“Lo que aprendí es que por más que tengamos distintos pensamientos o distintas formas de ver las cosas podemos llevarnos bien.
(English) What I learned is that no matter how different our thoughts are or different ways of seeing things, we can get along”
The purpose of the URI Virtual Youth Camp was to foster multicultural friendships between young people (aged 15-20) from different URI regions of the world. With 25 participants, and 6 young facilitators, representing 12 different countries and speaking across 4 different languages, it was a recipe for a wonderful multicultural exchange experience.
We chose the theme “We Imagine: Awakening for Peace” as an invitation for participants to connect and share with each other their experiences, learnings, and visions for building a world of peace through creativity and compassion. The intention was that the camp would be a fun, creative, and joyful space where we could put into practice the world of peace we imagine.
The Camp took place over three sessions of 2.5hrs each, where participants engaged in interactive games and activities relating to listening skills, unpacking stereotypes, and sharing inspiring stories of young people taking action for peace.
Day 1 focused on creating a welcoming environment and getting to know one another. Participants expressed their hopes and expectations for the programme and we discussed community guidelines for how we wanted to interact with each other. We then learn 7 key skills for active listening and had a chance to practice active listening in small groups, while sharing about our different religious, spiritual, and indigenous traditions and cultures.
Crossing Language Barriers
Communicating across different languages was a big learning through this camp experience. We were so grateful to have a team of 6 translators helping us translate between English, Spanish, Portuguese and Haitian Creole.
To begin with, it was a surprise for many of the participants that there would be so many different languages spoken. This required patience, careful listening, and an openness to allow everyone to express themselves in their chosen language.
By the end of the programme it was beautiful to see how we crossed these language barriers and were able to connect and understand one another. As one participant reflected after the programme:
“I was surprised that speaking different languages did not prevent us from communicating.”
Unpacking Stereotypes and Prejudice
Day 2 of the Camp programme focused on sharing more about our different regions and learning about what stereotypes exist and what we experience in our different contexts and cultures.
In groups, we prepared presentations about our regions to share with each other. This led to questions and new insights:
“I came to know about other countries that very few festivals are celebrated in their country and in India too many festivals are celebrated.”
“A participant talked about how they treated people who wore a typical Guatemala suit, judging without knowing their status or economic situation.”
“I learned that there are other cultures that are really having a bad time in the world and nobody is moving to remedy that.”
Imagining and Creating Peace in Action
The final session of the camp programme invited the group to create their vision of peace and pledge a commitment to this vision. We started by brainstorming what the word peace means to us, and how we experience it in our lives.
Participants were then invited to share stories of youth peacebuilders that inspire them. Many shared the work that they are already involved in with their local communities, working to build bridges between people of different backgrounds or cultures, and creating cultures of respect and social cohesion.
The Facilitation Team
We are so grateful to our awesome facilitators, who each come from a URI Cooperation Circle in Asia, Europe, and LA&C. This international team came together, with such care, enthusiasm, and creativity to design and deliver the camp programme.
Evelyn Odilia Palax Tuy - Descendientes de Guatemaya, Guatemala
Agustina Herrera - URI Staff, Argentina
Marvina Mansaku - Udhetim i Lire, Albania
Silvia Trifonova - Bridges CC, Bulgaria
Mannat Dhillion - Youth for Peace International, India
Haripriya Sini - Amar Jyoti CC, India
Overall, the experience allowed for friendships to form, and new insights gained about our experiences as young people in different parts of the world. Here are some participant comments on the experience:
“It was a wonderful program. I made new friends around the world. I also got to know their experiences and ideas.”
“Me gusto conocer personas de distintas partes del mundo,conocer cómo es su vida, sus pensamientos. Me sentí muy cómoda con todos.
(English) I liked meeting people from different parts of the world and knowing about their life, and their thoughts. I felt very comfortable with everyone.”
This initiative was a collaboration between the URI Asia, URI Europe, and URI Latin America & Caribbean regional teams, and we are so grateful to everyone involved for making it happen!