Last week, I was privileged enough to spend a week in Tbilisi, Georgia with an incredible group of young people who want to bring about change in their communities, who have a willingness to work towards peace in their communities and between their countries. Over the week I saw young people come together, build relationships in unexpected places, between countries that would, traditionally, not get along. These people have worked together to produce content for the Roots social media, they have spent time getting to know each other’s stories, building friendships. They have explored different ways of analysing conflict and ways in which to “do” peace work. They shared best practices from their own context and have learnt from each other as well as those facilitating the sessions. It has been a good week!
Some may be aware that in previous Peace Work Institute we, by complete accident on the streets of Istanbul, started a tradition of having a tea party as our intercultural evening. This tradition has been carried forward into this cohort of peace activists. Half way through the week, we held our first intercultural tea evening – 13 countries (some countries have had to leave a little earlier than planned) shared their traditional tea and treats, and were able to see that despite all the differences between the countries, the political tensions present in the world, that there are a lot more in common when we enjoy time together over a good cuppa tea!
The week ended with a piece of reflective work led by Adi Davies, World YMCA staff and (referred to by those in the know) as a son of England living in Kosovo. A beautiful session where the participants could reflect on the impact that other individuals have had on their journey during the week. An emotional and meaningful way to end the week.
As we bring this week to a close, we look forward to the next stage. What will happen in Berlin and after. They participants have work to do in the meantime; present about Roots and the Peace Work Institute to someone of influence back in their YMCA (or sending organisation). We look forward to hearing about how this went when we meet again.
Fancy seeing the photos from the event, check them out here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ymcaeurope/sets/72157680452824261/
I am blessed to be part of this programme and be part of the Youth Ambassadors programme for YMCA England that opens up many opportunities for young people to share and learn through programmes such as this one; bringing about change on an individual level as well as having a wider impact on the YMCA and our local communities!