A UPF volunteer reports from Training for Democratic Youth Participation in the framework of Euro-Arab youth cooperation, which took place in Nov. 29 – Dec. 6 in Budapest, Hungary. This training was part of a broader framework for European-Arab cooperation and Youth Participation organized by the council of Europe, were much relating to Youth UPF efforts for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation such as the Malta Project.
The training week, which took place in the beautiful city Budapest in Hungary was funded by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe inviting international activists from different NGO’s to take part in the training for democratic youth participation. The interaction between motivated young people provided the opportunity to share and deepen experiences and gain knowledge about the concepts of democracy, human rights and intercultural dialogue. Having skilled trainers facilitating seminars, workshops and group activities, based on the non-formal education model, it enhanced a framework where each participant could share and interact with other youth activists. A further aim of the week was to encourage, coordinate and help develop projects which foster democratic youth participation and encourage young people to contribute to youth policies and form joint projects by networking.
The participants who came from Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey/ Greece, Macedonia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, UK/Pakistan and Ireland/Libya had the opportunity to get to know each other through different activities, discussions and games. Furthermore they could present their NGO in the “NGO Bazaar” giving them the chance to form joint ventures between the organizations and share ideas, thoughts and tips.
Each person chose a learning buddy, with the intention of supporting each other throughout this course especially when creating and forming a project of their choice. For the next six months every participant will be facilitated by one of the five trainers and will be given guidance when working on and fulfilling their project. In that way the training week will be further extended giving the participants an ongoing support in the realization of their long-term aims.
Having Human Rights as a main focus throughout the week, the participants first had to question themselves and their commitment to the 30 different articles of Human Right laws. Being involved in a NGO, being a trainer or facilitator for democracy, one needs to act according to the Human Rights. In this case difficulties came up when the question arose about whether religion should take the lead over Human Rights, or if for example, homosexuals should be able to marry. These thoughts led to very interesting discussions, which gave us all a deeper insight into different opinions and points of view challenging us in our intercultural competence.
One afternoon the trainers and the young activists had the honor to talk to the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Jean Claude Mignon. After introducing himself personally to every participant, he explained what his job was about and what his ideas and hopes for the future were. Being very forthcoming and cooperative, the activists then had the opportunity to ask questions which Mr. Mignon answered thoroughly and honestly.
After a week of intense training and interaction, the group grew closer and the idea of the conference ending and everyone leaving Budapest became more difficult. It would be true to say that every individual left Budapest with a lot of new friends, ideas, experiences and motivation to spread the network. Trainings such as this one will always stay in our minds and will have a great impact on our future behavior.