Where did this magical thing happen? In a small town in Germany, Herrsching am Ammersee, at the 27th International Leadership Workshop for Rural Youth. YPARD Europe had enabled spots for five YPARD members. But later on, we also met with YPARD Rwanda and Iran representatives as well as members from Bangladesh and Egypt. The event started in the best possible way.
Almost a hundred young people from 67 countries around the world participated with the common goal of learning to put our teams and local communities in motion as efficient as possible once we return home. This year's workshop motto was “Learning-Sharing-Creating!” and every word represented one part of the workshop. Perfect, simple, and exactly the way it went.
In the first, “Learning” part, we covered the development of our leadership characteristics. These included group work dynamics and different techniques such as communication and cooperation, motivation, conflict management, as well as presentation skills. Coming from diverse language backgrounds contributed a great deal to our learning. The differences in our characters, existing knowledge and cultures made us look in a more open way at situations at hand and topics we were working on. We learned to be team players and better listeners all the while respecting each other’s differences.
It started with the World conference at the world café where participants were divided into 12 groups at 12 tables. Four topics were debated, each with three cycles of half an hour. These topics included; Rural development; Food security; Sustainable resources use and environmental protection and Education and training.
Each table discussed opportunities, challenges and best practices, with real life experiences from participants home or organizations they represented. I went through three topics; rural development, education and training, and food security as my aim was to hear as much foreign experiences as possible, compare them with the situation in my country, and EU, and to write down the good ones. Although at first it can seem that cases from the developing world can’t have much in common with us from the developed world, the reality is exactly the opposite. There were young leaders from around the world brainstorming and writing their ideas on table cloths and they gathered around the same bunch of problems with similar proposals to the solutions. That was a really powerful moment. Almost all of us have the same shared problems of rural depopulation, lack of young people’s motivation to stay in rural areas, high tuition fees, lack of scholarship and infrastructure.
Later on, we picked a topic to focus on and i went over to the Food security group. The challenges to be tackled by coming generations seemed smaller when we wrote experiences and best practices by their side as well. These positive examples are an indicator that slowly but steadily a lot of troublesome issues are being solved and the same goes for all four topics.
Your opinion and experience matters, it can start a small change somewhere
I learned something about the fantastic best practice examples from Belarus, that of ensuring employment in rural areas for youth after finishing school; Youth friendly centres in Rwanda; Community centres in Ghana aided by FAO, and many more. Of greater use was the “experts dialogue”, when we debated in smaller groups the best practice examples we were the most interested in from the posters. These among others form part of my collection on initiatives in other parts of the world which I will try and implement in my local community and who knows? This expansion of knowledge and experiences which might start something good a thousand miles away.
The feeling we are all a part of the same wave of positive change is one of the best things this seminar brought to all of us alongside networking. Communication and sharing does not stop by leaving Hersching. We’ve only just begun!