What happens when you combine the talents of a soft-spoken teacher from Morocco, an experienced and incredibly knowledgeable activist from Romania, a sharp and witty young project coordinator and a fiercely passionate communications manager from Cyprus? The Youth Ambassadorship project is finally on the go – and the characteristically diverse team, got tight and productive in a tiny little village in Transylvania this month, to get the ball rolling. Find out what Kristy Eliades had to say about this exciting new project that was sparked at last year’s Power of One Conference (hosted by Peace-it-Together and supported by UNDP-ACT).
“I looked around the room, slightly hurt that I’d just been told that the term ‘youth’ does not actually apply to thirty-something year olds, no matter how young at heart they felt. Katerina laughed so I asked how old she was. She is 24. I nearly fell off my chair.
The mission was relatively simple – create a training manual for Youth Ambassadors to instigate cross-cultural dialogues in their region. The partners (NGO-Support Centre, Resurse Service, Youth Power, Forum De La Citoyennete and Kontea Heritage Foundation) would be nominating young people from Morocco, Romania and Cyprus to become Ambassadors whose role would be to mediate debates and group conversations in an effort to enhance understanding across cultures, challenge stereotypes, and reduce prejudice and xenophobia.
I very quickly realised that the team of partners could not be more diverse in character, appearance and working methods. ‘How brilliant,’ I thought, ‘all the best things come from teams with powerfully individual members – this is going to be great’. And it was.
The team became close very quickly, bound by the urge to get the job done effectively in order to create as much impact as possible. Together, we outlined the manual structure, created terms of reference, branded the project, researched mediation techniques, customized them and started working on the content. After what seemed like hundreds of cups of coffee and flip chart sheets, we took a step back and looked at our work. It was good. Actually it was more than good. Everyone had their own individual expertise and had worked on specific components of the manual that were most suited to them based on both experience and passion. For the short amount of time we had spent together, the four of us had done an amazing amount of work.
The trip was intense, but the long hours we all put in paid off. The project finally had a clear vision, character, image and a training manual that was very near completion. We rewarded ourselves with a half-day visit to Bran Castle (home to Vlad – the Impailer – Dracul – which of course meant Cosmin and I spent the day making ‘Mwahhhahaha’ sounds in every room) and got caught in an incredibly stubborn hailstorm. Thankfully, by then the team was close enough to actually enjoy getting soaking wet in an unknown medieval setting and we made the most of it – Khadija and Katerina did some light shopping while Cosmin and I continued making funny references to Dracula.
Only great things can come from a collaboration like that, so keep your eyes and ears open for much, much more. To catch up on what we are doing and keep yourself updated, please visit (and like) our newly launched facebook page.”