Education for Global Citizenship (part 2)

Irene Incerti, Youth UPF representative, introducing UngDialog at the European Leadership Conference in Oslo, 21st – 22nd September 2012 after introducing the Universal Peace Federation (part 1):

I come from UngDialog, YouthDialog/YoungDialog, translated in English, organization for youth interested in faith and life-stances. I will now share about UngDialog’s contribution in Education for Global Citizenship and for Sustainable Peace for a sustainable Future.

UngDialog works to promote dialog and be a meeting point for youth with interest in faith and life-stances. For now we are an Oslo based organization, established in February 2011. In UngDialog is open for everybody interested in faith and life-stances. One does not need to belong to a specific faith community, everybody has an understanding of life and the interest in dialog and faith is what joins us. Faith is a great resource for peace in the world, but is sadly misused and misunderstood too often! The idea rose at a dialogseminar hosted at Nansen Academy in Lillehammer in 2009. The dialogseminar was an interfaith and life-stance seminar for youth in Norway and at the seminar an idea and a wish for a local based dialog group rose. We, some of the participants, together with two state supported organizations in Norway, STL (The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities) and LNU (The Norwegian Children and Youth Council) developed the idea and started UngDialog.

Education for Global Citizenship and Sustainable Peace

UngDialog promotes dialog as a tool for communication and focuses on the value of faith and life-stances for youth. We promote dialog through organizing different dialog activities. We want youth to be able to master the skill of dialog and use dialog in communication on all fields; be it personal between family and friends, at school, at work and on a professional level. We believe that communication based on dialog promotes a culture of understanding and peace.

Why peace through dialog?

It is sadly often in the meeting of people from different cultures or standpoints that conflict arises and one root is that we often regard “the unknown” as a threat. Open communication and understanding promotes peace. Instead of wrongly basing ones understanding of others on “what we think the other person means” and meeting people in debate, dialog is a way to communicate that opens for real knowledge of others. UngDialog focuses on active listening and giving everybody an equal amount of possibility and time to share about their viewpoint.

The starting point for dialog is to listen and then to share about one’s own thoughts and views – without the goal of convincing the other of your standpoints. By active listening in dialog one can reach a better understanding of the other person. Meeting a person in dialog does not mean the same as agreeing with the person, but it is meeting others with respect and accept that we have different viewpoints. In listening to the other one can gain new insight based on real facts and maybe realize common standpoints. Real knowledge of the other can break our misconceptions, prejudice and consequently promotes peace. Through understanding we can cooperate and live well together in a peaceful society and work together. Peace is a prerequisite for a sustainable future and it is when we work together across boundaries that we can reach far and create sustainable peace.

To put it in a picture, dialog is like flying in a hot air balloon. Once up in the sky looking down at the landscape you can see where it is connected and there are similarities, and where it differs. Meaning that in the dialog we can see where we have common points and where we have different viewpoints. It is that position we also can see where there are possibilities to break down walls and build new bridges. We can see where we can cooperate and how we can build a better society together.

Education for Global Citizenship

We believe dialog is a skill that can be developed and mastered. We wish that youth master and use this skill actively! One of our activities to promote and raise education in dialog is our regular minidialogs where youth interested in faith and life-stances meet up an afternoon/evening and share in dialog over a relevant topic. The minidialogs begin with a dialog exercises to develop our dialog skill. Then after a small introduction of the topic we break into small groups of maximum 4 people to listen and share about the topic. The small groups are a conscious choice to keep to the dialog rules of giving everybody an equal amount of possibility and time to share about their viewpoint.

A project of ours to promote education of dialog is to enter school and teach about dialog. Youth are the leaders of the future and we want to raise a new generation that bases their communication and understanding of others on dialog and real knowledge of the other, and not on debate and prejudice. By entering in school classes we can on an early level raise awareness of dialog. As well we can contribute in breaking down taboos among Norwegian youth in relation to faith. We want to show the importance of faith for many youth and the value in faith for youth and society.

UngDialog has also organized dialogseminars and dialogdinners to gather both interested youth and representatives for faith and life-stance youth organizations, many in cooperation with other organizations. Our latest dialogseminar was this summer at Nansen Academy. It was an international seminar covering the topics of “Dialog in conflict situations”, “The Arab spring and Aftermath” and “Economic crisis”.

UngDialog has also organized other dialog meetings and seminars, together with other organizations, some present here today like ECRL. Through these activities we work actively to contribute to sustainable peace. We acknowledge diversity as a richness in society. It is by building understanding and unity beyond differences we establish peace among us! Active steps need to be taken in this process, not only talking about dialog but actually exercising dialog and cooperation on a regular basis. We wish to continue and develop our cooperation with others, like you present here today.

Our wish is to spread UngDialog in all of Norway, but our vision also applies to the world. UngDialog cooperates with other organizations, to work for our common goals, as global citizens. We work as global citizens because we share a common vision which we work for. UngDialog wants to expand our cooperation with you present here today as well, for creating sustainable peace. And least but not last… cooperation together does not only work, it is also very inspiring and engaging.

Thank you for your attention!

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