Why global connections are a key driver for positive change
May 27, 2024

Why global connections are a key driver for positive change


Exploring the power of connections is like uncovering a hidden treasure chest. 

We’ve all heard about the idea, but do we truly grasp its importance? Every day, we connect with many people – family members, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, even strangers. Sometimes, we don’t even realise how much these connections mean to us, and we might even take them for granted. Nevertheless, life without them would definitely be mundane.

But what about connections on a more global scale?

I truly believe that the essence of connections lies in their remarkable ability to broaden our horizons and encourage us to think out of the box. One of the cornerstone events in my life that made me acknowledge this concept was my Erasmus+ experience back in 2020, when I had the unforgettable experience of living among almost 15 diverse nationalities

I was living in Viterbo, a small, but amazingly beautiful historic city in the Lazio region. I spent six months there and had the opportunity to live among Italians, Spaniards, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Indians, Georgians, Pakistanis, Poles, Albanians, and Bosnians, among other nationalities. It was an added value to the experience that we all came from different fields of study – I was studying public international law, while others were studying forestry, art history, biology, international relations, food technology, etc.

Living in the same place meant that I could chat about all sorts of things with them. It was an eye-opening experience for me, in part because back home I had mostly hung out with people from my own field. What’s more, where you’re from inevitably influences how you see things. For instance, I never really thought that much about environmental issues until I was surrounded by people who did. I connected instantly with students studying food technology. They were curious about Georgian cuisine, so I got to see my food through their professional eyes. It made me appreciate the textures and techniques behind the delicious flavours even more.

In the beginning, chatting about our traditional cuisine was a big topic. It helped us understand each other’s cultures and even ourselves better. It really changed how I saw things. Connecting with people with different nationalities, political and social cultures and delving into different kinds of conversations with them, taught me more than any amount of reading or research ever could.

I should also mention that living in a foreign country sometimes leads to cultural shocks as well. My case was no exception. Even though I did a meticulous research on what to expect before going to Italy, nothing prepared me for the importance of food culture there. And it was the same with Spanish people as well — they turned every dinner into a party, with singing and dancing. It was like a mini festival every time. I enjoyed hanging out with them in the kitchen during these moments; their energy was very contagious. Overall, through those interactions, I discovered that personal connections serve as the most profound avenues to learn, discover and understand each other..

To put those ideas into greater context, we can “translate” the power of those connections into civic activism as well. For instance, the year 2024 has been billed as the “year of elections”, around half the world will go to the polls — some 4 billion people in 76 nations — the most of any year on record. We will be having elections in Georgia, as well as in the EU. The EP elections are scheduled to happen from 6-9 June, following the electoral regulations of each member state. As for Georgia, the Parliamentary elections are set for 26 October, 2024. Also, there’ll be presidential elections in Georgia this year, under a new system. 

Therefore, attention needs to shift to the transformative role of young people in shaping the future of democracy. There’s a critical need to actively engage and mobilise youth on a global scale. The significance of power becomes particularly apparent in this context. There’s a profound sense of empowerment that comes with exercising one’s right to vote and engaging in civic activities. As I write this article, my friends and I are actively protesting against the proposed draft Law of Georgia on Foreign Influence Transparency (the so-called “Russian Law”). The same law was withdrawn last year from parliament following mass protests by a broad cross-section of Georgians. The controversial law is condemned by all our Western allies, including the recent joint resolution of the European Parliament

There’s something incredibly empowering about knowing you’re not alone, especially when friends around the world are united in promoting a democratic way of life in their own countries as well. The friends I made in Italy are actively keeping up with the news from Georgia, reaching out to me, and sharing updates to raise awareness about this issue. This sense of interconnectedness with peers from diverse backgrounds and cultures serves as a powerful source of motivation and inspiration. 

My friends from Poland were sharing their own experiences, as Poland provided a remarkable example last year on how youth played a role in safeguarding democracy – “No Country for Old Men’: How young voters helped swing the elections in Poland” , “We have a chance to change Poland’: how young voters shaped the election result”Witnessing others making strides in their respective democratic movements fosters a belief in one’s own ability to effect change.

Picture this: young individuals from various backgrounds and corners of the globe coming together, united by a common goal. Their collective voice, amplified through social media and grassroots movements, resonates far beyond geographical boundaries, sparking conversations and inspiring action. Together, we can emphasise the significance of voting as a fundamental civic duty, instilling a sense of responsibility and empowerment among young citizens worldwide.

Connecting with your peers around the world (even virtually) is an immense kind of support that may not be tangible to the naked eye but is deeply felt. Ultimately, such global networks support the idea that individual actions can lead to far-reaching impacts. They instill a sense of confidence and determination, compelling individuals to strive for positive change in their own communities and beyond.

In Georgia, where elections are on the horizon, there’s a unique opportunity to collaborate with YEAs from various countries and learn from each other. By coming together, we can plan joint initiatives, pool resources, and amplify our impact in promoting active citizenship and of course, civic involvement. Promoting active citizenship involves paying attention to even the small things, like spreading campaigns on social media, and sharing our country’s best experiences.

For instance, back in 2016, there was a fantastic initiative, a summer school called “Your Voice is Our Future.” It encouraged lots of young people to get involved in voting by training them on election topics and common issues. Camps, schools, and all kinds of educational activities like this could have a big impact because, in the end, hearing from someone your own age, who understands your challenges and thoughts, can be more relatable.

This collaborative approach opens the doors to meaningful discussions about democratic participation, paving the way for a new wave of globally aware and empowered citizens. This is precisely why I strongly advocate for seeing connections as catalysts for change, capable of nurturing alliances and strategic partnerships among young people. 




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