Coming from 34 different countries, 150 young
people gathered in Greece in October 2010. It was the exciting start of the Youth Time International Movement! The first meeting raised
questions such as “How differently do young people see the world around them?”,
which led to “What can be done so we can have create a better future?”. The exchange
of ideas and the “a-ha” moments created between them was about to give birth to
something new. It was the beginning of Youth Time, a non-governmental and
apolitical youth organisation.
Youth Time had its first official Summer School in 2011 and this June five years of engagement with the youth were celebrated. How is Youth Time preparing young people to tackle the world’s biggest social development issues? The organisation has been focusing on challenges such as creating and implementing youth projects, creating and promoting NGO’s, fundraising, networking and scattering social entrepreneurship!
Blablabla, says that sceptical voice in your head. Then this article isn’t for you. You had to breathe idealism, see challenge, taste curiosity and feel action coming out of your hands to be a participant. If CHANGE is not amongst your vocabulary, then you just wouldn’t fit… Youth Time’s Summer School 2015 kept its legacy. Empowering young activists and leaders to change the world!
With Society and Crisis: Issues of Management as title, the workshops and masters classes attended by students had a focus on personal development. It makes perfect sense, right? How can you solve an international conflict if you don’t understand and solve your most intimate struggles?
If you are a believer and think creating harmony through your actions is possible, then you would’ve felt most welcomed in this muticulti team.
Involved with youth organisations or volunteering with NGO’s, they manage their time perfectly, so they can also work and/or study. They are concerned about Human rights violations, environmental problems and other development issues. These young people are actively working to help foster their surrounding communities!
Meet AWA, the women’s rights Activist
Awa Njie-Yoyo comes from The Gambia and is 22 years-old. She is an activist in her country where she was going to the University. Now she is “taking some time off” and she is living in Germany, which she enjoys as “her second home”. Nevertheless she knows well that her “services are more needed in The Gambia”…
Awa was actively collaborating with Blogger Swarm, an online portal of ActionAid Activista International. She is an advocate for women’s and children’s rights and she has been fighting against FGM and other violent acts against women through her stories.
Blogger Swarm is a network of young people from 12 different countries in Africa and Asia. Asked if she considered herself as a media activist, Awa said her aim is to contribute to The Gambia’s society, and the stories she collects are just one part of it.
With ActionAid Activista Awa organises trainings for rural communities on topics such as leadership, campaigning or how to build self-esteem. She volunteers on a regular basis in hospitals, since her background is related to health issues, but she truly believes “education is key when it comes to empowering people”.
During the Summer School she really enjoyed the “Stress Management” workshop because it gave her a sense of “strength and that a positive approach is needed” when fighting problem. In another training, the “Daily Diplomacy” workshop, when students were asked to analyse the EU Parliament’s recommendation on Boko Haram’s attacks, Awa had her opinion well defined; “there is a point when negotiation should really happen, but the EU does not negotiate with terrorists”.
As a Muslim young activist, Awa fears for the stereotypes that are now being created around Muslims. Like other young activists, she just wants to “advocate for world peace!”
Feel LATIFA’S charisma for problem-solving
Latifa Albanar, 21, wants to become a diplomat. Although she believes she has a solution to every problem, she still wants to experiment and try a lot of new things. Before becoming the leader she wants to and before pursuing her Master’s Degree in International Relations, Religion and Theology, she has been busy. A Degree in International Relations (with Media Culture and Communication) in England, volunteering in Sri Lanka as well as working closely with organisations such as Oxfam and Enactus.
In the future, “I will have my own international charity”. “You see when you buy stuff that is fair trade? I want to increase that”. Latifa wants to use the resources and energies available in the developing world linking them them to the demand urged by the West and the Middle East. Sometimes, when she goes to bed, she thinks she can solve all the world’s problems, maybe because of the “billion theory” she has been reading.
Born in Qatar, Latifa felt she learned a lot during the “Art of Negotiation” workshop. She is now realising how powerful language and words can be and she started thinking much more before talking. She is interested in measuring her words in order to “really catch the attention of the listener”. One day the diplomat will also have her own charity!
Imagine HUIFENG’s power to negotiate
Huifeng is 28 years-old. He was impressed by the “Art of Negotiation’ workshop and felt he learned a lot from it. Contrary to what he had studied in Economics, people don’t seem to be very rational. As he said, “people are actually emotional animals”. Knowing so, one needs to use some techniques in order to “take advantage of people’s emotions’, to arrive at its goals. “Well, of course we should not manipulate people, but we can take advantage of people’s emotions and do something good about it”.
Huifeng is currently working in financial services as well as studying. He still manages to find the time to work for an NGO in Frankfurt, where he is now living. He volunteers so that young people (still in high school) engage with refugees or environmental problems: “many people in Frankfurt are interested in sustainability issues, especially regarding food. We invite entrepreneurs living close by to give lectures and teach about sustainable farming”.
Huifeng believes that in the future he will still be in the financial industry because it is good for his family as well as for his future career.
“China is now the second largest economy on the planet and in ten years many believe it will overtake America”, he stated. One day he wants to return to his origins and grasp the working opportunities there. For the moment working in Frankfurt makes sense: there a lot of negotiations taking place between Frankfurt and China.
The Stylistics once sang “People make the world go round” on the radio. People are moving faster and more often, changing countries to work abroad in new vibrant economies. How is this mobility going to affect the international relations of tomorrow?
What if this generation acknowledges the challenges they will face inside are subconsciously affecting conflicts between countries? If they work on it, then one day the world will deal with problems differently. Youth Time Summer Schools knows this. Our reflections in the mirror might influence the way we project feelings on “the other”. Good old Freud and his psychological projection. He might just help us all become better humans, professionals, negotiators. One day solving international conflicts will be much easier.
So the final question is: “What do you see in the mirror and do you like it?”