Guided by the motto that Youth is the cornerstone of the presence and the future, the Grassroots Conflict Transformation Training which took place between the 19th and the 25th of August 2021, hosted 25 young leaders from Vienna with various intercultural backgrounds and disciplines. This one week-long capacity-building training was aimed at developing the skills of youth to become active changemakers and multipliers of impact on the local level. The training was made possible by the support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe in the framework of the local pilot project titled ENGAGEMENT 1.0: Building a Sense of Initiative and Intervention.
During this week, the participants came together to learn new skills, methods and tools about conflict transformation and social peacebuilding. Trained how to better engage in the civic society and learned how the framework of visible and invisible violence can serve as a guiding method for finding viable solutions to conflicts. The training helped the participants to analyse social issues in communities and design initiatives in those contexts. The training further provided participants with the skills to design project plans and implement those initiatives in the follow-up phase to create local change.
In the beginning of the training, the participants were instructed to define and discuss some concepts, such as conflict, violence, peace and solidarity. Together the participants evaluated and worked with the outcome to further extend their knowledge and create a better understanding of these complex topics. These definition exercises were followed by theoretical inputs. Participants learned about the framework of visible and invisible violence. This served as a method for finding solutions and developing transformation skills and tools to address topics in a constructive way to achieve a positive change in the community. It further helped as a method to analyse social conflicts.
While the days were passing, conversations were filled with exchanges about culture, conflict definitions and analyses. Participants learned different models to evaluate and analyse violence and conflicts in their main roots. Furthermore, non-formal training methods had a big impact on participants. Especially the educational games designed to let participants experience communication as a core conflict transformation tool.
For the participants, the last days were all about designing their own initiatives. They defined a local issue in which they want to achieve positive change. After a drafting and brainstorming phase, small groups were formed and continued to work together. Based on the topic of interest, participants were encouraged to start with the project planning. Participants were given information about how to apply for funding with a Solidarity Project. A lot of hard work and passion was put in, resulting in a great outcome and a variety of project ideas. In just a couple of days, some great projects were drafted, followed by concrete plans of implementation. After the training days were over, the project groups still received support by the EMOTiC team and helped them with their initiatives' implementation. The Follow-up initiatives in the months after the training are: podcast on mental health focusing on youth, a networking event for young women, and a photo exhibition that promotes diversity. All three initiatives are still running.
The training was a lot more than what was mentioned above though. Besides gaining new knowledge and increasing understanding of everyone's positions and cultures, the participants bonded strongly on a personal level. Throughout the 7 days of this intense process, participants exchanged, communicated and had also a lot of fun with each other. The educational games and interactive exercises helped deepening the connections between the participants beyond the training time. The training was accompanied by openness and respect of others' views. As EMOTiC, we especially loved to see how the impact of the training was enhanced by the diversity of the participants regarding their cultures, languages, genders, professional and personal backgrounds.
"(...) Bringing together different cultures and people from various backgrounds gave us great opportunities to connect with each other and share our experiences. This training definitely widened my horizon." - Anja Münzer
This project and its training activity were successfully realised thanks to the generous support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.
Role of EMOTiC in this project: Main Coordinator and Beneficiary.