24 young people representing 17 nationalities met in Prague from July 18th to the 24th and took part at the Peace Work Seminar organized by the European Alliance of YMCAs (YMCA Europe) and co-financed by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.
The Seminar included presentations and plenary discussions about YMCA peace initiatives across the world with an emphasis on our institution´s work in the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East. Workshops on impact assessment, social transformation and youth empowering also took place during the week together with an inspiring Film Festival.
The Seminar ended with reflections from the participants under the topic “towards a peaceful future” and their commitment to continue striving for international understanding and solidarity in the local, national and global levels.
In the follow-up evaluation, the relevance of the content of the seminar was evaluated by its participants as excellent.
They are in almost unanimous ‘strong agreement’ with the statements that they have a more clear understanding of what the YMCA Peace Work is and that they have learnt a lot from sharing personal experiences of people doing the YMCA work in conflict zones.
The seminar was a robust event – none of the participants ranked the fun they had lower than ‘strongly agree’. And the last, but not the least: the young people remain really and seriously interested in the issue.
They strongly state that they would like to be part of the YMCA Peace Work in the future and that they would like to gain more knowledge and skills on how to successfully carry it out.
I really enjoyed the Peace Seminar, because I learned a lot of things about conflicts and conflicts resolution especially in the Balkan zone. The people who organized the event were wonderful and they managed to make us feel better than home, if I can say like this. The participants were open minded, very friendly and eager to share with everyone their YMCA experience, but also some of their personal stories which brought them closer to the rest of the participants. It is needless to say that the location, the accommodation and the food was above expectations (slept in a nice hotel, ate delicious food and managed to visit Prague easily). Overall this event has made a big impact on me and I will definitely grated it A++++. Thank you everyone for everything.
Andrada Deatcu, Romania
I am writing to extend my thanks and gratitude for having me in Peace Work – Impact and New Challenges program. The program helped tremendously in meeting new people, gaining knowledge and experience. I had a chance to make friends with a lot of interesting and likeminded young individuals in the atmosphere of camaraderie and fellowship. I would also like to express my appreciation for the hospitality and technical guidance you provided to the participants. It was really interesting, well thought and organized seminar. I’d like to mention the movies shown through the event, there were chosen brilliantly, and for this I want to thank Michal. In my opinion they show human nature, how can life be reshaped in unexpected way, they gave me new ideas of developing friendly and effective relations with various nations a new world of friends. Not only our team work was fun but it also enabled us to have such a fruitful experience. We had a chance to listen people who were eyewitnesses of the distractive result of wars. It was shockingly sad but instructive. We all grew closer to each other and learnt a lot about other countries and their citizens, developed leadership skills and a lot of ideas on living and cooperating side by side in peace. I hope that we can continue to strengthen friendship of those who strive for changes towards world peace. And I strongly believe the projects like our peace work seminar, Roots for Reconciliation are necessary in our days and can make changes. Thank you again.
Maria Vardanyan, Armenia