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A story across the Prut River

luni, 29 iulie 2013

During the period 13th to 20th July 2013, at Vadu' lui Voda (Republic of Moldova, near the Nistru River), it was held the "Youth Participation as a way of change" training.

Everything has been designed and analyzed around the activities of young people and how they can become active citizens, responsible, able to understand the role and the need for them to become part of a civilized society.

The project had participants from eight countries (Romania, Rep.of  Moldova, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Denmark, Latvia, Germany). Being a diverse geographical identity and belonging, discussions and meetings were held sometimes pulsed difference of opinions. Even in this context, which often is not easy to manage (euroscepticism, interpreted differently democratic values, national identity, personal history of each participant's knowledge) have made possible to have a wealth of ideas, attitudes and controversies.
If I say that the project was a godsend, I wouldn`t be honest and at the same time I would not give priority to the differences between the concepts and values that youngsters award to themselves.

Can we considerate youth, in this respect, as a part of the change? Can they help improve the environment in which they coordinate their activities? Is there a core of common values that we identify, or rather, there should be one created?

Here are some questions that do not have an exact answer, as otherwise no one can be encapsulated in a fixed idea, is not accurate, fixed ideas, get in the game controversies. Or is it? If I do an overview of the most interesting discussions, I can say that from a colleague from Georgia I`ve learned how Aldous Huxley's texts "Brave New World" and George Orwell, 1984 designs have taken precedence over a young man from the country in a mixed read; the Siret-Prut-Nistru Euroregion exist with the fees paid by citizens, that the policy was an area of interest for the majority of the participants extended (often made it difficult to debate), that democracy has different kinds of interpretation (given national contexts), then I can say that the experience will not be forgotten.

It was actually not a very deep journey into the realities of each country's national policy on youth and the role of government in this regard, what is volunteering and how it's promoted, how important our role when make national strategy for youth (bottom up, or vice versa?). The two most important parts of the program were devoted to the idea of being active and ways to practice European citizenship ("Ways" to practice being European Citizens), the last of which was coordinated by me. The idea of being active can take many forms: responsibility, noticing problems around you, to use opportunities, socializing, etc. always give something back to the community. Certainly each of us has a different opinion on how to be active and manifests itself in different ways, by doing something else. Moreover, I find that to be active also means to inform (as I disseminate the information on my personal blog), to make known business leaders opinions or people with a special activity, innovate, create connections, to have an exchange of identity, personal development, community experiences you are coming from. I'm curious to know what are your perceptions on the idea of "being active"?


The session which was slightly controversial "ways" to European Citizens being practical, it put in my arms a whole Pandora's box of questions and ideas. If the question "Where is Ukraine?", the answer was "near Russia", you can still imagine that citizens' perception of a part of Eastern Europe, not just the idea of European citizenship, but also those for active citizenship, European identity, European values, etc. is different in some points. I can say with confidence that the vast majority of young people in Western countries and some in Eastern Europe, have a way of understanding and alignment of meanings for these concepts, and in my opinion is a good thing. When you say that peace is a European value, you can not give them another interpretation (national) and you can not say you do not identify with it, because after all peace means peace. If there is no peace, then what other value can substitute her? One question that caught me offside after hearing some opinions of participants.

It's all coming around the following scheme of understanding: we have the ideas of "practical" and "European citizens". We must learn to understand their types and then define them like concepts. There are already ideas and definitions, ways of understanding, but how is it when you put on the table and the countries in the Caucasus, the Russian neighborhood?

The results that we got from the discussions were to practice the idea of European citizen, that a European Youth in Action program means first, Euroregions, direct democracy, community building, youth councils, using symbols, citizens' initiatives, etc.. There are many things to say concerning this topic,  and I intend that in the near future to answer a series of statements / questions that appear to be controversial, but I am convinced that they need new ideas in line with our everyday experiences, to be understood, accepted and, why not, integrated. Here's one of those statements: "Western Europe has a lot to learn from Eastern Europe."

I can say that the experience I had across River Prut, had put me in the palm of the hard work of social realities that we share today, not only in Western Europe (if I may say so), but also in South-East Europe, Caucasus, Turkey and so on.  If we have a contribution to young people however, it is only when we become aware of them and we are active, and the meaning of "be active" I have already explained a little higher. Until then I leave you in the company of Huxley and Orwell's texts.

Author: Dragoș-Andrei Preutescu
This text was translated by Corina Cioruță.

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