On May 22nd 2017 the Youth Committee of UPF-Austria organised a panel discussion at the University of Vienna on the theme: “Walls or Bridges? Session II Populism, Integration & the Future of Europe.” The speakers This event was the second of a series of discussions on this topic. The first one took place in December 2016. The four speakers addressed the topic from different angles: Mr. David Meinel spoke about populism. He explained that there is not only political populism, but also ecological and cultural populism. In political populism we can observe populism of the right wing and left wing parties. In essence, populism mainly appeals to the emotions. Mr. Meinel who wrote a paper then explained about the roots of populism, which are to be found in the 16th century when governments became more centralised. He observed that today’s party system is out-dated and unable to change. He suggests aiming for direct democracy, similar to how it is practiced in Switzerland or in ancient Greece, i.e. “A world of doing and acting”. The second speaker was Prof Ismael Yasin. Having been a professor at Damascus University, Syria, he has lived in Vienna for 2 years. He was able to learn the language and to adapt to the new situation, so that he could find work at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. From there he moved to the Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF), working in a project called “Treffpunkt Österreich” (Meeting Point Austria), in order to help Syrian and other refugees find their place in our country. “Knowledge is power and light, while ignorance is darkness”, he stated. “We need to know each other. We belong to different religions and ethnicities. But we all have one origin.” He then explained shortly about Syrian culture, which goes back 9000 years in history. The three Abrahamic religions all started there (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and they have the same heritage. They have to find a way to work together. His next topic was his work with Syrian refugees in Vienna and, in his opinion, the key to integration is learning the language, but cultural integration is most important. That’s why he used to take the refugees to the historic places in Vienna, explaining the history and culture. He got very good responses to these programmes. The audience could sense the great effort he has been making in helping refugees find their place in Austria. Nina Tsiklauri (her background is Georgian) presented the project “Pulse of Europe” (https://pulseofeurope.eu/). It is a citizens’ initiative for finding ideas of how to reshape the European Union. Every Sunday afternoon a group of volunteers meet at a public place, giving everybody who is there the opportunity to present his/her ideas for the EU. The action group was founded in Frankfurt, Germany, by a couple that wanted to create this platform to exchange ideas. In Vienna they consist of a team of 10 persons, and their expenses are covered by crowdfunding. The motivation and the vision of this action group are to spread a pro-European atmosphere and a positive image about the EU. They are also setting an example of active citizenship which should help ensure the freedom we have been enjoying for several decades in Europe. Finally, people have to be more informed about the European Union. Aladin Naksh Bandi, from Syria, introduced “Smart Academy” (http://www.smartacademy.de/index.php/en/home-en) to the audience, a project which he founded in 2014, through which he offers tutoring and seminars for refugees in various fields, such as learning the language, legal advice and job opportunities. The intention is to promote tolerance, understanding and goal-oriented thinking. Mr. Bandi stated, “Seeing the situation of the refugees in Vienna I asked myself: How can I contribute to build bridges between cultures? I concluded: We have to become smart… Read More “Walls or Bridges” – Populism, Integration & the Future of Europe
UPF (Universal Peace Federation) held its summer festival on 19.07.2015 in the premises of UPF in Giessen. Last year the first such festival was held under the motto ‘world family’, and this year the topic was ‘between war and peace: the role of interreligious dialogue in 2015’. The world café was an integral part of… Read More World Cafe: The Role of Interreligious Dialogue in 2015
How can political education, and education provided by religious/ local communities foster civic engagement? On Friday (August 14, 2015) evening Youth UPF hosted an event to mark International Youth Day wherein audience members joined the panel in a lively discussion regarding how political education and education provided by religious local communities can be used to… Read More Youth Civic Engagement: Discussed on International Youth Day
Today we celebrate International Youth Day. As society we come together to look at and reflect on the role that young people play and to put emphasis on youth-related issues. This year’s topic is Youth Civic Engagement. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon made the following statement on this year’s Youth Day: As the world changes with… Read More Youth Civic Engagement: What Can Religious Communities Do?
You are invited to join a live panel on increasing Youth Civic Engagement. Take part in an active discussion on tackling the root causes for disengagement and find ways to encourage and empower young people to become more involved that we can offer as a recommendation to schools and religious/local communities.… Read More International Youth Day 2015: Youth Civic Engagement
The UPF Pathway to a Sustainable Future Project was the first of its kind and started off in Asuncion, Paraguay on July 6th. We were to explore Puerto Leda, Dr. Sun Myung Moon’s vision of a “New Eden” and how living in an underdeveloped native Indian village would change our view on life. I had… Read More Experiencing a “New Eden” – Eco-Volunteering in Paraguay
International Women’s Day 2015. 23 March 2015, House of Lords, Committee Room 4. “Every day should be International Women’s Day,” opened Baroness Verma. The resounding applause that followed highlighted Baroness Verma’s firm insistence that “we all [must] work together as it takes people to bring people together.” Women were not the only members of the audience, but “enlightened men.” The men in attendance were commended for their presence as it formed solidarity amongst those in attendance.… Read More Empowering women, empowering humanity: picture it!
Short recapitulation of the talks given at the seminar House of Lords, 9 December 2014 Organised by UPF and Youth UPF Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham (our host for the evening) Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham welcomed everyone to the House of Lords, sharing some of his background and passion for the topic of Religious… Read More Discussing the Present and Future of Religious Education in Schools
By Blerina Osmani On Tuesday evening, October 14th, Youth UPF in Vienna came together to discuss about the role of religions in a pluralistic Europe and a globalized world. The moderator of the evening, Anja Weiskopf, gave a short introduction about the activities of UPF and a special greeting to the new and known faces,… Read More World Café: My Faith and Global Citizenship
Since the beginning of August, Jonathan & Yara Makkonen have been organizing the local project “Connect” on a weekly basis. Connect encourages cross-cultural dialogue on the community level with the hope of contributing to world peace. Our activities are held on Friday evenings in Giessen, and consist of four rotating programs. “Game On!” is an… Read More Connect: Today I Learned
Fresh air, lakes and green forest, last days of summer and a lovely wooden countryside house. That was the setting of our European Youth Leadership Training in Kloten, Sweden from 20th to 24th of August. As our Finnish delegation arrived at the location with the Russian Youth UPF team, we were yet to discover how… Read More Initiating Peace in the Peace of Nature
Volunteering for the Unemployed? By Benedikta We were discussing many questions about volunteering in the workshop : “Don’t ask what Europe can do for you – What can you do for Europe?” Basically, the questions were about how to promote volunteering, as many reported, the experience they gained through volunteering helped them in their character… Read More European Youth Event: Personal Highlights – Part 2
About 40 people joined on June 3rd our “Conversations about a Greater Europe” in Vienna. The event was organized in cooperation with ACUNS, the Academic Council of the UN System Liaison Office Vienna.”Identity. Boarders. Peace.” where the three themes the young gathering tackled. Lukas Wank, the Founder of Shabka expressed is concerns that European Democracies… Read More Conversations about a Greater Europe: The Results
Some thoughts and reflections from the Youth UPF delegation to the European Youth Event (EYE) held in Strasbourg, May 8th-11th. We represented Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Italy. Honest Insights from Young Entrepeneurs by Anja The session about entrepreneurship at the EYE2014 in Strasbourg was led by active entrepreneurs which told their personal life stories… Read More European Youth Event: Personal Highlights – Part 1
On Saturday, 29th of March, 15 Russians and Ukrainians met up to discuss matters of identity, values and neighborhood-relations as well as talk about visions of future for their societies. In world café-style small groups debated 4 questions (see below). In a reflexion round afterwards the need for further and profound possibilities of exchange was… Read More Ukrainian Russian youth symposium held in Vienna
By Lauren Turner Humphrey Hawksley is the author of numerous books, the international correspondent for the BBC, and has been in the Navy. As such many were curious to hear what he had to say with regards to his career and the path that he took to get to where he is today at our… Read More An Evening With Humphrey Hawksley
Fundraising Concert in Aid of North Korean Children Saturday April 12th, 6pm 43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA
For the Project Blog creatingchange2013.wordpress.com. Fotos: Thomas König. 36 young people from the United Kingdom, Finland, Austria, Italy, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Palestine gathered from October 20th – 27th to share experiences and explore perspectives on what “real social change” is. This meant incubator spirit and visible results. The first 3 ½ days were dedicated… Read More We met and changed
During the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2014, UPF Youth Austria, France and Russia joined in organising an interfaith event at the initiative of UPF Russia. A questionnaire about interfaith harmony was sent to UPF members, ambassadors for peace and friends. In 3 days, we collected over 130 answers. A public video-conference was then held between… Read More Moscow-Paris-Vienna: Connecting for the World Interfaith Harmony Week
by Bogdan Pammer Shelley Hermon the director of the moving and personal documentary Within the Eye of the Storm just finished a UPF sponsored 3-day tour with 5 screenings and one peace education workshop for students. I had the great pleasure to accompany Shelley in that period, which also turned out to be also a personal… Read More For 3 Days ‘Within the Eye of the Storm’
By Anastasia Petrovskaya From the 1st to 10th of August, 2013 the Religious Youth Service project took place in Estonia, Johvi. The project was supported by the Lutheran church of St. Michael. Main purposes of this social project were improving the building and grounds of the Lutheran church, improving and cleaning the memorial cemetery… Read More 10 Days of Community Service and Building International Friendships
Die Frage die wir uns heute stellen ist: „Welche Rolle können Religionen im Jahr 2015 für den Frieden spielen?“ Je nachdem wo wir uns auf diesem Planeten befinden, stellt sich diese Frage etwas anders. Heute sind wir in Deutschland und was Deutschland – zumindest was Gießen betrifft – haben wir es in der Diskussion außschließlich… Read More Welche Rolle können Religionen im Jahr 2015 für den Frieden spielen?