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Youth UPF

European, African and Middle Eastern Youth Converge in Malta

Qawra, Malta - Thirty-six young people from the United Kingdom, Finland, Austria, Italy, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Palestine gathered in Malta Oct. 20-27, 2013 to share experiences and explore perspectives on what “real social change” is. They exemplified the spirit of incubating positive transformation and produced visible results.

The first three and a half days were dedicated to the very diverse group getting to know each other. Under the theme “backgrounds and common grounds,” we learned 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 did not 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 dichotonomies). A follow-up art project is in planning. From the initiative of the Tunisian partner, a group sat down to develop a one-semester Change Maker program for students in post-revolution Tunisia, as a contribution to building 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.

"When young people inspired by God’s true love dedicate themselves to sacrifice and service, they can begin to solve poverty and hunger throughout the world. They can begin to heal the wounds caused by differences between rich and poor. They can help people overcome the animosities and hatreds arising from different historical experiences. True love means to love that which cannot be loved. From this definition we can acquire a clear sense of direction for overcoming relationships of enmity and conflict." - Dr. Sun Myung Moon, Founder of UPF

 

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