Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later]
What is IFS?
Background The first gathering of the IFS Youth Program took place in Berlin the week of September 12th, 2010 and was an excellent and inspirational event. Hosted by the Nachbarschaftszentrum Ufafabrik and the Federation of Social-Cultural Work, 90 participants from Canada, the USA, Germany, Latvia, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands and Great Britain shared their knowledge, experience, visions and dreams in three youth projects. Delegates were both young staff and youth participants from settlement houses. They worked together and improved their knowledge in different workshops, built an Herb Spiral in the Intercultural Generations Garden, formed a band of musicians in the music workshop and built a roof for the clay stove at the childrenâ€™s animal farm in the Ufafabrik. Other workshops taught the participants how to communicate in very large group settings. Site visits included a trip to Nachbarschaftsheim SchĂśneberg, city-tours, visits to the German Parliament and the Office of the European Union. The youth, defined as ages 18 to 25, all learned how important it is to work together on a common activity. Even with language barriers and cultural differences, there existed a commonality and mutual understanding.
The International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (IFS) is an association of national, regional and local organizations working to strengthen communities around the world. Its mission is to build an inclusive global community by empowering, inspiring and connecting people who are working locally for social justice. IFS members include multipurpose, community-based organizations all over the globe, from North America and Europe to South America and Asia. The organization has a long and active history as a network and as a promoter of the Settlement House movement since it was founded in Europe.
The financing for the European participants was obtained from the European Union through the project "Youth in Action". The project "Youth Diversity in Today's World" was financed by the German Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth. Participating organizations also contributed to the travel and other expenses of the young people they sent. The IFS Board and member organizations are committed to creating more opportunities for such youth exchanges in the future. The next opportunity will be in Stockholm, Sweden, in May 2012!
Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later] The Exchange Schedule The working groups at the conference were based on the needs of the participants, had a specific work topic, and consisted of professional team coaches and motivated young people. They were all a mixture of professionals, clients and volunteers. Every group worked three days in the morning, for a total of nine hours. Participants could choose one workshop theme for the week. Excursions and discussions were offered in the evenings. They covered a variety of themes and locations, offering theoretical and practical applications on topics including culture, social policy and history. A highlight of this section was visiting the German Parliament and having the opportunity to speak with delegates.
Workshop Highlights “The communication workshop was my favorite because it stressed, and emphasized the need for communication and depicted the different forms of communication which we can utilize.” – Amanda Johnson, University Settlement Staff, New York, NY, USA Dialogue: A Method for Working with Big Groups Participants in this workshop practiced skills such as deep listening and the ability to speak openly, with the main goal of giving participants ideas for how to improve the “culture of appreciation” in a group.
Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later] Herb Spiral Participants in this workshop spent valuable time outside building an herb spiral based off ideas from permaculture, which is a sustainable land use design. It is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies.
“Since returning to Vancouver, we have implemented five garden boxes at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House. Next summer, we plan to build an herb spiral with our youth programs.” - Tanya Findlater, Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House Staff, Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
Personal Narratives: As we are approaching the one-year anniversary of the Europe Believes in You(th)! Exchange, the IFS staff wanted to collect "Where are they now?" updates and personal stories from the young people who participated in the exchange. We were curious to find out what has happened for them in the past year, if they are still in touch and what the exchange means to them now. We spoke with Angel Sacarello, Sasha Medero, Amanda Johnson, Tina Stumpf and Christian Cabrera from University Settlement and The Door in New York as well as Tanya Findlater from Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to get their thoughts on the exchange. We welcome more updates from youth participants. Email email@example.com to tell us your thoughts and we’ll share them with the entire IFS network. 1.) Did you participate in all the workshops? Which one was your favorite and why? SM: I participated in mostly all of the workshops; my favorite workshop was doing the herb spiral that Henry Chief oversaw. It was my favorite workshop because it was very interactive and dealt with the outdoors. Most importantly, it was really the epitome of how we can all come together no matter how different people are or geographically where people are located. TF: I was responsible for facilitating the communication/teambuilding workshop. I applied a group development theory by Tuckman to the overall dynamics of working in groups and our experiences in the youth exchange program.
Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later] TS: I participated in the improv theater workshop. It was a great experience to create something original with people who aren’t from my country. They provided us with exercises that allowed us to bond with each other, and build a comfort level with each other that allowed us to execute whatever was thrown at us while we were performing. The instructors I had were so helpful, patient, and fun. I learned a lot about my ability on stage which has helped me with my current theater experiences. 2.) What was the biggest lesson/new idea that you took away from the exchange? AS: I think one of the biggest lessons I learned was to slow down. Being in Berlin was a total culture shock. I think because I was born and raised in New York, I have a somewhat uncontrollable need to keep moving and get as much done as fast as I can. If I’m not working, then I feel like I’m doing something wrong. Just seeing people in the streets taking their time, and the workshops and meal times we had in the program, showed me that you get more done when you take a minute to slow down and even stop. SM: The biggest lesson I took from the exchange besides being environmentally conscientious was most importantly, how to slow down and enjoy life, especially around people that I could learn so much from. Being a New Yorker we are always so fast paced. When I got to Berlin and was finally able to slow down I realized I was missing so much of the beauty in the world as well as myself. TS: While at the conference I felt like life was really happening to me instead of it happening around me. I was able to really digest every experience, and every person around me. CC: That we’re all the same, especially in dealing with resources and problems, I learned different solutions to these common problems. 3.) How have you implemented what you learned in Berlin into your daily life? AS: I think I take more time and try to examine things from all sides before I rush into them. The quality of things I accomplish has gone up. 4
Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later] CC: Programmatically I do think more about the participant experience, as opposed to just the fundersâ€™ expectations. TF: When I returned from Berlin, I biked more to work. The social planning there with the bike paths already built into the sidewalks inspired me! Since our trip, Vancouver has developed more bike paths, especially in the downtown corridor. TS: I try my hardest to maintain that mind frame I had while in Berlin. I took a lot of my experiences and exercises I learned there back to New York, and back to my program. I know that in Europe they definitely appreciate time more. New York is so fast-paced it is a day-to-day struggle sometimes to maintain that concept. But I try my hardest. SM: Berlin was like a glue to help me patch something together that I felt was missing. After Berlin, I decided to take more interest in myself.
4.) Are there any specific projects that you have started since returning from Berlin? AJ: Since returning from Berlin, I have started the Word a Day project in some of my classrooms. Children learn a word a day from seven different languages. Once they learn these words, they get to pick their favorite non-English language and make up sentences from this language. I have also started doing Pen Pal Projects within the classrooms to help children strengthen writing skills and written communication skills. SM: I have started my cooking program and my Girls Group which is similar to a rite of passage for female middle school students into womanhood. I am also trying to put something together where the students are doing outside community service activities such as fixing up gardens or being involved in the beautification in their neighborhood.
Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later] TS: I started school where I am studying art and theater education. The most important, and life changing project I am currently involved with is Play Tank through University Settlement. I had the amazing experience of working with eight other youth workers, and within eight weeks and a lot of exercises and confronting fears, we came up with an amazing original show, and we are going to be working towards another show later this year. I am very proud of this project, and I believe we could even take Play Tank to something like IFS and it would be a success.
AS: I also participated in The Play Tank. We use the arts to express ourselves and learn new ways of helping kids express themselves. We also help teach staff who work with youth to do the same. I have also started a video editing program at my particular site. It’s the first one we have ever had, and now our summer camp theme is based around it. It makes me very proud and excited that I get to teach youth and adults new skills. 5.) Has the exchange changed the way you view your future goals and the impact that you can have on others? AS: The experience didn’t change my goals but I feel like it strengthened my decision. I love working with kids, and having a chance to interact with so many people from around the world that have the same feelings made me feel empowered. We learned so many things from each other, and not just about working with youth. I got to experience a little bit of everyone’s culture and they got to experience mine. SM: The exchange didn’t change the way I viewed my future goals or the impact I can have on others, however it did motivate me to want to achieve my goals with more vigor than before. This exchange was a much needed reflection of the direction I want my life to go and if I am cut out for this type of work. This exchange validated that I can be successful. AJ: Well, now I think about the way that my goals can possibly help or affect my community in a broader sense. CC: It helped me see that the way we engage with young people is so critical. We have to approach it as a systemic issue not just a singular event. 6
Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later] TF: The exchange made me realize that work can be created in partnership with just about anyone you meet! I am excited to work closely on more projects with other staff under the umbrella of ANH (Association of Neighbourhood Houses of British Columbia). TS: It has definitely made me a more aware and imaginative individual. 6.) Do you keep in contact with the friends you made through the exchange? AS: I keep in contact with 21 of the participants, through Facebook, email and phone. Some of the participants have visited me in New York, and I have plans of going to see them in the next few months. TS: Itâ€™s great to know you have people all over the world who can relate to the experience you had, and it excites me to continue friendships with them, and hopefully see them in the future. TF: I have exchanged emails and photos with Christian Cabrera from The Door. I have also created new contacts with other staff from other neighborhood houses in Vancouver. 7.) If given the opportunity, would you participate in another exchange program? AJ: If an opportunity arose for me to participate in another exchange program, I would. It was a good learning experience for me. AS: I would love to participate in the program again. I took so much away from the opportunity. I learned new skills and made great friends and contacts around the world. There is definitely no other experience like it. TF: The experience was amazing; it would be wonderful to connect with the same people five to ten years from now by hosting a conference in another city. TS: If I was ever blessed enough again to have the opportunity to participate in another exchange program, I would drop everything and go. It was such an amazing experience, and I would love to take the things I have learned since then to another conference, and just be able to see other parts of the world. 7
Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later] Evaluations from Participants After the exchange, staff from Nachbarschaftszentrum Ufafabrik conducted a brief survey of all the participants.
How did you find the workshops?
How intensive was the contact with other participants?
Excellent Good Neutral Bad Worst
Amazing Good Neutral Rare Not at all 0
Did you learn more about other cultures during the project?
Did you learn something for your life and future work? Yes
12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 44
Europe Believes in You(th)! September 12-19, 2010 Berlin [One Year Later] Participant Breakdown
How Do You Identify Yourself? British Spanish Latvian Romanian Dutch American Latin American Asian American Canadian Puerto Rican Filipino Other
Recent Developments With the success of last year’s exchange in mind, the participating organizations are continually looking for new ways to connect their youth and staff with additional exchanges on the horizon. This month the Nachbarschaftszentrum Ufafabrik will host 30 youth workers and social workers from Sweden where they will have the chance to see the Youth Center Spirale where the Berlin Exchange was held last year. We’re excited to announce that youth participants from Latvia were inspired to organize the next Youth Meeting titled “Stand Up for Your Values” which is also taking place this month, and youth from Nachbarschaftszentrum Ufafabrik will be in attendance. Currently the Nachbarschaftszentrum Ufafabrik is housing musicians from the band “City of Glass” from Vancouver, who were recommended by Canadian participants in last year’s exchange. Finally, this past summer, The Door hosted Christel Schultz from Mäster Olofsgården and Ewa Melin Larsson from Fritidsforum for extended exchanges while they learned about The Door’s various programs for young people. In conjunction with the International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers’ upcoming conference hosted by Fritidsforum in May 2012, the Swedish settlement will have their annual youth festival of democracy titled “Life is a Party” with approximately 600 participants. Combined with the youth in attendance for the IFS Conference, “Democracy, Inclusion, Youth (DIY!)”, both events will draw a sizable crowd of enthusiastic young people ready to create new friendships and international connections.