by Valentin Riermeier
“Crossing Paths – Driving Change” is a training course for youth workers from all over the world on topics such as mobilising young people, sustainability in everyday life and environmental protection. But what does that mean?
For us as the planning team it meant the world. It started as a small idea out of the Action Leader Training. Five future action leaders decided to organize a summer camp for young people. 20 people were to be there and in a cosy atmosphere we wanted to do exercises and activities on sustainability in everyday life with the participants.
At the end of the day, we could not have known that it would be a 10 day long, EU-sponsored summer training with participants of all ages from 10 different countries.
July 4th: 25 people from 10 countries gathered at the LebenGutMiteinander, our accommodation for the next 10 days. The atmosphere was tense for us as a team, but we knew the programme was set, the experts were ready and the coffee machine worked.
The location of the training is not chosen at random. The LebenGutMiteinander and its 17 residents live sustainability at all times. They plant their own vegetables, filter their own water and produce their own electricity. In this way we wanted to bring this different way of life closer to those participants who do not necessarily come from sustainable thinking environments.
For 10 days we lived, learned, ate, discussed and laughed together. The first days were dedicated to the topic of youth empowerment. An approach to youth work that does not aim to influence the opinions, habits or everyday life of young people. Empowerment is more about supporting young people, giving them back the belief in their own creativity, strength and power to bring change.
In addition to youth empowerment, the exchange of knowledge between youth workers was a major topic. It is hardly surprising that with participants from Serbia, Ukraine, Germany, Iraq, Bhutan, Romania, Greece, Hong Kong, Turkey and Austria the conversations never run out of topics. What is the access of other countries to youth work? What works in other countries and why would the same approach work in your own country? And why not?
We have tried to offer enough space for a deeper personal experience. Every evening our guests were sent out into nature alone for 10 to 20 minutes to think about the day, enjoy nature or simply save the world.
Besides the workshops and the fixed program, there was one thing that was almost more important: the feeling of being at an event where people from all over the world are. The conversations during a meal, for example, in which you learn more about a foreign country than you could ever imagine.
The atmosphere that emerged at “Crossing Paths – Driving Change” was unique. We have achieved what we wanted. For 10 days the LebenGutMiteinander was a place of learning, motivation and living proof of the importance of intercultural experience. And this is something we are extremely grateful for.
And what will happen next with “Crossing Paths – Driving Change”? Well, the foundation stone has been laid, international friendships have been made and methods and know-how have been passed on. Right from the start, one of the goals of our project was to support the participants in sustainable projects after the main event. Some of them went home with fixed plans of what they want to tackle in their home country. All projects that now arise from “Crossing Paths – Driving Change”, will receive our fullest support. Towards the end of the training some people even rumored they could imagine planning the same event next year in their own country.
Maybe we’ll see each other in Hong Kong soon?
This project is made possible by the generous support of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.
The European Commission support for the project does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
About the author
As a student, I have been looking for a way to protect the environment. Unfortunately, I had the feeling that it was impossible to find groups or networks on this topic, especially for young people. In 2017, I found Generation Earth and completed the Action Leader Training. I learned a lot, about myself, nature and countless other things and in the end I organised the event “Crossing Paths – Driving Change” with five very great people, who are also part of Generation Earth. An experience I don’t want to forget.Valentin