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Make a change! European Youth in Dialogue

Seminar for young people in Germany

Monday, 9. September 2013

Building trust across cultural boundaries:  Youth Seminar in Gantikow/Germany

How can we build trust - within ourselves, within our society, in our country and across all boundaries?

From 18-25 August, we organized a youth seminar on the theme 'Building trust across cultural boundaries. Thirty young people from nine different nationalities were invited to Gantikow in Brandenburg/Germany on a spiritual journey to explore these questions.

For the past three years, the NGOs 'Initiative Mittel- und Osteuropa' (InMOE/Initiatives Central and Eastern Europe) and Foundations for Freedom (F4F) have hosted seminars for young people. For the first time, this year's training programme was co-organized by InMOE, F4F and Initiatives of Change Germany.

The theme of the seminar was trustbuilding as a means for people to initiate change within society, starting with themselves. The term 'trustbuilding' evokes terms like relationships or family, something exclusive and very abstract. In reality trust is an important basis, reaching into each corner of our lives - how to appreciate and deal with colleagues at work, how to have trust in oneself and how to have the sort of trust that changes the course of history. Without trust, for example, the European Union would be different from what it is today. And yet a global, profound trust depends on the initiatives and humanity of individual people.

For an entire week, the 30 participants had the possibility of discovering trust in all its diversity. They not only discovered and explored theories on dialogue forms and discussion, conflict resolution, group dynamics and commitment in civil society, they also practised esteem, compassion, tolerance, attentive listening, honest conversations and an active confrontation with values. Through art, the participants learned to take a deeper look at themselves in order to reflect on their lives and the group. The sharing of personal stories and a time of quiet were - very much like in previous years - an important part of the course.

In spite of all the exercises, the painting, model making and all the theoretical input we tried to organize the week less as a strict programme that had to be followed than as an experiment. The participants had the possibility to become part of the process. We as the organising team (Robert Werner and Anne Esswein of Initiative Mittel und Osteuropa/Eva Neidlinger, Angela Starovoytova, Anna Pozogina and Anna Bondarenko of IofC and Foundations for Freedom) only delivered the impulse and the framework which gave the participants the chance to practise and build trust within a safe group constellation and across cultural and geographical boundaries. 'I realized that I have to start with myself', said Ivan Kitooke from Uganda at the end of the seminar. 'You've given me the roadmap to start.'

Report: Anne Esswein