Since its inception in 2012 and with two cohorts (2012-2014, 2014-2019) of participants that passed through it, the Roots Peace Work Institute (PWI) sought to enroll young leaders of different backgrounds from across Europe, young people who were and are a voice and not an echo – eager to learn, to try, to grow… Like raw diamonds to shine after the grind.
And we believe that most of these 48 Alumni managed to develop both personally and professionally as they journeyed through PWI.
Today we share with you the story of Andy, a positive activist from Ireland.
Andy’s story is very unique, as his life and studies are connected with peace work. He studied community youth work at Ulster University and is currently back there as a PhD researcher looking at approaches to peacebuilding within the youth sector. Before starting the research he spent 5 years as a youth worker at Ballysillan Youth for Christ.
At this moment he chairs YMCA Ireland’s Global Justice and International Development committee.
Prior to the engagement in the Roots, Andy had some experience in peace work, but not in an international context. He had been involved as both a participant and facilitator of community relations projects in Northern Ireland.
“The Roots project expanded my understanding of conflict contexts across Europe. Through listening to the stories of others I developed a greater appreciation of the similarities, differences, and complexities of conflict settings. The most significant impact of Roots was the networks that grew out of it and the friendships that continue today” Andy says.
Andy also mentions that Roots provided the opportunity to present and discuss conflict and peacebuilding in Northern Ireland. This caused him to carefully consider how to articulate his own experiences, as well as experiences of others who inhabit different cultural, socio-political, religious, and economic realities in the north of Ireland.
In many ways, this challenge sparked a growing interest in examining the dynamics of conflict in Northern Ireland. This was an influential part of the journey that led him to undertake his current research.
Speaking about unforgettable and life-changing moments in frames of the Roots, Andy reflected:
“A moment that I carry with me occurred during the “Bridges for the Future” tandem project in Kosovo. We visited a Mosque, and this was a first for me. In a quiet moment of reflection within the mosque, I was moved by thinking about all the people who spend time within this place of worship, connecting with God. While this was an unfamiliar faith tradition, I felt an affinity with the people who attend the mosque, seeking to commune with what is beyond themselves…
If I have to describe Roots in three words, I would choose these ones – Connecting, Stimulating, Growing. I would absolutely recommend the Roots project to young people. Each person will find something unique and everyone will experience the opportunity to learn and make new friends who might also become strategic partners for future projects.”
Since 2007 and ever growing, from the South to the North, from the East to the West of Europe – the Roots has always been there for those striving to make this world a better and safer place, a peaceful home for all. We go where the need is, responding quickly to the emerging issues with the legacy and mandate, capacity and adaptability gained for all these years.
By donating to the Roots, you invest in youth opinion leaders from all corners of Europe – varied by age, ethnicity, religion, race or wealth, but united with one strong conviction – Peace is the only way!