Budapest has always been the symbol of freedom to me – as a boy growing up in Soviet Union it was a place where the people dared the unthinkable, to rise up in defence of most precious that human being can have – the freedom…
Years passed and unthinkable thing happened again – Hungarians are on streets and for the same reason… Proving that freedom is hard to obtain, but can be lost very easily if not defended.
So it was very symbolic to have 35 young people coming from 17 countries in European Youth Centre in Budapest within YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation Project on September 16 – 22, 2018 to participate in P.E.A.C.E. (Peace, e-Activism & Campaigning Education) Study Session.
This project was elaborated by a group of graduates of the Roots for Reconciliation Peace Work Institute, namely by: Ani – Armenia, Adi – Kosovo, Anzhelika – Artsakh, Fiona – Kosovo, Irina – Georgia, Helena – Slovakia, Maksym – Ukraine, Maria – Portugal, Petr – Russia and Andreea – UK.
We aimed to provide young leaders with a safe space for dialogue, creativity and inspiration, which should lead to a better understanding of peace, reconciliation and cooperation. In a world where everyone’s opinion is public and disputes and interactions can happen in a digital environment where no physical meeting can ever take place it’s important to continue to ensure community leaders and youth leaders are advocating for tolerance and peace within their communities, including digital communities.
This was for us an opportunity to introduce Digital tools and methods to greatly improve the messages we are putting out to the world. Quite often much of the informal peace work is undertaken by NGOs within countries, NGO’s often struggle with capacity and funds and communication can be left to good volunteers and will. However, we know that social media platforms reach more people than our projects at times and have the potential to go viral and offer a digital space for comments and dialogue. The study session focused on improving the visual and verbal communication skills of youth workers & leaders. The competencies they developed during this session will help them to better engage with different audiences and hold the attention in order to promote peace and understanding as wide as possible.
But apart from it and albeit most importantly – the event clearly demonstrated that young people across the European continent have one thing in common – they are not going to relinquish the most cherished accomplishment of their time – the freedom…
The handbook created by the participants of this project – including a collection of tips and tools to be used in digital projects is available here.
Photo album of the event. Click on the picture for the full album.