With fifteen (potential) youth leaders we travel through Ukraine, reflecting on political and personal development. Aims towards skills development to make a change in society based on respect for diversity.
Since the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ (known as ‘Maydan’) sparked up at the end of 2014, Ukraine has found itself in crisis. Internal (separatist and patriotic movements) and external forces (Russian occupation) are obstructing attempts to solve the conflict. Potential youth leaders are part of the solution in which peace and mutual respect for diversity go hand in hand. Unlike many representatives of the elder generations, youngsters often feel that their efforts can make a difference in creating the future they envisage. Hence, the aim of this project is to bolster the potential of youth leaders / young activists and generate respect for diversity through exchange and training. We try to do this through a yearly organised tour since 2015.
Interested candidates respond to the recruitment by answering various questions. People are selected based on motivation, geography, sex and willingness to engage in dialogue (no matter their stance). Hence, participants come from all over Ukraine, even the non-governmental controlled areas (NGCA).
The main activity of this project is the travel itself, during which different smaller activities take place. As many Ukrainians have not travelled much outside their own region, the activity of ‘travelling’ itself is valuable. By doing so, and through the conversations within the group and with host communities, the participants learn more about their own country, which can lead to a greater feeling of interconnectedness.
During the tour different workshops (as personal development and group workshops) are given by two facilitators, mainly based on the non-violent communication (NVC) approach. Within the group workshops, a safe environment is created in which sensitive social and personal topics can be discussed. The participants will also be stimulated to realize that one does not have to wait for the government to take action, but they can also initiate change themselves, step by step. To get a better view on the different possibilities of doing so, participants learn how to structure a Personal Development Plan (PoP).
Guest speakers provide input for dynamic discussions. These guest lectures are reviewed within the group workshops afterwards.
The first challenge is to attract a diverse group of people within Ukraine, but we do persist in aiming to do so. Followed by the second challenge: inspire the youth during the travel in such a way that they will also actually act for change within their own environment after the Youth Peace Tour has ended. This hence concerns the follow-up of the project.