Do you know that feeling of fulfilment when you have done something right, something that had impact and brought joy in the hearts of people? Well, that is exactly how we felt after the ”Youth participating by a hectarewebinar.

Ever since our summer activities were postponed and meeting our friends from abroad in person turned into an intention scheduled for ”whenever it will be possible again”, we started toying with the idea of doing something that would still bring us a piece of the excitement and satisfaction our traditional summer seminar did.

Our international webinar ”Youth participating by a hectare” managed to achieve all that and more. Scheduled on the 22nd July, when we had planned to be in France, visiting several local farms and agricultural initiatives, the webinar gathered young people and experts on agriculture who discussed the challenges young people face when it comes to getting involved in this field.

”No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem

Booker T. Washington

Although it was not initially included as an activity, the international webinar became part of our annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

The webinar gathered more than 60 participants out of the 91 who registered for it. They were all young people from one of the member organisations of MIJARC Europe, representing 8 European countries.

The 3,5 hour agenda was intense but time just flew by once the experts started talking about education and knowledge in the agricultural field, green jobs, agricultural policies and shared their personal stories of getting involved in the field.

Personal story always say something individual and different. They inspires us and give us motivation. If someone made it possible, we can also make it real.

pARTICIPANT TO THE WEBINAR

The webinar looked at agriculture from three perspectives: access to knowledge, information, and education, access to green jobs and engagement in agricultural policies. A study carried out by MIJARC World, FAO and IFA in 2011 revealed several challenges young people faced in the agricultural field and provided solutions for them. Almost ten years later, we wanted to analyse some of the challenges listed in the study, which are relevant for young people in Europe today, and look at them to see if they are still the same or what progress has been made so far.

The webinar was split in four session: an introductory session, two rounds of discussion groups and a common session to draw the conclusions.

Session 1: Access to knowledge, information, and education & access to green jobs

The session began with asking the participants where they learnt about food and agriculture related issues and the poll revealed that most of then had learnt about these by means of their own research.

The first guest speaker was Russ Carrington, a former chairman of Rural Youth Europe, who is currently a farmer practicing regenerative agriculture in the United Kingdom. He joined the call directly from his farm and made a presentation about his life journey. He spoke about why he decided to go back to full-time farming like his parents, after having left to study Civil Engineering to follow a different career. During the Q&A Russ received many questions from the participants. The questions were about whether agriculture and farming is presented in schools as a viable option; about his opinion on the current and future situation of agriculture; about whether he could use his Civil Engineering knowledge in farming; and also about technical issues such as what is meant by sustainable agriculture and what is the role of GMO.

The second guest speaker was Doris Letina, the vice president from CEJA Young Farmers, who is a farmer cultivating apples in Slovenia. She firstly asked the participants to describe ”Green Jobs” in one word using the Mentimeter application.

Some participants were then asked to elaborate on their chosen word, such as “conservation”, “responsibility” and “ethical”. Doris went on to giving a small presentation of what is understood as Green Jobs. Having received some inputs, the participants were then asked the questions: “What are we missing to have Green Jobs?”. This generated some interesting discussions and opinions such as the importance of public awareness, funding and change of societal values. Some participants came back to the importance of access to education, connecting to what was discussed in the first part of the session.

Session 2: Access and engagement of young people in policy dialogue

The session started by defining what is a policy dialogue by asking the participants to choose one picture out of four.

The choice of picture was partly different in the two sessions, but most of the participants chose pictures with young people working together at a table or discussion together. The session had two guest speakers: Jannes Maes, president of CEJA and Daniela Ordowski, board member of MIJARC Europe. Both of them underlined that engagement in policy dialogue is a process. The first step of it is to get organized with other people and define together what is the position shared by everyone and to agree on one message to communicate.

Further, the participants were asked if they had ever taken part in a policy dialogue and to share their experience about it, especially the issues and challenges they had. Some of the participants mentioned that they had never taken part in any dialogue on policies. They had the opinion that if young people do not search actively for such opportunities, they will not have the chance to take part in them. Others said that being in that session was already a step towards being active in policy dialogue. Jannes agreed that sometimes you have to ask for a place and this is not easy, but in general youth are then welcomed, because stakeholders and politicians know that they need the opinion of young people. For established organisations like CEJA or MIJARC Europe it is easier to be involved as an organisation than it is to join the dialogue as an individual. Youth organisations are crucial for the representation of young people.

Conclusions

During the final session, the participants reflected on the discussions they had in the discussion groups and a summary of the main points was made.

Finally a list of priorities identified during the webinar was made and the participants ranked them. The lack of education or its availability only in urban areas was the challenge most of young placed at the top, closely followed by the fact that youth in environmental protection is not a priority for governments these days and the fact the rural areas and farming are not given enough prominence in policies, media and on social networks.

The priorities identified by the participants during the webinar will be collected together with those identified during the local visits in each country and will serve as the basis for the upcoming international activities. During the next phase of the work plan, the participants will develop concrete action plans to address the priorities. The action plans will be the main working tool for the third activity, when participants will create project proposals to help with the implementation of at least one measure included in the action plans.

The webinar was a very successful activity judging by the results of the evaluation form and the testimonials given by the participants.

This webinar was very useful. Before this I didn’t even know that people like you are actually trying to solve problems like this one, the involvement of young people into agriculture and the development of rural spaces. The most useful thing that I have learnt is that with topics like this, there is still hope from the younger generations and I think that I have actually found some inspiration to speak out on what I want to say something, because until now I was too shy and I didn’t think that people really want to hear what someone like me would want to say.

Participant

On a personal level, I could relate my own education and life with the experiences that one of the speakers talked about. He inspired me to use most of the engineering and problem-solving capabilities to get involved in sustainable agriculture.

Participant

On 4th June 2020, our member organisation APSD-Agenda 21 from Romania organised the third local visit planned among the activities of MIJARC Europe’s annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Following the introduction of the lockdown measures of the COVID-19 pandemic across almost all European countries, several of MIJARC Europe’s member organisations decided to organise the local visits as national webinars. The team of MIJARC Europe designed a webinar format based on online tools and assisted the member organisation in implementing their activities online in line with the objective of the work plan. APSD-Agenda 21 was the first member organisation that hosted a national webinar instead of a local visit to a farm, but the event was useful, effective and well received by the participants.

Organising the event online as a webinar gave the advantage of having more than 12 participants and making it a national rather than a local event. APSD-Agenda 21 spread the call in its national network and finally 66 participants from five counties in Romania attended the webinar.

The webinar was led on Zoom and included a balanced mix of theoretical input and practical exercises that made the activity dynamic and interesting for the participants. First, they got the chance to know each other better through a set of four questions that invited them raise there hand if during the lockdown period that had:

  • taken part to a challenge on social media
  • listened to a podcast
  • baked something for the first time
  • attended online meetings while still wearing their pyjamas

The next block on the agenda was dedicated to agriculture and aimed at bringing the young participants closer to agricultural practices and to understanding how agriculture is done in their country and in Europe. Based on the study on youth involvement in agriculture that MIJARC Europe published specially for this visit, the participants found out that:

  • 56% of the EU citizens live in rural areas;
  • there are almost 12 million farmers in the EU, with only 29% of the farmer owners being women and only 5% being young than 35 years old;
  • Romania is the largest producer of sunflower in the EU;
  • 33% of Romania’s active population work in the agricultural sector.

After the general introduction to the topic of agriculture, the participants had the chance to discuss with one of the leading experts on agriculture in Romania, Mr. Vînătoru Costel – head of the plant gene bank in Buzau and horticulture engineer at the Plant Research and Development Station in Buzau-Romania. The discussion focused on practices used in sustainable agriculture, the phases a product goes through from the moment it is just a seed to the moment we can consume it, several projects of the research station, the expert personal motivation to study agricultural and work in the field, the Common Agricultural policy and who implements it in Romania, ways to involve young people in agriculture and the main problems farmers face in Romania.

The second part of the meeting focused on youth involvement in policies and especially in agricultural policies. While the participants had some idea about what a policy is, almost none of them had ever been involved in a structured dialogue process ir was aware of how young people could influence a policy.

Next, the participants explored the Common Agricultural Policy and the way it is implemented in Romania and were introduced to the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter) They went through the six-step implementation model, the principles of the Charter, the ladder of participation and the RMSOS approach and were very pleased to see that there was an instrument that could guide them towards getting involved in policies at local and regional level.

Revised Charter

The evaluation session revealed the fact that the participants found the webinar very useful and interesting and discovered a multitude of tools they could use to get involved.

On 14th March 2020, our member organisation Umbrella from Georgia organised the second local visit planned among the activities of MIJARC Europe’s annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Umbrella gathered 13 of their young members and took them on a visit to Asureti Village and to Tetritskaro Youth Center. Firstly, they visited a farm and a greenhouses that belonged to the young farmer Gocha Apciauri, located in Asureti village. He presented his farm, the technologies he used and engaged he participants in an experiential learning activity inviting them to harvest vegetables. The discussion with the farmers focused on the challenges that he faced in his daily live as a farmer and the agricultural works.

The second half of the day was spent at Tetritskaro Youth Center, where the participants explored the “ladder of Participation”, the “triangle of cooperation”, worked in groups and used non-formal learning methods to identify challenges/barriers young people face if they want to get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies.

They based their work on the study on youth involvement in agriculture – the case of Georgia – published by MIJARC Europe especially for this visit and the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter)

Revised Charter

According to participants their involvement in agricultural policy at local level is extremely low. They were not aware of the possibilities and mechanisms of participation in decision-making process at local level. None of them had ever taken part in discussions on farming issue or had been invited to the local Sakrebulo (local legislative body) meetings. In addition to this, despite the fact that representatives of two local municipalities (Tetrsitskaro and Marneuli) were invited to the meeting, none of them sent representatives.

The young participants decided that the priorities they should focus on at local level should be:

  • Information – access to information is the top priority as quite often the information is on websites but it is not proactively published or spread in the municipality. It also considers the accessibility to internet as it is not developed in rural area.
  • Motivation – low level of motivation or nihilism among youth and non-responsive local authorities. The priority is to raise the level of motivation among young people.
  • Language barrier – in the communities with ethnic minorities (Armenians, Azerbaijanis) in some cases they face language barriers as they lack of knowledge of state language. Translation of information into native languages.
  • Political will – promoting (advocating) political will among local authorities and awareness about the positive sides of involvement of young farmers in agricultural policy development process.


On 7th March 2020, our member organisation Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia (FYCA), organised the first local visit planned within the activities of MIJARC Europe’s annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

FYCA took the young participants to visit several agricultural farms in Nor Geghi (Kotayk province), Armenia.

The visits started with several meetings with local youth representatives and local & regional authorities. At first, the attendees discussed the current situation and existing challenges facing the youth in the region and explored the facts and issues raised by the study on youth involvement in agriculture done by MIJARC Europe.

Later, it was time to start the meetings with the farmers located in the region. The local visit to several agricultural farms in Armenia gathered 25 young volunteers and members from the organization, and also representatives from local and regional authorities from Kotayk province, Armenia.

Prior to the visit, the organization contacted the provincial administration representatives of Kotayk region through FYCA regional coordinator, Mari Hovakimyan. The visit was co-organized by the head of Nor Geghi community, Vardan Papyan and his administrative team.

The field visit started from “Green” intensive apple orchards, where farmers’ staff presented the basics of the fruit cultivation. The participants explored all the stages of producing apples: starting from the basic steps of orchard establishment and development to packing the ready-steady fruits for consumption. The apple orchards have been established in Nor Geghi community in 2016 and currently cover nearly 30 hectares, with the goal of expanding the area by 20 hectares in the nearest future. In addition to apple trees, pear, plum and cherry trees will also be planted there.

It is also interesting to know that the intensive orchards are harvested earlier than traditional orchards. In case of intensive orchards, up to ten times more seedlings are planted on 1 hectare of land. The farm grows a huge variety of apples and each of them is different in its own way.

Having explored the techniques and logistics of the production, it was time to carry out the second visit in the region. The next farm was a fishpond, belonging to “Ninel” LLC and providing employment opportunities to locals.

Afterwards, the team headed to the third well-known farm, “Lusakert” poultry factory. During the visit, the team got acquainted with the bird breeding conditions and technical equipment of the cultivation. As the factory staff informed, the chickens are kept in exclusively natural and ecological conditions, thus providing ecologically pure and nutritious products.

Revised Charter

The information gained during the visits were later on used to discuss about how young people could get involved in agricultural policies and firstly if they should get involved. The participants explored the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter) and its six step implementation model. The participants came to the conclusion that agricultural development is crucially important for developing rural areas. Hence, the strategies and policies promoting the development of rural areas are considered to be a high priority in the country.

In order to reach sustainable agricultural development, it is necessary to provide rural youth with sufficient access to knowledge and information, through incorporating agricultural skills in the education.
According to the discussions, it became obvious that youth’s involvement in policy dialogue is still an existing challenge in the country. Thus, young people need to have access to integrated trainings in agricultural sector and get coherent response from policy-makers and development practitioners so as to overcome those challenges.


Overall, the following conclusion was drawn in result of the local visit: agricultural development is an extremely important asset for fostering sustainable development of rural communities’ livelihood and increasing the standards of living in those areas.

”Rock, paper, participation” – an annual work plan co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.


In 2020 MIJARC Europe will focus on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

Following the successful implementation of the work plan on citizenship and participation in 2019, MIJARC Europe has chosen to go deeper into the topic and build on the great results it has achieved so far, by focusing on increasing youth participation in building a sustainable future for agriculture and for rural communities. Agriculture is a key topic of MIJARC Europe and a strategic area of intervention when it comes to youth participation. Rural development and a prosperous, sustainable future for young people in rural areas are interlinked to agriculture. In 2017 official data revealed that Europe’s farming sector was dominated by an older population, especially in the case of women farmers – data showed that just 4.9% of farmers under 35 were women, compared to 6.4% for men. Even less were engaged in policy dialogue. We need to get young people from rural areas back at the dialogue table, we need to provide them with the skills and insight needed to understand what sustainable agriculture is and to give them a strong, informed and evidence-based voice in agricultural policies.

Listen to 32nd episode of our podcast “How about you(th)” to find out more about what sustainability means for agriculture.

Through this work plan we strive to provide the rural young people in the MIJARC Europe network with the values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and critical understanding required for meaningful participation and effective engagement in decision-making and policy development about sustainable agriculture.

We plan to achieve this aim by engaging the young people in a learning process which is based on the principles and instruments of the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life and the methodology of youth participatory projects described in the ‘Have your say’ manual.

The three phases of the work plan bring young people closer to farmers, sustainable agriculture initiatives and agricultural policies and uses a bottom-up approach. During the local visits/national webinars young people focus on the priorities they feel should be pursued in their community in order to increase young people’s involvement in agriculture, while the seminar and the summer camp teach them to understand and work on agricultural policies and to develop concrete projects at community level to address the priorities identified.

The local visits are planned to take plan between March-May 2020 but following the mobility restrictions imposed by the current global pandemic, the local visits will be organised as webinars.

The seminar and the summer camp are postpone to autumn 2020 with updates to be published at the beginning of August 2020.

 

”Let our voice be heard” – an annual work plan co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.


001

Between 2018 and 2021 MIJARC Europe is leading its work around three thematic focus points described in the Specific Objectives adopted by the General Assembly back in 2017. The work plan we run in 2019 addressed MIJARC Europe’s commitment to support citizenship and youth participation in rural development.

Through the work plan we run in 2019 we aimed to help rural young people in MIJARC Europe network and beyond feel that they have the right, the means and the skills to drive change at local level and to motive other stakeholders to support their ideas and create opportunities for youth participation together.

We wanted young people to feel that they know, they can, and they want to be involved, to be able to imagine the concrete, sequential steps towards achieving real impact and to identify how to determine local authorities to join their initiatives in order to see those changes they envision, happen in reality.

This aim was pursued through the following specific objectives:

O1: enable young people from rural areas to discriminate between self-imposed barriers to participation (their own perceptions, stereotypes and attitudes) and real barriers and find inspiration to identify solutions to both types of barriers;

O2: teach young people how to communicate with, involve and ask for support from local authorities and perceive them as partners rather than opponents;

O3: empower young people from rural areas to become competent and effective digital citizens;

O4: contribute to the implementation of the principles of the Revised Charter on participation of young people in local and regional life and to the dissemination of the “Have your say manual” to local public authorities and youth NGOs in at least 10 rural areas in Europe.

PHASES

The work plan included one local activity and two international activities, reinforced by follow- up activities at local level.

From February to April 2019, MIJARC Europe organized focus groups, called “local visits” in 9 different countries in Europe. Small groups of 10 to 20 people aged from 12 to 22 years old came together, sometimes also with representatives of local authorities, to discuss the topic of youth participation.

Questions like “what does youth participation mean?”, “what kind of youth participation does take place?”, “does real participation take place?”, “how young people are involved, do they have a real chance to participate and co-decide?” have been deeply discussed with the help of the manual “Have your Say”. The manual Have your Say is a tool of the Council of Europe for young people and local authorities to implement and use the Charter on youth participation in the local and regional life. The findings of the local visits were included in a report and illustrated in country fact sheets. The results of this small scale research were at the basis of the next two phases.

Report on the state of youth participation – local visits

Info graphics – country fact sheets

The second activity was an international seminar, which gathered 40 young people, for four full working days.  It had the role to bridge the results of the fieldwork done by MIJARC Europe during the local visits with the theoretical and practical aspects of the participation at local, national, regional and European lever by involving active members in a proactive learning process.

The seminar was designed and led based on the methods of non-formal education and relevant approaches using the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in local and regional life and the “Have your say” Manual. The successful implementation of the seminar resulted in a magazine of personal stories of participation written and drawn by the participants, the creation of vlogs and of three infographics.  The final evaluation results show that the seminar scored high in the hearts and minds of the participants. The percentage of those who believe that they got the basic theory, practical approaches and tools, to help them to build a culture of participation after the seminar is about 92%.

Digital magazine “My story of participation” 

Vlogs – https://www.youtube.com/user/MIJARCEurope/videos

Info-graphics 

 

The seminar was complemented by the third phase, an international training course on e- citizenship that offered additional tools and ideas to tackle the problems identified in the first phase. The training course aimed to bring the participants closer to e-participation. The participants were encouraged to build their own positions for different topics related to participation and e-participation and they had a possibility to present and discuss in a safe learning environment.

They had a possibility to address their comments and questions to Dirk Van Eeckhout, the Thematic Coordinator on Information Policy in the Council of Europe and Rita Jonusaite, part of the secretariat of the YFJ. That was a highly valuable experience that helped the participants to meet stakeholders, gain self-confidence and resilience breaking the present barriers. The participants worked together in intercultural subgroups in order to solve practical case studies through the e-participation tools they have discovered.

 

The most impressive result of the training course was the set up of an online campaign “Every Breath we take” the participants used to raise awareness on the fires in the Amazon and climate injustice. The campaign worked as a Facebook challenge in which young people were challenged to take a photo of themselves with their eyes closed, taking a deep breath along with the written message: “Our common home is on fire. The Amazon is burning. We cannot hold our breath until you finally take action. We need to act NOW!”. It also included four calls to action and messages inspired by the position papers of MIJARC Europe such as: “We demand national governments to take concrete actions to meet their commitments to the Paris agreement”. The campaign gathered more than 100 people who took a photo of themselves, posted the photo along with the message on their Facebook profile and challenged their friends

Every breath we take campaign

Training booklet on e-participation

Finally, each organization involved did a follow-up activity of their choice, involving a minimum number of 10 participants. The full list of follow-up activities can be seen here.

Follow-up activity in Bulgaria

Follow-up activity in Germany

Follow-up activity in Romania

The results of the work plan were also presented and promoted in our biannual magazine: MIJARC Explore.

logosbeneficaireserasmusleft_enBetween 4th – 8th September 2018, our member movement APSD-Agenda 21 is hosting a youth exchange on peace and conflict. The project is called “Messages from the future” and it is part of our annual work plan on 2018 “We are the others”. The youth exchange is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. It is organized as an international simulation on four different topics which affect peace and conflict at global level: climate change, migration, gender inequality and extremism.


The final day of our youth exchange brought to our attention the topic of extremism with the help of a very interesting game and many balloons. The team of facilitators adapted ”The Island” simulation from the All Different, All Equal Education Pack in order to show that differences should be first acknowledged and then accepted, that tolerance and adaptability are key skills and that diversity should be celebrated.

Split into two different tribes, both worshiping balloons the participants took their roles seriously and started looking for a very rare type of balloon which could only be found with a special map. Of course each tribe possessed only half of the map and only by coming together and mending the two halves could the tribes find the balloons. The negotiations were tough and the members of the tribes had to learn the other’s culture in order to be able to communicate with them.

In the debriefing part they talked about how important it had been to stay open and to adapt to the situation by learning the language of the other tribe, sharing their habits and not using violent methods. They discussed about culture, what makes it important and about what brings the cultures into conflict. They reflected on who gains and who loses from a conflict and about the negative and positive consequences of opening up towards other cultures.

Next, the tribes prepared the photo-messages with their most important conclusion.

The day ended with a long evaluation and follow-up session, in which the participants reflected on their learning, filled-in their youth passes and discovered what competences they had developed throughout the week. They also made plans for hosting the travelling exhibition and found out who their secret friend had been.

IMG_7904

logosbeneficaireserasmusleft_enBetween 4th – 8th September 2018, our member movement APSD-Agenda 21 is hosting a youth exchange on peace and conflict. The project is called “Messages from the future” and it is part of our annual work plan on 2018 “We are the others”. The youth exchange is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. It is organized as an international simulation on four different topics which affect peace and conflict at global level: climate change, migration, gender inequality and extremism.


Gender inequalities were at the core of the fourth day which brought participants face to face with some of the realities of the labour market and of domestic violence. After an energetic start of the morning, the participants watched a short movie about gender and split in four groups deciding on weather some adjectives described male or female features or positive and negative features. The activity was adapted from the “Gender Matters” manual and it introduced the participants into gender stereotyping.

Next, it was time for them to work and get paid. They were assigned a role with information about their sex, age and experience and they had to go through five work stations where they performed different tasks (arranging small balls on piles of the same colour, preparing bread dough or scoring with a basket ball). At the end of the game they made a long row and received their payment which, of course, took into account their performance but also their sex and their age. In the debriefing part, they discussed about the inequalities on the labour market between genders and how unjust the system is with huge pay gaps in some countries.

The next game brought them face to face with real cases of domestic violence of all types which they discussed in national groups and then presented their conclusion to the rest of the participants. The fact that they were split on national groups really helped with showing the different approaches the countries represented have towards gender violence, the laws that apply and the feeling of the community towards the victims and the perpetrators.

The day ended with the creation of the photo-messages which were very creative and provoking.

logosbeneficaireserasmusleft_enBetween 4th – 8th September 2018, our member movement APSD-Agenda 21 is hosting a youth exchange on peace and conflict. The project is called “Messages from the future” and it is part of our annual work plan on 2018 “We are the others”. The youth exchange is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. It is organized as an international simulation on four different topics which affect peace and conflict at global level: climate change, migration, gender inequality and extremism.


The third day was full of strong feelings, tears and tense moments as the participants experienced an impactful simulation on the topic of migration. The facilitators adapted the United Nations simulation game ”Passages” and tried to make it as vivid as possibe in order to make the participants experience a tiny bit of what it would be like to be forced to flee your home and head into the unknown.

It all started out very enthusiastically, with everybody smiling and fooling around. Split on families, the participants had to assign names and roles to each member of the family and create their family story. Next they were blinfolded and following a bomb attack on their home town they had to find their family members through the smoke that did not allow them to see anything. The simulation took them through different experiences such as deciding which objects to take in their suitcases, spending the night (around 8 minutes) in a shelter, filling in forms in a language they were not familiar with, being rejected at the border without any explanation, crossing the border illegally, facing the harsh conditions of a refugee camp and finally pleading their case with the authorities to get asylum.

The debriefing phase revealed how powerful the exercise was and many participants spoke about the intensity of the feelings they had, the impact it made on them and the amazement of how little they knew about the experiences some of the refugees go through.

The photos they created stand proof for the powerful messages they felt inside, as they are deep, thought-provoking and trully inspiring.

logosbeneficaireserasmusleft_enBetween 4th – 8th September 2018, our member movement APSD-Agenda 21 is hosting a youth exchange on peace and conflict. The project is called “Messages from the future” and it is part of our annual work plan on 2018 “We are the others”. The youth exchange is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. It is organized as an international simulation on four different topics which affect peace and conflict at global level: climate change, migration, gender inequality and extremism.


IMG_6799.JPGThe rain tried to be the star of the second day but we managed to keep the focus on climate change, the topic of our simulation. The secret location was revealed first thing in the morning when the participants gathered next to the bus that was going to take us to the Mud Volcanoes.

Unfortunately, we were able to visit the site for only 5 minutes until the rain started. It was a real thunder storm, but we continued to work divided on teams taking shelter and focusing on our learning objectives. The simulation on climate change was inspired by the game “Pacha Mama” and adapted to the context of climate change. The participants were divided in five teams, each representing a certain imaginary country, each of which had some advantages and some disadvantages. The citizens of Vital, Rassas, Activ, Cocoon and Scrib prepared their country’s identity (flag, map, how their life is) on a flip chart and introduced themselves to each other.

 

Then it was time for the Climate Change Olympic Games when they had to go through five games, in which they could use their advantages or see what it feels like to have less chances than the others. It was a very funny activity which challenged everybody to do their part and help their country become the victor of the games.

The next phase was very important, as it invited the participants to debrief the experience they had. This session revealed the injustice of climate change as the countries which contribute the less to the carbon dioxide emissions will be the ones most affected. It also helped the participants reflect on the different scenarios of climate change and the probabilities of each of those happening. They then connected these potential consequences to the state of global peace, realizing the strain the changes in climate would impose on countries which were already overburdened by issues such as poverty, political instability or lack of access to resources.

Finally, the participants gave a visual form to their reflections as they created photo-messages to send to young people living in the present in order to motivate them to take action so that the worst scenarios would never become reality.