Youth in Action Council of Europe European Youth Forum Lifelong Learning Platform Directorate of Youth Sport All different all equal
Home » Publications » Newsmail » Intro » Say what you think!?

Say what you think!?


For starters: I love YEU, and I think the work YEU does is great.

Well, I’m glad to have said that. It feels good to say how I truly feel about YEU. Most readers of this piece, I presume, think about YEU in a similar way and will not oppose the freedom to write and say such things like I just did. However, how would it be if I wrote something less positive about YEU?

Since the attacks on Charlie Hebdo freedom of speech has been in the spotlight. In many places in Europe people came together to defend the freedom of speech. But what does freedom of speech mean, and more specifically, what does it mean in youth work?

Right after the attacks many people quoted Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. This is what free speech is meant for, for those opinions people do not want to hear. It is important to protect those voices, because this enables us to criticise kings, governments, political ideologies and indeed, religions.

Personally, I believe there are limits to freedom of speech. But while I consider religion an idea, many other people consider it a fact. The difference between these worldviews can lead to diverging views on whether freedom of speech should be applied to this topic as well. My own limit would be at criticising people based on their race, skin colour or sexual orientation; the things people cannot change. But should my limit be the ultimate limit everybody should adhere to?

During the debates of last weeks I heard many things that crossed the borders I set, for example: all Jews are responsible for whatever Israel does, all coloured people should leave the Netherlands and gay people can’t drive. Although I disapprove of all that was said above, should I still defend people’s right to say it?

On the one side I can deny these people their right to freedom of speech. However, they will still hold the same opinion, but no one will explain them why it does not make sense. On the other side, if I allow them to say this, the victims of their speeches will be hurt and offended; while others may agree with the people who ‘say what they think’ and start saying the same.

The discussion mentioned above has been going on in my country for several years already, and I truly hope our society will be able to protect both its freedoms and its people. But how should we act if people behave in this way in a youth event? I would say that youth events are the best occasions for this kind of speech to come out. These are occasions where people can learn from each other, and if their prejudices are revealed, others can correct them. This is the way in which young people can learn and prepare themselves for society’s debates.

Youth for Exchange and Understanding, in a way, needs misunderstanding as well. When people are in their own group and safe environment, they understand each other, and their prejudices aren’t very clear. It is during the events YEU organises that youngsters meet people they don’t understand, people they’re maybe even a little afraid of. When they learn to understand the other, they can teach their own societies to do the same.

What do you think about freedom of speech in Youth events? And how should YEU deal with debates about ideologies and religions?

Julia Douma,

YEU Governing Board member

#metoo - A move against Women and Gender based Violence

#metoo is beyond being a man or a woman. Our Governing Board member tackles Women and Gender Based Violence motivated by the latest #metoo campaign. ... Continue→

YEU Project Developers Team - what is it about?

Giammarco René Casanova, GB Member, shares some thoughts on Fundraising and our Projects Developers Team ... Continue→

YEU Lets Talk




Making YEU stronger- Pushing for more recognition of Non Formal Education and more collaborations within the Civil Society

YEU this month got to boost its' presence within the network its' part of, but also taking part actively in an event in the European Parliament as a representative of the European Badges Alliance and ... Continue→

YEU celebrated 30 years

"YEU history began in 1980 when a group of people decided to organize an international camp and get to know young people from other side of the border. In the time of Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall, eve ... Continue→

Time to learn and redefine our future.

The intro to YEU's Newsmail, describing what happened during the last few weeks and passing our message as YEU family. ... Continue→

YEU introducing Policy Watch

YEU, throughout the years, has been developing new means and tools in favour of the MOs and in line with its mission and vision. International policies, targeted actions and mainstream fields where al ... Continue→

May you be YOU in 2016

May 2016 bring you health, happiness, love and peace. May you be active and creative. May you be YOU. ... Continue→

45 Job Hunters together on YEU Convention in Cyprus

From 17th until 30th of July YEU gathered 45 people coming from all around Europe to explore topic of youth unemployment and to motivate and encourage unemployed youth to start searching for a job aga ... Continue→

YEU - a new world full of surprises!

Another year is coming to an end, full of YEU events across Europe – we were learning, educating, innovating, changing ourselves and people around us, simply, dreaming together for better world we a ... Continue→

Jovana Vukovic – “Mykola Pekh” award YEU Youth Worker of the Year!

The winner of the “Mykola Pekh” award YEU Youth Worker of the Year is Jovana Vukovic! ... Continue→

YEU re-connected!

What is a youth organization without its roots? Some may say, well, youth organizations don’t need roots – they need to be focused on the present and future with making young people’s voice hear ... Continue→

YEU Year of Innovations

Youth work should be boring! On trainings and youth exchanges we should make sure that we always do the same energizers, activities, role-playing games and evaluation exercises. Habits are important a ... Continue→

Southern European Summer University 2014

From the 28th of July until the 2nd of August, more than 50 youth leaders from National Youth Councils and International Youth Organizations met in Alghero, Italy for the third edition of the Southern ... Continue→

Excuse me, is this hate yours?.

Coming from (post)conflict area is not easy – wars or conflicts make you a different person. You grow up faster; learn to live with less in life and with constant fear of poverty and loosing home. W ... Continue→

Mykola Pekh who will always inspire us

Dear friends, we are very sad to inform you that our friend and leader of our Member Organization Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Mykola Pekh has suddenly passed away. Mykola gave great contribution t ... Continue→

YEU Developing YOU in Perugia

YEU Developing YOU is the annual YEU event that aims at raising the skills and competences of YEU members, focusing each year on a different topic. This year, with the support of the Council of Europe ... Continue→

Workplan of GB - vision for future of YEU

In one year we see YEU as an inclusive learning platform which serves to its members, a voice of YEU Member Organisations in Europe, visible, known and recognised as one of the most important provider ... Continue→

YEU Representation in The Advisory Council on Youth

In April 2013, YEU has been elected for the second mandate in Advisory Council (AC) on Youth of Council of Europe. The AC is made up of 30 representatives from youth NGOs and networks which provide op ... Continue→

YEU - a space for empowerment

I never had the dream to become YEU president, but I always had the dream to contribute to the development of something which is bigger than me. At the time when I participated in my first YEU event m ... Continue→

YEU website got new looks!

This month, we have decided not to dedicate our intro to any specific topic. We've decided to introduce you to YEU a bit more by presenting our new web site! ... Continue→

YEU has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727066