Reporting our Reflections

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REPORTING OUR REFLECTIONS Recrear International - 2014 - 2015


Research Just got Young


Welcome! In 2010, 16 young people spent three weeks living in Berlin for Recrear.beta Recrear’s embryo was conceived. Five years later, Recrear constitutes a community of people committed to seeing the world differently, by experiencing reality through the eyes of other young people.

1. Welcome! 2. Nice to meet you! -Our vision -Mission -How we work 3. What do we mean by ‘Research’?

Over the following pages, you’ll read about our achievements and reflections during the course of 2014-15. With this report we want to tell you about how we see the world, what we have been up to lately, and our vision and plans for the future. Happy reading! Jonas, Gioel, Kirsten and Laura

4. Organizational Structure and Governance -Organizational Development Team -Research Team -Community Engagement

5. 2014-15 Updates by Team 5.1. Membership program: 5.2. RecrearMagnify 5.3. Research Team 5.4. Youth-Led Research Training 5.5. Core research teams 5.6. Development of Research Techniques 5.7. Research projects 5.8. Organizational Development Team 6. Moving forward: Our 2016 - 2018 Plan 7. Our 2016 Journey 8. Organizations that inspired us

Nice to meet you! Recrear is a Canadian charity composed of a network of young professionals from around the world. By designing and implementing participatory, actionoriented youth led research projects, we work to create a space for young people to use their imagination and energy to transform their communities.

Our vision Recrear envisions an intercultural world where young people are connected to their local and global communities by proactively participating to create inspired dialogue and innovative projects.

Mission Recrear works to ensure that young people are actively involved in the transformation of their communities.

How we work We work in collaboration with other organizations, groups and young people to learn how transformation happens. We use creative, participatory techniques to research the experiences and perspectives of young people around the world, and support them to take action based on the findings. Every year, we organize a two week “intercultural jam” called RecrearMagnify (see p. 8 for more details).

What do we mean by “Research”? The idea behind Recrear is to provide time and space for young people to listen to each other, and be heard. We think this is important because we believe that ‘development’ is about deepening our connection with ourselves, each other, and the world around us. Development projects are often about ‘outcomes’. We are not rushing to ‘fix the world’ – instead, we create space to listen to diverse stories and experiences. We believe there is lots of wisdom within us and that a deeper sense of community enriches our experience. To build community, we need to first of all enlarge the collective space to feel, listen and be with each other differently. We work with creative techniques because creativity is magical. We want to spark magic between people so that their connections can deepen. By collectively understanding young people’s experiences and perspectives, we also hope to be able to shape alternative processes. We offer something different from the usual ‘need assessment’ or evaluation in the sense that we dig much deeper into young people’s hearts.

We see ‘research’ as the process of learning about young people, with young people. There is no ‘researcher’ and ‘researched’: we create processes where research is carried out in communion, and all participants are responsible for defining the ‘results’ of the research. Our work creates a space for young people to reflect on their experiences, and on their role in the community. Gioel Gioacchino Director, Research Team

Organizational Structure and Governance Recrear’s staff are organized in three teams: the Organizational Development Team, the Research Team, and the Community Engagement Team. Teams are made up of volunteers and support the strategic intent set out by the Board. Each team is directed by a Recrear staff member.

Organizational Development Team:

This team holds Recrear’s main administrative and organizational development functions, including grant writing, fundraising, human resources, strategic planning, partnership development, financial management, marketing, and website maintenance.

Research Team:

This is Recrear’s right brain. This team holds Recrear’s research vision, and is in charge of developing and delivering our methodologies, projects, and training curriculum. The team is also tasked with publishing insights from Recrear’s work through reports, blog entries, infographics, and photo essays.

Community Engagement:

This team brings together and energizes Recrear’s community. Its main tasks include recruiting members, running the membership program, organizing RecrearMagnify (our annual conference), and managing our social media accounts.

Recrear’s Board of Directors Recrear’s Board of Directors steers the organization towards the achievement of its vision and mission. The role of Board Members is to provide strategic intent, fiduciary duty, support and accountability to Recrear in this regard. Composed of at least 50% members under the age of 30, the Board aims to find a balance between representing the interests of young people and Recrear’s main stakeholders, and ensuring sustainable management for the organization.

Board of Directors Laura Rana - Chair Valerie Colas - Treasurer Akash Ghai - Organizational and Business Development Expert Jonathan Sas - PR and Communications Expert Liam O’Doherty - Partnership and Development Expert (Canada) Yolanda Elizondo - Membership Representative Valeria Pini - Membership Representative Vacant - Partnership and Development Expert (Global) - Apply here

Organization Executive Director of Organizational Development - Jonas Kaspersen Director of Research - Gioel Gioacchino Director of Community Engagement - Kirsten Williams

The Directors of the three teams work together to coordinate and take day-to-day decisions with regards to the organization.

Learn more about Recrear’s structure

2014-15 Updates by Team

2014-15 Snapshot : 48 blog entries published (click on images to see the entry)

Community Engagement Team Membership program: Our organization is constantly reinvigorated by a network of incredible people. The membership program provides our members with opportunities to get energized by and contribute to Recrear. We want to share our collective knowledge and ideas in order to grow together, while enriching our vision and community. The membership program represents Recrear’s commitment to developing our members personally and professionally by offering a number of online activities. These currently include training webinars on a number of different topics related to the field of youth engagement and international development. We pull from a network of experienced advisors and our own talented volunteer staff to offer these sessions. Recrear also offers SHOUT: Recrear’s Member Newsletter giving members a monthly insight into what is going on within the organization and the wider sector. The newsletter includes a written piece by a member, an ‘Opportunities’ section, a ‘Member Shout out’ and announcements of upcoming events.

Meet a buddy pair In 2015 we had 2,031 views and 1,174 visitors to our blog Recrear in the Field

Akash Hosted 5 training webinars 16 members that have taken on volunteer staff positions; Meet some of them here:

Valeria Pini ­ Membership Program Manager Why I wanted to get involved with Recrear as a staff member by Yolando Elizondo: “I was quickly inspired by Recrear and wanted to take on a more engaged role in the community. Being able to work with inspiring people from all over the world and stop being passive towards my environment: for me this was an opportunity to take responsibility for my ­and OUR) future. We can’t judge if we are not willing to make a difference.”

Yolanda Elizondo ­ Social Media Manager “During my brief but intense time with Recrear, I have learnt that my days can have 27 hours. I’ve learned that I am happy to share my time and invest it in worthwhile projects. I’ve learned that alone I am strong but with the help of others I am indestructible. I’ve learned that “knowing” someone isn’t as important as relying on someone. And that both do not depend on one another.”

“Jonas is highly passionate about youth-development. He is foreseeing the organizational challenges such as implementing income-generating activities without compromising with the organisations values and is open to exploring new solutions to address them. Working with Jonas allows me to use my strategic oversight to help him address said challenges. We to turn solutions agreed into actionable tasks which makes it easy for us to execute them!”

Jonas “It is great to have a proactive person as Akash as a guidance. Right away, I was convinced that buddying with Akash, would be a perfect fit for both the organisation and my own professional development, after some significant organisational changes. His knowledge and experience within NGO management and business development facilitates good ping-pong and brainstorm sessions, in which we solve problems and discuss the implementation of new initiatives. All this to improve and make the decision-making processes easier!”

Published 6 newsletters Launched a ‘buddy program’ to connect members from different teams to one another.

Recrear Magnify : RecrearMagnify brings together a shiny group of people from all over the world to live, work and learn together. Every year we host our annual conference in a different location around the world. The conference’s elements include: a personal development course, training on participatory research Recrear-style, sessions by guest speakers from our community, an introduction to Recrear’s work and, last but not least, all the fun of living together. Magnify provides a key moment to shape our organizational culture. We use the conference to discuss our work, train new members on our research methodology, and connect our work with that of other leading organizations. The essence of Magnify is the experience of creating community, and the power of working with like-minded individuals. So everything starts with a personal journey of transformation.

Ultimately, the point of the course is to have fun, become friends, and feel connected. This is particularly important because some of us will be working together remotely via emails, Skype, and other online communication. The personal development course sets the tone for what doing participatory research is all about. There is no formula, no right or wrong, and no exact procedure. Intuition plays a big role in research. We need to be alert and connected in order to interact with others in positive and transformational ways. The participatory research training provides an opportunity for knowledge sharing and lots of storytelling. It will be an open platform to share successes, failures, and lessons learned on doing youth-led research. To make our training more exciting, we invite a range of speakers from our community to talk about their work, and share with us how they use creativity to work with young people.

Recrear Magnify 2015: A thank you poem by Barnabas Magnify kicks off with a 3 day personal development course: The goal of kicking off the conference with a personal development course is to create a common ground, enabling Magnify participants to interact from a space of openness, depth, and creativity.

A thank you letter from Kirsten, Director of Community Engagement Dear Recreadores - Thank you! We had an important awakening this year. The realization was this: we have an awe-inspiring collection of movers and shakers that have joined Recrear since 2010, and yet we hadn’t actively thought about how to drive a stronger sense of community across cultures and time zones. Odd, no? We are forever eager to work on community development…..but how about our nurturing our own community first?

2014-15 Snapshot : Magnify 2014, Armenia Partnership with the Stepanavan Youth Center(SYC) Collaborated with +8 local organizations and speakers Attended by 14 participants from 7 countries Read more about Magnify 2014 here:

Magnify 2015, Montreal Partnership with the Jeanne Sauve Foundation Collaborated with +10 local organizations and speakers Attended by 16 participants from 8 countries Read more about Magnify 2015 here:

Magnify 2016 will be hosted in Medellin, Colombia, in partnership with EAFIT University.

It’s like one of those flight attendant announcements: ‘Help yourself first before attending to others’. Right then! So off we went, putting our creative brains together to mastermind the membership program and eventually give birth to the Community Engagement team. An internal evaluation and a wave of new members later, we are so ecstatic about being able to create more play and excitement at Recrear. Don’t get us wrong, we still have our scratch-our-head moments, and in the spirit of piloting new initiatives we inevitably end up ‘trial-and-error(ing)’ our way through. However the lessons have been powerful and have given us the insights we need to put out more meaningful content. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading editions of the SHOUT newsletter or attending our webinars. If you haven’t and want to start – look no further than your friendly local Facebook group: Recrear International Members. Lastly, no community love message can be complete without recognizing what a phenomenal tour de force our membership has been this year. We are blessed to have such a diverse set of characters in the organization – going out and sharing their ideas, art forms and reflections with the world. We have seen an increasing number of these members attend conferences, trainings and generally represent the organization in inspiring ways in their local and global communities. We are fiercely proud of you all and we hope to make Recrear a familiar and inviting space for you to plug into for support, ideas….. and heavy doses of love! Kirsten

Research Team


Overall, during 2014-15

Core research teams cultivate small working groups around specific areas of interest. These working groups are coordinated by a team leader and are composed of people who are passionate about the topic. Core research teams represent Recrear’s ‘go to’ experts on the specific area.

150+ young people directly engaged in our research projects 40+ young people undertook our participatory research training course Our work was represented in the following conferences: - The Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS) May 2014 - UNESCO Youth Engagement Expert Meeting - May 2014 - Commonwealth Expert Meeting on post MDG youth indicators - May 2014 - UNESCO Youth Forum - October 2015 - World Forum for Democracy - November 2015

YOUTH-LED RESEARCH TRAINING Recrear designs and delivers training courses on youth-led Participatory Action Research (PAR). Our flagship 15-hour course provides participants with the tools to design youth-led research projects. The training shares practical tools that participants can use directly in their work. The course is oriented towards action and reflection: participants will graduate the program being able to design and implement basic PAR research projects, and having had the opportunity to pilot their own mini-project. The objectives of the training course include: Introducing theories of action and creative research as tools for youth engagement Identifying the right questions, and designing research frameworks Training on using creative tools to make research fun and engaging Discussing how to make youth engagement in research a transformative experience Processing and sharing ‘data’. The training provides an opportunity for knowledge sharing and storytelling, as well as a platform to process successes, failures, and lessons learned.

Core research teams: Stay up-to-date with the latest debates in their area and share these with the wider Recrear network Come up with activities to engage the Recrear network on the subject Seek out grant and partnership opportunities within the area Design a participatory research curriculum for the area

2014-15 Snapshot: In 2015, we launched the Gender and Sexuality Team. The team is currently developing a research vision, and endorsing a non-binary view of gender- captured in this interactive poem. The team is led by Alice Howard and Alicia Wallace, who had the following to say about why they’re so excited about launching it: “I’m passionate about gender, and meaningfully including youth in conversations, program development, and solution building processes. Recrear is committed to the participatory processes and research that I believe show drive our work in development.” Alicia

The course envisions the creation of a Community of Practice (CoP) among participants. Throughout the five sessions, participants inspire each other, learn about practical tools, and think about their work differently.

2014-15 Snapshot: This year, we have delivered our training courses in Cuba, Armenia and Canada. In February 2016, we will be delivering our training at Universidad EAFIT in Medellin, Colombia. For a reflection on our research approach, read ‘Circular reflections’.

Development of Research Techniques In the last few years, we have carried out extensive desk research on participatory research. In the process, we have identified a lack of material targeted to young people aged 18-25. We have also been learning by doing: we have spent endless hours designing research frameworks, techniques and workshops, interacting formally and informally with a number of people and organizations doing incredible work around the world. By compiling, adapting and playing with creative techniques to carry out research with young people, we want to share tools with our network and profile the work of our partners and colleagues. We publish research techniques in order to: Systematize knowledge and experience on youth-specific participatory research; Provide youth-led and youth-serving organizations with practical guides on organizing participatory research workshop with young people; Engage a network of institutions practicing youth-led participatory research in co-creating our methodology, to build a community and share best practices; Advocate for more in depth needs assessment with young people. We hope to bring together these techniques in a publication, to support fostering of a network of people and organizations interested in promoting youth-led research. In doing so, we advocate that research can be a means to identify the needs of youth, create more spaces for authentic dialogue among young people, and promote meaningful exchanges between young people and institutions.

2014-15 Snapshot The Research Team is compiling research techniques. The first 10 research techniques will be published in January 2016.

When the project is approved, we design processes to answer the research question we have discussed with young people and partner organizations involved in the research. For example, if we are trying to find out how young people relate to bureaucracy, we might organize a theatre exercise for young people to act out how it feels to go pitch a project to the local authorities. No matter what the specific research questions might be, we design workshops that help us to first of all understand the more holistic experience of young people. We work closely with local researchers. Depending on the project, we might work with a team, or just one or two individuals. In any case, local researchers are part of the design of the process. They also help us select the workshop participants. Based on the community and research topic, we invite young people to our workshops, trying to create a group that is able to represent the community of young people we are working with.

2014-15 Snapshot Founded by the UN-Habitat Youth Urban Fund we designed a year long research project in Cuba on ‘Youth Knowledge in Action for Climate Change Adaptation’, which involved: Partnership with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network and CARE International in Cuba Training 10 local researchers Engaging 75 +young people Interviewing 30+ experts Here is a presentation of our findings.

Here are some samples:

Research projects We design research projects in close collaboration with partner organizations. For us, the research process is as important as the outcome. We start the design process by defining a research need/interest. We ask: what is the area that we are trying to research? Why? Who has interest in this research? We work with partners around the world so that our work can support sustainable processes. Once the need is clear, we start brainstorming. Our collaborative brainstormings culminate in a draft proposal that summarizes what we will do and how. The proposal spells out why we are doing the research, the budget, timeline, expected deliverables and all the fun stuff we need to clarify to get going.

Organizational Development Team

A letter from Jonas, Director of Organizational Development

I am in love with Recrear. I am in love with the culture, the co-living experiences, the people, the experiential learning that, since I joined the organisation one and a half years ago, has guided me through a personal transformation. A transformation no different from the one Recrear seeks to guide young people through in their communities. I just returned from Europe, where I represented Recrear at the World Forum for Democracy. I met 75 amazing young people from 57 countries, each with a powerful story. I heard about young people impacting global leaders, influencing them to adapt their otherwise formal discourses to a human level, and emphasizing the importance of informal learning and storytelling in education. All this reinforced my belief that the efforts of Recrear and other organisations to create safe spaces that allow young people to share their stories and have a constructive dialogue are essential in the development of today’s society. On my trip, I also met three Recrear members who I had previously only met on Skype. Recrear members who, each in their very unique way, reminded me why I am so passionate about this organisation. I am proud of being part of the Recrear community, where everyone accepts each other, takes care of each other, listens to each other, and not least, feels safe to express themselves freely, even though ideas and opinions may differ. Here, differences are the key to success, opposites complement each other and invented borders between genders and nations are seen as an opportunity to reimagine, not a limitation.

Under Recrear’s new organisational structure, the three directors collaborate closely, hold each other accountable and share responsibility in decision-making processes. Until now, the organisation was driven forward exclusively by volunteers and very dependent on the founders. Sharing decision-making responsibilities marks the first step towards a higher degree of involvement and sense of ownership among new Recreadores and a more sustainable organisation that will achieve greater impact. Volunteers will continue to play a very important role in the organisation, but will ultimately be supported by paid staff to ensure administrative functions are taken cared of and that the work carried out is always aligned with our vision and a long term strategic plan, a plan that involves: Diversifying revenue streams by introducing income-generating activities; Developing a well connected Board, advisors and staff through a focus on engagement strategies such as a buddy programme; Seeking more cross-sectoral partnerships in line with the belief that NGOs and for-profits should collaborate and learn from each other. All this happening while listening carefully to our members, involving as many people connected to the organisation as possible, and looking inwards to address our weaknesses. I hope that you have found this piece and the rest of this annual report inspiring and maybe even useful in finding your path in your organization and/or your wider life. We would absolutely love to hear from you whatever your thoughts may be and we highly recommend you to turn over to the last pages to check out our lessons learned as well as our upcoming activities. Jonas Director of Organizational Development

These are the same values that have allowed Recrear to take what I believe is a very big step forward during the last year. Founders Gioel and Kirsten have been willing to listen to new perspectives and be challenged on the way they imagined the development of the organisation. Newer members have been patient and willing to trust people they have never met in person...

What we have learned “We need less ineffective AID systems and more sustainable, life changing, mind altering true education for sustainable development. There is need for a different story of an army of youth rightly trained to lift the plight of a war ravaged land. This is real development; true education is the weapon for peace.” - ‘Quiet Insurgency: The Intrigue of Surprise’

“Having reflections, even existential ones, are necessary for anyone who wants to get into this messy world known as ‘development’” - SHOUT newsletter fifth edition

“What is the story behind our ‘development’? I hope our work at Recrear will contribute to enlarging the space for more transformational narratives to emerge”. - SHOUT third edition

“I have learned to understand myself thanks to the acceptance and tolerance I have towards others. I have also learned to say what I mean and choose my words wisely. I have learned to smile more widely, to think more deeply and to give myself entirely. I have learned I have changed and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I have learned the power of one, and the massive effect of the cooperation of all. To value what we have and to work for what we want.” - Recrear’s Social Media Manager, and co-Member Representative on the Board Yolanda Elizondo “Have patience with everything that remains unresolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for answers. They cannot be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way through the answers” - Recrear Member and psychology student Youmna Ben Maymoun

“‘Research’ is what we do to understand the world around us. It would be nice if we could understand reality once and for all. But we can’t, because it is fluid, constantly evolving and socially constructed. ‘Participatory research’ acknowledges that as we try to understand our world, we are changing it! We are both, researchers and a change makers!” - SHOUT first edition

“Our goal is to facilitate a space where everyone involved is able to reflect over their reality. That way we can collectively (and creatively!) build new visions.To us, research is constant experimentation, a transformative process”. - SHOUT first edition

Moving Forward: Our 2016-18 Plan Goal 1

Recrear’s youth-to-youth research methodology supports organizations’ program design and evaluation

Goal 2

We champion youth engagement and dialogue through our expanding international network

Goal 3

We ensure sustainability by harnessing diversified resources and talent

Our 2016 Journey Dive into some of our projects for 2016! RecrearMagnify training course in Colombia Participatory Research Training in Medellin, Colombia

Aims for 2016: Goal 1

Goal 2

Goal 3

1.1 Demonstrate research value and impact by publishing and circulating our methodologies and research findings to our expanding network.

2.1 Encourage critical reflection on youth-related issues through our membership program and social media presence,

3.1 Strengthen Recrear’s Board of Directors and pool of advisors and Recruit talented and engaged new members and provide more opportunities for them to contribute to our organizational development

1.2 Train at least 75 people in our methodology through RecrearMagnify and other training courses

2.2 Engage talented practitioners and deepen our research on youth issues through launching two core teams

3.2 Explore partnerships and auto-sustainable activities to diversify revenue streams to create a long term sustainable organisation

1.3 Share our research methodology with diverse networks through relevant conferences, blog entries and other forums

2.3 Publish quality content on youth engagement and community development issues through both our blog and on external platforms.

3.3 Apply for key grants and develop mechanisms to ensure continuous funding.

Implementation of strategy for Gender core research team Launch of Entrepreneurship Core Research Team Membership program with exciting webinars on topics such as Fundraising and new Research Techniques

Organizations that inspired us We find inspiration all around us. ‘Aha!’ moments following a conversation, a cool interaction with an organization at a conference event, or a chance meeting with a phenomenal community activist. The stories are all different but the central takeaway for us is – thank goodness there are so many other brilliant organizations and practitioners out there sharing the same spirit to play, innovate and experiment with how we go about community development. It makes the potential for learning and collaborating that much more exciting!

Thanks for reading! We would love to hear your thoughts!

Here are but a few of organizations that inspire us and why we think they’re so great. La Múcura – Using art to facilitate transformational conversations and action in communities across the South American continent - how cool! We’ve been closely watching their mobile adventures and we look forward to collaborating with them more actively this year Pro Naturaleza – A network of youth championing environmental education around Cuba. We came to know them more intimately while working in Cuba early this year and were blown away by their youth leaders. Universidad EAFIT - A university in Medellìn, Colombia striving to inspire, create and transform. They have become a close partner with their welcoming attitude and assistance in hosting our training course and helping ensure that our staff will settle in Medellìn. Jeanne Sauvé Foundation - As host for RecrearMagnify 2014 in Montreal, Canada and as a powerhouse for engaging, connecting and empowering young people, working with the Foundation was a brilliant experience for all Recrear members. Instituto Superior de Education Experiencial (ISEE) - An established organisation driven by young people, that does not compromise with its values when bringing the core of experiential education forward in Latin America. We, humbly, look forward to working closely with ISEE throughout 2016. Development Three - We admire their approach of facilitating dialogue, encouraging collaboration and promoting lesson learning to help development organisations become more transparent, effective and credible. We share values, but D3 has also become a key partner in our efforts moving towards becoming a more sustainable organisation.

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