“Youth and State: Partnership4Development” in Lviv – our first international activity as YEAs
December 22, 2018

“Youth and State: Partnership4Development” in Lviv – our first international activity as YEAs


By Nensi (Armenia) and Olga (Belarus)

Hello, we are Young European Ambassadors from two Eastern Partner countries – Armenia and Belarus – who were honored to take part in the Youth and State: Partnership4Development in Lviv, Ukraine. The conference, taking place on December 7-8, brought together more than 120 participants from Eastern Partner countries as the first interdisciplinary and cross-institutional dialogue platform for all six Eastern Partner countries.

Aside from being the first-ever international activity for both of us, we were glad to make new friends with other Young European Ambassadors who were also present at the event. It was very nice to meet people with similar interests, ideas and views on life. At such meetings, people always listen to each other’s opinions with interest and attention, share useful experiences and inspire each other to take action. It was beautiful!

Olga: “I am quite fresh in this area, so I felt like a sponge, absorbing a lot of useful experiences and  information.”

On the day of our arrival, we visited the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), one of the top institutions in Ukraine. Mr. Yurii Pidlisnyj, Doctor of Philosophy and Head of the Department of Political Sciences, presented the headline of the trust to act. How did he do this? Simply by using  children’s examples and with the help of questions that forced us to plunge into the very depth of the problem.

Nensi “During his speech it was the first time I was honored to represent my country (Armenia) because the speaker mentioned Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia and asked “How much do you trust him?”

Amidst luxurious catering, accompanied by live classical music, we had the chance to get acquainted with more YEAs, mostly from Ukraine. We discovered that the orchestra had already organized a concert in Yerevan, Armenia, which came as a pleasant surprise to Nensi.

The first day of the conference started very amicably with a series of ice-breaking activities conducted by Maryna Korzh. We got welcome-bags with notebooks andcolorful socks! Then we exchanged socks between participants, due to their different sizes, with the aim of getting to know each other better. Eventually we had amazing photos with the socks. Indeed, colourful socks made us a real family… this was especially nice, since it was snowing outside!

Throughout the day, various speakers held discussions on the following topics:

  • Why youth participation?
  • Enablers and Breakers
  • Research on youth policies in the Eastern Partner countries
  • Key international programmes on youth participation
  • Globalizing Voices: International networks enabling youth participation

During the Q&A sessions, it was obvious to everyone that the Young European Ambassadors formed the majority of participants. Even those participants who were representing their NGOs and other institutions, were simultaneously YEAs as well.

One of the really memorable events of the conference was “speed-debating”. The activity was conducted in an interactive manner with limited time for pondering about our answers, entertaining different international speakers during each round. This was, in our opinion, one of the greatest ways to discuss multifaceted issues: everything was concrete, succinct and to the point. In addition, this format allowed us to consider issues from different perspectives,  in our case – from those of each of the participating countries. It was impressive how informed people are about youth-state nexus, including the relevant legislation in this area. Indeed, the participants had their own clear position and ideas on how to improve the situation. Basically, that is what we are striving for, and so, we were listening with gaping mouths. This kind of interaction is not at all tedious or boring.

Of course, the above-mentioned sessions were interactive, but the best networking opportunities took place during the breaks. We organized an official meeting with all the YEAs at the event. It was quite impressive to see more than 20 YEAs in one meeting room, getting acquainted with each other. We shared our insights and activities in our capacities as YEAs, drawing also upon our personal experiences.

Following this productive networking opportunities, as well as group photos, we participated in a capacity-building session about knowledge sharing, titled “Tips 4 Development”. It was dedicated to presentations by representatives of institutions sharing the opportunities for young people in the Eastern Partnership region to enhance their skills and knowledge with the aim of encouraging participation and partnership building (V4 Grant, NEO Ukraine, GoGlobal, British Council Ukraine, Lviv Regional State Administration, SALTO EECA RC). That was  very interesting and useful for us, since the information allowed us to learn how to make practical use of  study opportunities and scientific work abroad.

The second day of the conference also played host to another thought-provoking event, i.e. country group work. This involved analysis and discussion of existing challenges and ways forward in improving the environment for youth participation. We had to present our work to the others, triggering a real brainstorming session. Thanks to the given templates, namely the RMSOS model, used by the European Charter on Participation of Young People in Local Life, which encourages youth workers, young people, and local authorities to have a critical look at their projects, we were able to combine all of the information to better understand the question. For us as newbies, it was the best way to completely immerse ourselves into the situation of our countries and compare it to that of others.

The closing remarks built upon on the Eastern Partnership dimension, focusing on how we can boost youth participation in the region. This session allowed us to develop a comprehensive outlook of current youth policies, to consider the active tools and channels for participation and to discuss the options to centralize or decentralize the diversity of efforts undertaken by key stakeholders in the Eastern Partnership region.

Finally, where would you expect the most honest conversations and discussions to have taken place? This was of course during the coffee breaks! We can always learn the official position from formal sources, however the pitfalls, but also the new ideas, can only be discovered through personal and informal conversations. The pragmatic and rational people that we tend to be, it was especially useful to learn about all the complexities of different processes, which, as a rule, are not publicly voiced. This conference hosted a pool of people with similar interests and positions, thereby making it easy to identify a companion with whom you could have an interesting conversation, ask relevant questions and obtain interesting answers.

We all gained a lot of useful information, met wonderful people who have the opportunity to discuss the relationship between youth and state from different perspectives whilst hearing each other’s points of views, all the while having a great time! We are now well aware of the position of neighbouring countries on this issue, the kinds of experiences we can learn from and the painful areas that still require discussion. Big thank you to the “Youth and State: Partnership4Development” conference!

And thank you beautiful Lviv!

 

  • “Youth and State: Partnership4Development” in Lviv - our first international activity as YEAs
    The Young European Ambassadors
  • “Youth and State: Partnership4Development” in Lviv - our first international activity as YEAs
    The Young European Ambassadors
Nensi Mkrtchyan, Olga Pleskatsevich



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