Cathrin Piesche

International youth conference delegates call for all young people to have international opportunities

Globalisation, Europe, international exchanges, tolerance, democracy and peaceful human coexistence: these were the topics on the agenda at the youth conference “We move tomorrow’s world”. Participants from all over the world travelled to Schwerin, Germany to spend three days discussing how current political developments are influencing their lives and mobility opportunities, how international mobility contributes towards more tolerance and understanding, and how more young people can be encouraged to spend a period abroad. On the last day, the delegates presented their recommendations to Federal Youth Minister Manuela Schwesig at Schwerin Palace, the state parliament.

eine Gruppe von Menschen - Manuela Schwesig, Marie-Luise Dreber, Lothar Harles und Jugendliche
BildImage: Anke Berger/IJAB

“All young people need to have the same opportunity to take part in an international exchange,” urged the young delegates during their meeting with the Federal Youth Minister. To level out the playing field, they said, there needs to be more information and advice on going abroad. The financial burden of a stay abroad needs to be reduced and the process made less bureaucratic. The delegates also emphasised the importance of Europe and of worldwide cooperation. To combat political apathy and nationalism, they called for more participation and more transparency. To this end, they suggested, it would be helpful if Europe figured more strongly in the school curriculum. Also, the presence of experienced international youth representatives – not just in schools – would help to highlight the benefits of international exchanges.

“Today’s young women and men have only ever known a Europe without borders,” said the Federal Youth Minister during her meeting with the young delegates. “The peace and unity we enjoy in Europe today is a historical achievement, one that can only be preserved if we keep the conversation going. If we want to maintain an open, tolerant society, it is important that young people can meet their peers from other countries face to face and learn about each other’s cultures. In times of profound change in Europe and the world, in particular, we need young people whose interest in other cultures leads to more cohesive and peaceful societies – which, in turn, helps to move tomorrow’s world.”

International youth work means that young people take a conscious decision to participate in a cross-border exchange, engage in learning and receive qualified support.

All delegates at the youth conference in Schwerin, to which IJAB had invited young people from more than 20 countries, had previously spent some time abroad at youth group exchanges, volunteer placements, work camps or school exchanges and had personally benefited from the experience. After all, international exchanges help young people develop on a personal level, feel part of society and give back to the community.

The delegates split up into several workshops and used their own experiences to draw up a set of recommendations for the international youth work community. What should a stay abroad ideally involve? What is the long-term impact of an international exchange? What needs to happen so that even more young people get a chance to go abroad for a while? How are terrorism, worldwide crises and political developments in Europe impacting on young people’s opportunities for a foreign stay?

The outcomes of the youth conference will also feed into the IJAB expert conference “Encounters. Change. Renewal. Challenges and opportunities for international youth work in a globalised world” on 18 May 2017 in Berlin, which will bring together youth work experts, researchers and policy-makers. This conference, like the youth conference in Schwerin, is part of a series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of IJAB.

>> Download the recommendations of the international conference “We move tomorrow’s world” here.

Lizenz: INT 4.0 – Namensnennung CC BY 4.0

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