Europe from Scratch – 35th YEU Convention and 30 Years of YEU International
"Europe from Scratch" is the title of 2016 YEU Convention. The Convention, funded by Erasmus Plus, is inspired by the EC project "A new narrative for Europe", designed to give a voice to the artistic, cultural, scientific and intellectual communities to articulate what Europe stands for today and tomorrow.
“Europe from Scratch”will take place from July 20th to July 30th in Belgium (Brussels and Ronse), involving 55 young people aged 18 to 30 from Belgium, Austria, Italy, Turkey, FYRoM, Portugal, Greece, Poland, UK, Lithuania and Cyprus.
YEU was born in 1986 with the aim of bringing young people together from all over Europe and to build peace, understanding, European citizenship and a common sense of belonging. These ideas and values, however, seem to strike with today's feelings and situation in Europe. Current social changes brought both more opportunities and more risks and constraints for all European citizens, above all for young people. In this unique period in Europe, young people (and society in general) have to face a great number of issues that make them more and more skeptical of the political and administrative machineries such as European institutions and less and less confident in Europe. That’s why we want to equip young people of today with the knowledge, competences and capacity for critical judgment, in order to be able to answer the questions they will have to face in the near future of EU: are some Europeans at risk of becoming permanently unemployable? how can Europe better integrate migrants? is people becoming more racist? why should young people bother voting in (European) elections? is the EU still only an economic bloc that countries join (only) for economic reasons? will countries ever decide to join or stay in the Union because of the common good (if such thing exists) instead of their national interests? Moreover, all these factors also translate in the lack of “belonging”: young people do not feel as European citizens. YEU believes that the development of European identity is an unfinished business which risks jeopardizing the concept of Europe itself and that has to be addressed: is a common European identity possible? what are the values and ideals that bring us together as European citizenship and how can we awake and embed them in us?
The 35th YEU Convention, which also overlaps with YEU 30th Birthday, aims at bringing participants on a journey through the roots and values of Europe and of YEU (dignity, social inclusion, solidarity, tolerance, human rights, intercultural dialogue) and to give them the opportunity to reflect and think about the birth of Europe and the concepts of European identity and citizenship, in order to "re-create" European society/community from scratch, overcoming cultural differences and setting common goals and values. Young people will: investigate current trends and issues; learn about European roots and history; gather different perspective on Europe and European identity; identify and create small practical tools that will help youth workers, trainers and youth organizations to deal with a changing Europe and its future scenarios; have the opportunity to recreate Europe from scratch, and therefore reflect on values/ideals, objectives, frameworks, institutions, relationships at the base of it; spread the information and increase awareness on the future of EU by creating and disseminating a shared “Agenda for future Europe”.
To sum up, the objectives of this 35th Convention are to give young people, youth workers and youth organizations the opportunity to reflect on the origins and roots of Europe (and of YEU), what values and ideals keep it together and how these values can be "adapted" and used to build a common and passionate feeling of belonging and of European identity in the world of today.
The project will be developed according to the specific and traditional features of YEU Conventions. The idea of Convention goes back to 1980, when the first YEU non-formal Catholic group from Germany, decided to organize an international camp with groups from Italy, Austria and Germany (august 1981). The same group organized a camp next year under the theme “Symbols in our lives“, with much more participants than before. And that’s how it started: the first International Youth Convention took place in august 1983.
The topics of conventions were more than symbolic (such as “Borders between people and peoples” , “Human Rights”or“Striving for Peace”) and always aimed at bringing together youth in Europe, fostering exchange, cooperation, dialogue and understnading. From the very beginning, more than hundred participants were divided in “Village Groups”(with mixed nationalities) that decided about the main aspects of the “Camp” through a democratic system of decision-making.
The spirit of exchanges and youth mobility, of peace and understanding, of diversity and community, was spread all around Europe, fostering the idea of a United Europe. The development of Conventions always took into consideration different aspects, that are still very visibile in 2016 Convention:
- Historical aspect and cultural research
- Existential aspect, including the opportunity of sharing a true experience day by day
- Political aspect, expressing the intentions about future of Europe
Some of these topics and aspects were discussed and developed by the Convention Core Team (Ieva Aleksandraviciute, Giammarco René Casanova, Sabina Sadixova, Alex El-Jbeily and Giulia Annibaletti, with the support of PET coordinator Nik Paddison) and facilitators (Srdjan Petkovic, Misha Ross, Valentina Trebbi, Filip Janevic, Milica Dimitrijevic) during the prep meeting, taking place in Brussels in June 25th-28th.
During this weekend the Core team and the facilitators met to set the agenda and to develop the main objectives and goals of each workshop, focusing on elaborating the definitive program and the division of the roles.
The Educational Approach
When we talk about Europe and its future, especially nowadays, we are not sure any more, what is ahead of us. In recent years Europe (within European Union and also geographical it's dimension) experienced different economic, security and identity imbalances and threads. Due to these reasons it is extremely important to assure that young people have active participation in creating Europe's future. During the convention, an innovative approach and new ways of collaboration within facilitators and core team are going to be used in order to support participants in defining Europe. That includes its’ values, principals and identity and at the same time increase learning process effectiveness within coordinating team. Using methods and tools of non-formal education, we all together are going to analyse past, present and future European growth phases and based on past and present experiences we are going to try to come with a joint vision for the “future Europe”. During the learning process we are going to explore what could be any possible ways for all young people to get involved in shaping Europe's future. All the workshops will be held based on Non-formal education methodology and will include different methods like discussions, simulations, brainstorming, world café, theatre and etc.
Insights from new facilitators
Valentina (Italy) – “My personal impression as facilitator is working with a motivated team, ready to face this Convention with the best premises and prepared to lead every activity.”
My name is Valentina, I'm a 21 year-old student of Languages for International Relations. During my experience in voluntary work for the organization La Fenice, I had the opportunity to get in involved in various European projects, such as Erasmus+ exchanges, and to help to organise them in my town, Tortona.
During the meeting for Convention, the Core team and the facilitators met to set the agenda and to develop the main objectives and goals of each workshop, focusing on elaborating the definitive program and the division of the roles.
My personal impression as facilitator is working with a motivated team, ready to face this Convention with the best premises and prepared to lead every activity. Personally I'm very interested in this kind of topics, as I also study international relations and I find important to have the awareness of what Europe is and the role of young people in it.
Moreover, I expect to achieve the common objectives, stimulating participants to share and comparing their ideas and opinions, based on their knowledge, taking into account the differences related to their cultures. Since it is my first opportunity to work as facilitator, I have also the expectation to learn a lot from who has more experience than me. The best challenge for me as facilitator will be to lead a group of my same age and learn from them at the same time. This is a way for me to develop my skills in this field and widen my cultural and working baggage.
Filip (FYROM/Macedonia)– “ I emphasize that my pleasure to be part of this team.”
Brussels office of YEU. I assumed that this would be one of those boring meetings without any energy that after a few days, no one remembers them. Obviously I had a very wrong assumption. I found myself in an office surrounded by people with incredible energy and dedication to what they do. These people really believe in the values they represent and fully invest themselves in achieving its goals. I emphasize that my pleasure to be part of this team. I hope that as facilitator I will manage to contribute towards successful convention and I will be able to present my views and opinions on the common values that we share with YEU. I look forward to the convention. I believe there will be many funny moments and certainly very new things learned thanks to this convention.