there would be another component which would spread the message that peace is a possible long-term solution around the world.
The resulted activities from this project are the Peace Work Institute and a few festivals. Also a work Manual of the Institute, which will, after the official publishing, represent an excellent resource center for the further work of realizing future peace ideas. There were also projects implemented by three tandem-grant groups of the participant countries in the project: Balkan project (Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, England and Northern Ireland), Armenia – Turkey exchange, and study visit of Nagorno Karabakh, a country which isn’t an acknowledged country in the world yet. Because of internal administrative obstacles, only one project wasn’t realized – the exchange between Georgia and Russia.
Encouraging digital knowledge of the participants of all of the sessions which were organized within the project, the main message sent to Europe is that youth activism is, and will be, one of the lead activities which will provide the final results. We were introduced to the new opportunities in the development of digital activism, starting from one photo, sentence, or a short video, to informative magazines and newly designed web pages, spread around the world network.
We, the young people with our own ideas, with a different view of the world, started to write the new European history through traditional sweet meals from every participant country. Night of chocolate from Northern Ireland and England, munchmallow from Serbia, Bosnian sweetheart, kvass and candied dried fruit from Ukraine, the irreplaceable bajadera, home-made halva, and all that while in the background, a few cultures were mixing into friendships and a music that initiated the dance between East and West Europe.
Life is one, but the different worlds between us are many. There are many obstacles, and even more closed minds. But today, we’ve proved once more that our idea is the biggest thought in Europe’s head, very small and complicated, but very loud and meaningful: TOGETHER FOR PEACE.
By Aleksandra Andonovska, YMCA Bitola, Macedonia
Original article here