Sadly, the this year's youth conference has come to an end. What have you learnt? Who has the conference impacted you? And what will you change in your life because of you experiences over the last couple of days?
Ana Manvelishvili (Georgia)
"The most important topic for me is inclusiveness, if you want to be a part of a political process you should think about everyone's involvement in forming a community for a better future. That was my first time participation in the Youth conference and I received more information about inclusiveness and also intersectionality. I believe that Inclusive society is not a charity, it is not a kindness it is just everyone's right to be a fully enfranchised member of our community. The biggest challenge for me in my home country Georgia is the lack of an accessible environment for disabled people. So I am going to be more active in that case and want to create a better adaptive social environment for people because I do believe that this space is for everyone!"
Lennart Glizenhirn (Germany)
"I learned a lot from the conference in general, but especially from the key note speech about intersectionality that made me realize why it is important to address different forms of discrimination together and not separately. While talking to other participants, I was shocked to hear how bad the situation for minorities in some countries is. It is really different to listen to someone speak about their personal experiences than to just read about certain laws from a distance. Though, what gave me hope was that our generation seems to be more aware of these issues and that for us, diversity truly is something to celebrate. On the path to a better and more diverse society, I believe Germany still has a long road ahead especially when it comes to dealing with its colonial past. In schools, our colonial history is often only briefly mentioned and told as if it was not as bad as in other countries. Also, in many cities like Berlin (where I live), there are still some streets named after colonialists who are often responsible for genocides or mass murder. In the last few years, the topic of renaming them slowly gained more popularity but it is a really slow process."
Viktor Marčeta (Montenegro)
"I gaines some new tools to combat prejudices and learned about people who fight for civil rights. It's a whole other story when you hear about some particular subjects from people who dedicate their careers to a topic like intersecional justice (the topic of Emilia Zenzile's Keynote). As always, practice impacts more than theory so this time it's also the case. The start of the "new concepts of culture to counter prejudice" was really great, Cihan showed us 6 pictures of people and we needed to decide quickly with whom we want to sit or not, then we discussed it in breakout rooms, and after that he showed us their biographies so he can prove that our eyes can truly lie and make us have stereotypes. A really big challenge today is to combat fake news, from fake news are coming all kinds of things that impact stereotypes, racial and demographic discrimination and separation. Generally people believe in everything the media says and it creates a wide range of problems. Also, workers exploitation is a worldwide problem."
Se McCarty (Germany)
"I learned a lot from the organization and coordination of this conference: how to utilize multiple platforms to make an online conference fun, engaging, and multifaceted. I appreciate all the thought and effort that went into it. I really enjoyed the break out rooms -- the team games, the workshop on Tuesday and the bar camp sessions! It was really enriching to get to know each other in smaller groups, and hear from so many different people on so many different topics. A challenge I see in my community is the lack of intersectional approaches to organizing work. Various movements often feel unnecessarily separate from one another."
Csernyi Hanna (Hungary)
"I learned how to listen to different people's perspectives and how to learn and apply that into my personal space. It made me regain all my faith and hope that we, as a society can make the world a livable place for everyone. Of course! A challenge I see in my community is understanding and listening to people, or just considering the other one's perspective. People in my country are mostly rightists or far-rightists, and a lot of them are also ignorant. My experience is that the further they are on the radical scale, the less they are likely to listen to your point of view. I find it pretty sad, because when I would like to know their opinion and understand what they think, they don't reciprocate that. I see this as a huge barrier that becomes a challenge for non-radical people to overcome."
Pauline Eininger (Germany)
"The biggest take away for me personally was that connection can happen in many different ways and on different levels - even with a screen in between - and still be inspiring and encouraging. You just have to engage in conversation and see where it takes you. I would say that the keynote speech really opened my eyes in regard to reflecting on my own privileges. It pointed out how different systems of inequality are interlocking and it made me think about my own contribution to the (de-)stabilization of said systems. In the bar camp session I hosted, we were talking about the possible challenges LGBTQ-identifying people face when living in rural, more conservative areas instead of big cities. Despite being from different countries we agreed that gaining visibility and representation as well as finding queer safe spaces tends to be a struggle and those we try to do our best to change that."
Lea Kodel (Israel)
"I learned a lot about situations in Europe like the uprising of radical right, I learned that there are many people who are interested in peace and ways to corporate. The experience that impacted me the most is a dissociation between people from Germany, Greece, Hungary and Israel ( where I'm from) and the perspective about life, also the workshop about the prejudice. One of the challenges I see in my community is indifference, people live in their little bubble and find it convincing to forget about other people and Countries, forget about climate change because meat is tasty, and forget about people that live under oppression or things like that because it's unpleasant to engage with."
"During the keynote I learned about the concept of intersectionality that was presented by the speaker in great detail. Dr. Emilia Roig introduced to the participant’s different sides of discrimination that all need to be addressed for the purpose of social inclusion of minority groups. As a practical solution to the problems she offered to us the method of social prejudice deconstruction to help fight discrimination and achieve social justice. Besides, over the course of the keynote I worked out a solid understanding of the distinction between equality and equity as well as policies that promote either of the concepts. Especially, I liked how all the theoretical concepts were illustrated during the presentation, which made complex things very comprehensible. The workshop I attended introduced the history of the Black Lives Matter campaign. It was very surprising to me that it was, in fact, much older than most of us might think and dated back to 2013. Andrea-Vicky Amankwaa-Birago gave the participants knowledge of the most common mistakes that a person not belonging to a minority group might make while trying to contribute to such a movement as Black Lives Matter. The most important takeaway from the session, in my opinion, was the thought that racism must not only be fought in the world surrounding activists, but also in themselves, which implies all of us accepting being unintentional carriers of racism and trying to overcome that with no shame. In addition, the quizzes offered to the participants of the conference by the organizing team not only gave us an opportunity to find out immediately some new facts about diversity, equality and inclusion but also encouraged to make further research on the topic. The ideas that were voiced during the conference are very important and helpful for enhancing inclusion in the modern world. However, it is very hard to communicate them to broader public that collectively is responsible for social exclusion."
Katsiaryna Shafranovich (Belarus)
"The main thing I learnt is, unfortunately, how discrimination is spread all around the world. The topic of the workshop I chose was about inclusion. And during the discussion I understood that many countries, including mine (Belarus), do not consider lack of infrastructure and exclusion of people with disabilities from social life as a real problem. In my society I am absolutely sure we have to pay more attention to people with disabilities. First of all, it is necessary to provide access to education for such people. More important, they should not be isolated from other people, but should work together. It is the task of authorities to provide infrastructural support, so as people can join their colleagues and study together. Secondly, it is also important to raise awareness in educative process and various educational programs."
Written by: Lili Guguchia