Seminar “Volunteering as a tool for peace work?

Date: 15.10. – 19.10.2018 Venue: Vienna, Austria Organizer: Grenzenlos Interkultureller Austausch

Involved Partners: LINK (Italy), Youth for understanding (Turkey), Antiigone (Greece), Compass (Hungary), UNITED for Intercultural Action Foundation (Hungary), The Starry Start of Talents Foundation (Bulgaria), AFSAI (Italy), Zavod ODTIZ (Slovenia), Continuous Action (Estonia), SCAMBIEUROPEI (Italy).

Aims and Objectives were:

  • To discover “What is peace?”
  • To Get inspired on how we can keep a peaceful society:
  • What can I do as an individual? What can youth organisations do?
  • To share best practices
  • To promote peace and fight hate speeches
  • To promote peace work within international volunteering projects
  • To have fruitful debates and learn about peace work among young people from all over Europe

For me personal – The peace is friendship. The extended hand in need. Peace is peace and hope for a more beautiful world – no malice, murders and crying mothers, fathers, children and brothers and sisters. Thanks to volunteering, people become friends and have friends around the world. (Statement participant)

“I have benefited from participating in this training course. I gained more information about peace and ways to make peace all over the world.”

“This course has been a baggage of experience.”

“I learned that you shouldn’t stop…, but you have to keep questioning yourself.”

“Inspiration, lots of knowledge, things I realized about myself, new cultures, new words and lots of friends, and experiences I will never forget.”

“Best way to belive in our own selves is to meet other people that believe we can change the world as well, thank you for making that happen.”

(Feedback participants)

Grenzenlos defined itselve as a peace organisation and is an official peace messenger through the network ICYE (www.icye.org). The Grenzenlos board of managers decided that the annual theme for 2018 is dedicated to “Peace Work”. We have started to question with our partners if the tools we use are still leading to our aim and are still appropriate and useful for today’s challenges of the youth and societies we work with.

The 5-day seminar was part of a bigger strategy on promoting peace and the contribution of volunteering to it. During the seminar important questions were raised, such as what peace in a personal and organisational perspective is, what is to be a volunteer in a personal and organisational perspective, which tools, methods, ideas, and processes do we use that can be considered peace-work, among others. These questions served as a baseline that will help the organisations to change, adapt or continue their activities in their own organisations.

Throughout the seminar we discovered that peace has many meanings, that is a local and particular understanding that evolves and adapts to different particularities of each individual, country, nation, etc.  Peace in this sense is not only the absence of war, but an imperfect concept that includes many aspects, from spiritual ones such as the experience of peace in daily life, moral ones such as the need of acting in accordance to the rules created, modern ones such as the search for understanding the relations among ourselves, and post-moderns ones such as the questioning of these different concepts.

Volunteering work is then a peace-work, in as much as it involves local practices aiming to transform the way we relate to each other, the quality of life, and even the politics from our countries and regions. Volunteering is an ongoing activity which need revision and constant change, peace-work serves as one of the values that will help transforming the quality and intensity of the volunteering-work. Apart from the conceptual gaining of the seminar, an intense networking served to connect different organisations, which look forward to working on peace topics. The whole group is willing to take part in the next training, and to bring the learning experiences combined with local methods to be share and further discussed.

Trainers and support team: Carlos Gauna (Grenzenlos), Marja Koren (Zavod ODTIZ), Elena Tanase (Grenzenlos), Alejandra Barrera (Grenzenlos), and Martin Rieger (Grenzenlos).

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