Learning that can transform intercultural conflict does not arise from a single event but throughout a process. The #Youth4Peace Training: EuroMed Peace Trainers has been carefully designed to maximise its impact and ensure its sustainability beyond the 20 young people that have completed the course. This blog will walk you through the learning cycle, highlighting the experiences of participants as we bring the project to a close.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
It all started in January earlier this year. Twenty young peacebuilders were selected to participate in a Training of Trainers (ToT) aimed at enhancing their training and facilitation skills. The ToT had a specific focus on issues shared across the Euro-Mediterranean context, such as fostering intercultural dialogue and youth participation in conflict transformation. To elevate everyone’s theoretical understanding to the same knowledge base, participants followed a six week-long online course. This phase did not only serve as a preparation for the on-site training, it was also a useful platform where participants had the opportunity to get to know one another and team up in small groups to work together. One participant pointed out that “the online part was really valuable” and translated well into the onsite training.
Participant-centred, Experiential & Intercultural Learning
The #Youth4Peace Training of Euro-Med Peace Trainers 2017 itself took place in The Hague between 26 February – 5 March 2017. After the first day, when everyone slowly trickled into the hostel, tired from their respective journeys from Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Lebanon, Palestine and other places, participants dove straight into the theory and practice of non-formal peace education. An energetic week of discussions, simulations, workshops built towards two days of practice labs, where the participants put what they had learned into practice; by organising and co-facilitating their own peacebuilding session.
Participants had a central role during the training, learning from each other by sharing their own knowledge, experience and ideas. “It gave us the space to take over the responsibility so as to discover our strengths and weaknesses and how to develop and enhance the competences in such a training”, said one participant. Intercultural learning and dialogue was another integral part of the educational approach and programme. This was maximised through team activities and encouraging work in small multicultural groups.
Multiplying Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
Participants had the unique opportunity to put their learning from the online and face-to-face training into practice by organising their own educational activities. These small-scale local activities are aimed to empower young people in their organisations or communities to take action for intercultural conflict transformation.
A participant from Young Leaders Entrepreneurs and Y-PEER Tunisia employed theatre-based techniques to mobilise young people for the prevention of violent ideologies, in regions of Tunisia where high numbers of youth have joined violent groups in Syria and Iraq. In the Netherlands, two participants teamed up with Kasbah Neuf to organise an event on polarisation in Dutch society with a focus on identity conflict, dialogue, and how to use stories to build peace. In Spain, the role of narratives in the spread of hate speech and human rights initiatives was analysed in a workshop organised by three participants in collaboration with Fundacio Catalunya Voluntaria and Nexes.
More than 220 additional young people have been reached so far, with many more local activities underway. And while the project may officially end, the developed knowledge, skills and attitudes will continue to be multiplied through an ever-growing group of young people in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
This project is supported by a grant from the Anna Lindh Foundation and Iona Stichting