We met and changed

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 to the very diverse group getting to know each other. Under the theme “backgrounds and common grounds” we learnt about each other’s lives and stories. An important element was that people trained and improved their blogging skills by telling each other’s story of change. The results of this activity can be found on the project’s blog. Several other sessions focused on UPF’s Principles of Peace, the role of leaders and leadership, the relationship between the individual and the group in a process of social change, and some more.

Young activists, artists, people with academic background, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and people with no religion, found within these few days a common ground which didn’t require them to agree on all points and views. We could still be a family – an active family. After a half-day out exploring the island of Malta, we created an open space (using the Open Space Technology) for participants to come up and start their group projects and processes of change.

One young Brit and a young Tunisian started working on a peace music project. They performed to the group on the last day and intend to develop an album “Creating Change” with contributions from around the world. From the initiative of a Maltese participant one group went out into Malta to produce an educational video on Halal food, since he sensed a lack of awareness of this topic in his country. Two Italian political science students went out with a questionnaire to find out how Maltese people see the relations between the economic crisis, the EU and the refugee situation.

An Egyptian-Tunisian-Austrian-Italian connection performed a powerful expressive art performance under the title “Life” expressing its dual characteristics (to be distinguished from dichtonomies). A follow-up art project is in planning. From the initiative of the Tunisian partner, a group set down to develop a one semester Change Maker program for students in post-revolution Tunisia, as a contribution to build capacities in a young civil society. The largest group joined the Shabka Team (the project’s media partner) to explore how the issue of refugees making their way under horrendous circumstances through the Mediterranean Sea to seek a new future in Europe is affecting the island of Malta. The output was a vast amount of material and encounters. Some of it has been worked into an article series “A journey to the walls of Europe.”

On the last day the Hon. Stefan Buontempo MP (Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport) joined us for a lively discussion, and the participants had time to reflect on their experience with each other. When being asked to write short messages of appreciation to each other it was difficult to stop. Creating Change managed to create a net of incredible young people spanning across the Mediterranean Sea. The seeds for many more initiatives towards a Trans-Mediterranean civil society were sown. We are looking forward to a variety of young and strong initiatives and will make sure to keep you updated.

Many thanks go to our partners Kids 4 Peace Jerusalem, the U20 Volunteer Network Cairo and HAQI from Tunis for the incredible work they are doing and their precious contributions to our journey. The project was funded by the European Commission’s Youth in Action Programme.

By Bogdan Pammer and Althea Corlett
Co-Directors of Creating Change

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