Guided by the motto that Youth is the cornerstone of the presence and the future, the Community Conflict Transformation Through Youth Work which took place in Vienna, Austria from 11 to 18 August 2023, hosted 32 youth workers, mentors, leaders, and facilitators from Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Romania, and Poland as well as Tunisia, and Algeria with various intercultural backgrounds and disciplines. This one week-long capacity-building training was aimed at developing the skills of youth workers and leaders to become active changemakers and multipliers of impact on the local level to transform youth-relevant social conflicts. The training was made possible by the support of the European Commission within ERASMUS+.
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.
At 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 and ways of dealing and transforming youth-relevant issues.
As the days passed, 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. Some of the methods included the Problem Tree, Actors Mapping, PIN Model, and Timeline. Furthermore, non-formal training methods such as role-play, scenarios, and simulations had a big impact on participants. Especially the educational games helped participants to experience communication as a core conflict transformation tool and an essential transformation skill.
For the participants, the last days were all about designing their own initiatives and bringing theory into practice. They defined a local issue in which they want to achieve positive change. After a drafting and brainstorming phase, country groups started working together and continued to work together. Based on the topic of interest, participants were encouraged to start with the project planning. 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.
Besides gaining new knowledge and increasing understanding of everyone's positions and cultures, the participants bonded strongly on a personal level. Throughout the training 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. 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 - in an inclusive vibrant atmosphere.
The training continued to create ripple change on the local level in 10 different countries through the actual implementation of some of the newly designed youth transformation initiatives. These took different forms online and offline, making use of the learned intervention methods during the training course. More of the follow-up activities are expected to be implemented in the next months and some of the activities are expected to continue regularly. Here are some impressions and insights from some of the initiatives reaching more than 200 youngsters and youth workers!
"This was my first training course but it certainly won't be my last! Thanks to this opportunity I was able to fly to Vienna and meet so many wonderful people from all over the world who accompanied me throughout the course. This experience helped me grow as a person and I returned home with more awareness of the contemporary European scene. Would I recommend this adventure to everyone? Absolutely" - Adele from Italy.
Finally, stemming from our firm belief that interculturality is an essential core of conflict transformation, we made extra efforts to include two extra external participants from Algeria and Tunisia thanks to Anna Lindh Foundation and its program ALFMOTION. This proved to be very valuable for conflict transformation because it brought more diverse perspectives and insights that helped the discussions to be even more constructive!
The project with implemented with the following partners:
Croatia: Culture Clash Croatia
Hungary: Szubjektív Értékek Alapítvány
Italy: ICSE & co.
Spain: Brisa Intercultural
Poland: Fundacja "Innowatorium"
Romania: Asociatia KASTA MORRELY
as well as
Algeria: INNOVA ACADEMY
More project details are on the ERASMUS+ results platform in its Project Card.
Role of EMOTiC in this project: Main Coordinator and Beneficiary.