Friction produces energy27.09.2019 - 18:03 | Simon Roth
The focus falls on peace, but still there is friction: when young people take part in a discussion at the European Youth Forum Trogen, things can get noisy. Swiss high school student Lea was present this year when more than 140 youths from nine nations discussed the future of Europe. She learned a lot during this week, in part also thanks to the intense discussions.
The first conflict was not long in showing itself. During the Eurotopia workshop, participants used crayons to draw the outlines of Europe on the floor – without anything they could use for tracing. The youths were expected to combine their knowledge from nine different countries. And this is where their worlds collided. Each of them had a different concept of Europe.
For Lea, this exercise broke fresh ground. She can’t understand how people can lock horns about national borders. "I prefer harmony," she says. But the exercise served its purpose. It purposely provoked conflict and the exercise triggered a discussion. The youths exchanged arguments in order to find a common solution.
The process of aligning their ideas led to friction, which produced energy – energy destined to inspire many visions during this week. Also for Lea. She decided to send out better vibes into the world in future. And this was the exact purpose of the Eurotopia workshop: together, the youths developed visions and concepts for helping to shape the future of Europe.
Fun and seriousness aren’t mutually exclusive
The next day, the participants split up into different groups to develop their own Eurotopias. There was a long table in the centre of the room. On the table were scissors, pencils, magazines. The youths drew, painted and wrote their visions on the walls of the room. Lea moved from one group to the next. She focused on the others, listened to them and made them laugh. Many participants showed her the outcome of their work and asked for her opinion.
“I tried to engage the more reserved participants,” says the 21-year-old. A task during which Lea had to bridle her own personality, as she explains. She confesses that she likes to be centre stage. But listening brings her much insight. Every person has different needs that have to be addressed individually. She learned how she can empower people with different personalities to stand up for themselves and for others. Lea is a sociable person with a good heart, says Louise from Latvia. The 16-yearold can laugh with her about everything. She particularly appreciated that Lea is a good listener who is interested in the problems of other people.
«The EYFT is a mix of a cosy gettogether and serious conversations»Lea – Swiss high school student
Lea believes in the EYFT concept: “It’s a mix of a cosy get-together and serious conversations.” And there was no lack of the latter during this week. The over 140 youths split into six groups to work on different topics. These included democracy, identity, discrimination, gender roles, integration and borders.
Nobody must be excluded
Unlike many of the participants, this was not the first time that Lea spent a week in the company of a group. She was a leader in the Blauring youth organisation. It’s important to Lea that the youths take care of each other. “My motto is: nobody must be excluded.”
«My motto is: nobody must be excluded.”»Lea – Swiss high school student
The experiences gathered by the youths and young adults in Trogen during the EYFT will leave their mark. Each and every one of them will decide for themselves what they take home for the rest of their lives. The time at the Children’s Village was meant to give them food for thought. “The youths from Europe meet at the Children’s Village to engage in a direct exchange with others. This gives them the opportunity to see their problems and challenges from a different perspective,” says Adrian Strazza, EYFT Project Manager. This is a way of generating new solutions. The young people returned to their schools, emboldened to tackle problems and to take action. “With their input, they can help to make the world a better place,” says Strazza.
Lea learned a lot about herself and others at the EYFT. She dissected her own attitude and developed a more positive outlook. People focus on problems far too often. This makes them feel powerless. At the Pestalozzi Children’s Village, young adults learn to approach problems from a different direction in order to find their own solutions. This creates self-confidence.
This meeting of youths from nine nations in Trogen is a unique opportunity for the participants. “This format makes it possible to break down prejudice and to question stereotypical thinking,” says Lea. But this insight can only be gained through the considerate resolution of conflicts. During this process, the youths learn to express their needs and to develop empathy for others. It empowers them to approach one another as equals and to join forces to find solutions for the challenges facing their generation.