by Harue Peham, Photos Veronique Pranzl
After the successful event last year in July “Communicating Change: Youth Perspectives on Peace”, the “Youth” UPF Austria organised this event with the title “Exploring Global Citizenship”. Around 30 people attended the panel discussion, where four young “Global Citizens”, who came from very different cultural backgrounds, shared their experiences and perspectives about this topic.
The first speaker, Segal Hussein, part of the START-Alumni committee and student of International development and politic science started with sharing about her intercultural experiences, growing up with the Somalian culture of her parents and the Austrian culture. This aroused the question what is “homeland” and which skills are important for a “Global Citizen” and “responsibilities as an ambassador between people” was part of the definition.
The second speaker, Mag. Florian Schirg, student at the WU Vienna and part of the institution for Entrepreneurship and Innovation could gain access to the “world stage” through lots of experiences, which he could make trough different internships abroad, a semester abroad and his travels. He mentioned that he could witness an open and appreciative attitude through adapting to different cultures and inhabitant’s lifestyles. Belgium, South India and Cameroon were just some of his stops on his travels.
Claire Laurent, the third speaker, who works at the “International Organization of Migration” (IOM) and originates from an intercultural family, talked about her experience, that she doesn’t feel completely at home anywhere and how important it is to learn from different people. To be open for differences is the foundation to meet somebody without perceptions. The fourth speaker, Patricia Smolean, who has Rumanian-Hungarian roots, is one of the team leaders of the worldwide biggest student organisation AIESEC and is responsible for the project “Colours of the World”, which promotes tolerance for students. She highlighted that to think “outside of the box” and humaneness is a prerequisite to encounter people without prejudices.
At the end, Dominic Zöhrer, the moderator of the panel discussion addressed the speakers with the question of which skills, knowledge and values are necessary for a “Global Citizen”. Besides empathy and tolerance, the dominating points were: open communication, as well as a selfless attitude and also thinking about other people. Though the comments and questions from the audience afterwards, one can assume that the personal experiences and assumptions of the individual panel speakers have made the audience reflect about each and everyone’s own role as a citizen of this world. The evening came to a close with everybody enjoying an intercultural buffet while sharing their thoughts and opinions with each other.
As the Youth UPF is planning a European youth conference to the topic “Exploring Global Citizenship” in the end of this year, this event was a good step forward and a good foundation for further events.