It is our pleasure to inform you that Council of Europe`s Programme Committee on Youth approved our proposal for a study session “Be a Voice not an Echo” to be held in cooperation with the European Youth Centre Budapest.
The study session (a component part of Roots for Peace Project) will take place from the 12th to 18th of September 2021, involving 40 young people from all over Europe.
The latest developments in Europe clearly indicate that hate speech, violence against minorities and radical ideologies are no longer confined to small marginalized groups and are taking more organized shape with political and institutional support in many parts of the continent.
The Europe of today is a playground of confronting world outlooks and there is an alarming trend of growing sympathy towards far-right ideology. Many youth organisations engaged in bringing about positive change are increasingly encountering hate propaganda and speech at different levels that directly or indirectly affect the attitude and behavior of young people they want to serve, thus negatively impacting their work.
In order to offer responses addressing the roots of the problems, they need to constantly grow as learning organisations with adequate capacity and expertise in media literacy and conflict transformation work. Nowadays combating radicalism cannot be an ad hoc area to jump in; it requires certain qualities that come with legacy, mandate, structure, experience and competences.
The aim of this study session organised in cooperation with the Council of Europe`s European Youth Centre Budapest is to scale up the YMCA Europe capacity and action against hate speech using counter and alternative narratives as a tool.
To this end the following specific objectives are set to be achieved within the study session:
- To raise the awareness of participants about the role of narratives in contributing to the spread of hate speech in online mediums and equip them with knowledge and skills on how to combat it through value-based positive narrative.
- To facilitate the sharing of best practices and know-how on spreading counter and alternative narratives (including from Council of Europe).
- To build real and sustainable relations between the participants (including from different conflict sides) and group dynamics based on mutual-trust.
As a result, we anticipate creating an informal network, where the participants will support, mentor and inspire each other, therefore ensuring sustainability and making the study session more than a one-go activity.
Creating a long-lasting online platform of peace advocates is an expected outcome of this initiative. We expect that based on and as a result of the learning offered to the participants, they would be able to create solid digital outputs with positive narratives based on hope and love.
Concerning the achievement of the objectives, this study session is designed as an experiential learning scheme. The knowledge, skills and attitudes gained by the participants at the training sessions will be put into practice through homework tasks and follow-up actions / campaigns at the grassroots level.
The study session is designed as a one-week-long event, including 5 full working and 2 travelling days.
The daily programme of the study session is composed of the following learning and group dynamic blocks:
- Message of the Day: Each morning the day will start with a 15-20 minute message led by facilitators or participants. There are two reasons: firstly to set the tone of the day and give the group something to think about; secondly to share an issue or concern of a global scale or personal challenge and/or opinion. It is also designed as a tool for the group to bond.
- Morning Sessions: with emphasis predominantly on hard modules, such as plenary inputs and lectures. The idea being that it will offer a space for theory, experience, debate and showcasing tools and methods.
- Afternoon Warm-up: time for participants to offer energizers and team-building activities.
- Afternoon Sessions: with emphasis predominantly on soft modules, such as interactive work, simulation activities, group work on campaigns, media awareness. We will also offer a choice of different workshops for the participants led by different members of the facilitation team; this will in turn allow space to go deeper into certain topics and tools within a small focused group.
- Home-Group Methodology: There will be 4-5 groups, mixed prior to the conference and with specific tasks during the conference; they will also provide support and feedback for the participants – each day a representative from each group will feedback to facilitators ensuring concerns expressed within the group are dealt with and quality of performance is maintained.
- Evening Programme: with focus on activities for building positive group dynamics, such as intercultural evening, movie night, quiz sessions and various challenge activities. This also allows the participants to have social time and to relax after a heavy day of learning.
This study session is designed as an experiential learning scheme. The knowledge, skills and attitudes gained by the participants at the training sessions will be put into practice through homework tasks and follow-up actions / campaigns at grassroots level.
- Irina Berdzenishvili – Georgia / Peace Work Institute Alumna,
- Mark Healy – Ireland,
- Dana Kiss – Romania,
- Marius Pop – Spain / YMCA Europe,
- Rezi Shavladze – Georgia / YMCA Europe,
- Camelia Nistor / Educational Adviser selected by the Council of Europe.
Alina Violeta Pop is a certified trainer and youth worker with more than 10 years of experience in working with young people and adults in local, national and international contexts. Her area of expertise is creating and delivering educational workshops and trainings focused on team building, group dynamic, human rights and No Hate Speech, narratives & storytelling, intercultural education, project management, social and civic competences development – using a variety of engaging, collaboration and reflection driven online and offline tools and methods of non-formal education.
Vardan Hambardzumyan, YMCA Europe Executive Secretary, is a key staff coordinating YMCA Europe Peace and Justice strategic area and Roots for Peace project coordinator. With his rich experience and knowledge in working in and with conflicts (including as a war-correspondent), Vardan can best facilitate the delivery of the planned hard modules on ‘Do No Harm, ‘Composite Heritage, and ‘Reflecting on Peace Practices’.
Non-formal learning and participant-oriented approaches will be used, and in accordance with the environment friendly policy. The program flow will reflect interactive and participatory methods among which will be: discussions, work in pairs, small or big groups, interactive lectures, experts’ talks, interactive role-playing games, energizers, icebreakers, team-building, simulation games, case studies, field studies, brainstorming, world café, open space, daily evaluations, practical digital bootcamps, intercultural and other parties.
Through interactive activities participants will have the chance to practice gained information and knowledge that will strengthen the process of learning, impact and use of represented methods, tools, skills, knowledge and information on their future local projects.
For tailoring the content of the study session, the preparatory team together with the educational advisor will use resources, such as the Council of Europe ‘Youth Transforming Conflicts’ T-kit, the No Hate Speech Movement materials (especially ‘We Can!’), “have your say” Manual, or YMCA Europe ‘Peacework Guidebook’ – an online resource summarising the delivery of YMCA Europe Peace Work Institute schemes, including all the hard and soft educational modules used.
Furthermore, we would allow space for working groups that organically formed or for participants who wanted to lead extra content. This would ensure those participants who wanted to lead or go deeper in a certain topic would have the space.
We expect participants to have plans/projects/campaigns to be implemented upon completion of the study session in their organisations and communities. Together with the participants we will set a timeline for these projects and also the methods used to publish/advertise.
We will also create a small working group from within the group to document and produce a handbook of best practices, tools and tips (most of them for free usage) from the project week. This can then be used by all participants, their organizations and networks. Hoping that those individuals or organizations unfamiliar with initiatives like “No hate Speech” will consider joining or getting more actively involved.
Apart from general requirements like age, language skills, etc., the participants should show evidence-based motivation and commitment to conflict transformation work, digital activism during and beyond the study session. They must be 18 – 30 years old and can be of both YMCA as well as non-YMCA backgrounds.
Based on the nature of the initiative being opinion-leaders, mature, open-minded, responsible and collaborative are the features that each applicant should display. There will be some participants with solid experience in other projects. This will ensure that the programme and aims fit into a wider support network and platform. The participants will come from diverse ethnic and religious contexts.
Profile of Participants:
- Representatives of a youth organisations & informal groups;
- Representatives of formal education & administrative bodies working with youth;
- Freelancers supporting youth work on a regular basis;
- People ready to fully dedicate their time and be part of an intensive learning process;
- Able to work in English;
- Citizen or resident of an European country;
- 18 – 30 years old.
Preference in selection will be given to applicants dealing or planning to deal with communication/digital/social media matters and/or have some experience with the project’s topic.
Place: European Youth Centre Budapest
Date: Arrival on the 12th of September / Departure on the 18th of September 2021
Places available: 35
All costs related with travel, visa, accommodation and materials are covered.
The study session has an enrolment fee set at EUR. 50. All persons attending the study session must complete a travel reimbursement form even when there are no travel expenses and pay the enrollment fee due to the Youth Department of the Council of Europe before the end of the meeting.
Please be aware that we are constantly checking the situation around Covid-19 in different countries and especially in Hungary. Further information, recommendations and preventive measures regarding this topic will be provided in the info-pack of this study session. The session will be held at the EYCB under strict sanitary protocols.
Deadline for applications: August 15th 2021.
Please visit our webpage for more information.