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Strong voices shape the future

What an exciting twelve days! Under the title “Raise your Voice!”, active members of the local group from Unna (Germany) met with their project partners from Italy and Finland. The common goal of the youth encounter within the framework of Generation Europe – The Academy: to support each other’s local projects, to share international experiences and to make the ideas and demands of young people in Europe heard.

For this year’s encounter, the German group of Werkstatt-Berufskolleg Unna invited their international guests from the youth organisations Esplora (Itri, Italy) and Oulun Nuori Kotkat piirijärjestö ry (Oulu, Finland) to the BUND education centre Marienhof in Hagen. There was a lot of room for exchange, and an intensive desire to talk. After all, the local activities of the groups back at home are very diverse: The students of the vocational college in Unna presented their campaign for the introduction of a new school subject called “Life Skills”. The Finnish group presented projects dealing with industrial hemp, veganism and mental health. Meanwhile, the Italian group is preparing a youth podcast to promote intergenerational dialogue. In a peer consulting process, the activists gave each other feedback and also exchanged ideas on how to further develop their respective projects.

In a time of multiple crises, major political conflicts of course also play a role. For example, the war in Ukraine. A screening of the documentary film Generation Ukraine opened up intensive discussions about the living conditions, hopes and fears of young people in times of war. The international group was accompanied by a television crew from WDR TV. The camera team shot a report on how the documentary produced as part of Generation Europe – The Academy is used in youth work to enable conversations about the war. A good opportunity for the activists to gain some interview experience in front of the camera.

“Documentary about Ukrainian youth at war used for educational work”, WDR Lokalzeit, 15.08.233

Additional insights were provided by excursions and trips, for example to the exhibition “The Fragile Paradise” in the Gasometer Oberhausen. The exhibition vividly shows the incredible biodiversity of our planet, but also the threat to ecosystems by humans. Methodically guided activities, such as a simulation game on the topic of global inequality, stimulated further discussions.

All in all, the activists were keen to find new forms of expression for their own topics and concerns during the twelve days. Among other things, they dealt with public relations and social media. In art workshops, they were able to creatively implement their work on the issues, which led to an impressive art exhibition at the end of the youth encounter. The works of art on display captivated the visitors and left a lasting impression.

The twelve days were more than just an encounter – they were a statement for the active participation of young people in our society. A huge thank you to all those involved, and good luck for your future work!

What an exciting twelve days! Under the title "Raise your Voice!", the active members of the local group from Unna (Germany) met with their project partners from Italy and Finland. About local projects, dealing with global crises - and the visit of a TV crew.