Volunteering for Peace

We hope that, once the seminar is over, all participants will be able to use new frameworks of skills and prepare new volunteering activities and programmes to promote peace and human rights, to fight against discrimination and build non-violent narratives that we see in society.

The reason why we’re organizing this seminar and others is simple: to create spaces for reflexion, interaction and learning from sharing experiences and knowledge among a small group of 19 people, professionals from the non-profit sector that work with youths in Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, FYROM, Estonia, Latvia, Italy and Portugal. We will work with a long list of skills that we believe are essential in the non-profit sector, as these are skills and attitudes that can help us to reach our goals and outcomes at work.

First and foremost, this means we must understand that skills and attitudes (as well as interests and experience) are key sources of knowledge, that we must use every day and that we can improve or think about in a more or less organized way and duration.

The activity will serve the purpose of getting to know methods and tools that can help us to establish, enhance, consolidate and better understand a set of skills for peace building, and put them in relation with our responsibilities in a non-profit and non-governmental organization working with many other people, especially youths, to achieve social goals. We will reflect on skills that are not included in barely any school curriculum and we will learn self-assessment and follow-up methods to take on responsibility in the implementation of new training and certification systems for these skills, focusing on youths who are volunteering in these organizations, their colleagues, and the beneficiaries of their services; while encouraging them to learn new skills to manage volunteering and to carry out new actions and initiatives with a broader social impact.

The 13 participating organizations, with three exceptions, are not engaged in peace-building activities or, if they are, they don’t mention it specifically or are unaware that they do. Nevertheless, they have decided to take part in this seminar because they wish to explore new concepts and methodologies in educating for peace, maybe because a growing number of the organizations they collaborate with are talking about these questions. Thanks to their partners, including the FCV they decided to join the activity and take some time and resources to improve their skills and attitudes, even when talking about peace isn’t something everyone likes; and this precisely is one of the challenges for this seminar. Making peace, building peace, promoting peace, is a challenge that may seem overambitious, too difficult or unrealistic for many volunteering and youth organizations; perhaps this is because they ignore to what extent it is related to and interconnected with their mission and work methodology, or with the everyday difficulties that an organization comes up against, just as any group of people.

We hope that, once the seminar is over, all participants will be able to use new frameworks of skills and prepare new volunteering activities and programmes to promote peace and human rights, to fight against discrimination and build non-violent narratives that we see in society, and that they disseminate the 5 skills we will be focusing on, developing and certifying during the seminar: critical thinking, giving and receiving feedback, non-violent communication, active listening and conflict management.

Choosing what skills to focus on hasn’t been an easy task. The election was done taking into account not only the difficult current context in Europe and the training needs in the non-profit sector, but also the educational needs in a society that is helpless and the victim of an educational system that comes with a content and methodology proposal that fails to prepare whole generations  of youths with such basic skills as thinking, solving problems, teamwork, creativity and initiative, conflict management, etc. 

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