Category Archives: Reflections

The ocean of interests

„Not long ago I read through an African cookbook, when it suddenly struck me that this was the first text that was completely neutral towards Africa.“ With this and other statements 20 year old Katri from Finland elaborates on her interest in intercultural relations, reducing conflict and prejudice in society. How do cultures work and how are prejudices produced in the mind? Why do we behave the way we do and how is cultural knowledge acquired? Social psychology, which Katri studied for a semester in the University of Helsinki, provides her with answers that she aims to deepen with observations in everyday life.

In addition, Katri is a passionate listener of the very many individual stories from all the people she has met along the way, like during this UPF Program when she interviewed Maltese citizens about immigration. Also back home in Helsinki she takes great interest in working with immigrants and refugees, while being well aware that English – despite being the lingua franca of nowadays – has certain limitations. This is one of the reasons why Katri aims to learn as many languages as possible. Ever since she did some voluntary work and travelled in India, she started learning Hindi, while Arabic and Spanish are yet on the list.

Maybe Katri’s curiosity in so many topics and fields started at a very early age when she used to ask her parents, who are both scientists, why and how exactly things happen the way they do? Or maybe her open-minded attitude that every single conversation can have a huge impact in one’s life, as long as one sees the opportunities and dares to take them, always lead her towards new roads and interests. One thing is certain, however: no matter where Katri’s path will take her, she will keep on exploring the ocean of opportunities, an open space that is longing to be further explored.

by Alma

Hope is not an option for Jerusalem

written by Ala based on an interview with Alon

Born and raised in Jerusalem for eighteen years, today Alon is leaving “Kids for Peace” the organization that he joined five years ago, to join the Israeli military service. And for eighteen years he’s been familiar with the conflict that started in 1948 fifty years before he was born.

A Conflict of land more than a conflict of three different religions I’d say, yet I do not understand how far can they be apart? when they come from the same source and in details they are very much alike.

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Actions speak louder than words they say, and I believe it is the same for this city. Ignorance on the other hand is the real enemy we are facing, educating ourselves about the other side and the will to compromise is what makes us find common ground and true Peace.

In his back pack Alon does not only carry his clothes but also strong believes and values that he got from a family that values justice and equality. Alon believes in Israel, however he also believes in standing against carrying military orders that violates human rights of the Palestinian people.

The five years that Alon has been with “Kids for Peace” has introduced him to the Palestinian point of view and a wider vision of the situation as a whole.

Therefore hope is not an option in Jerusalem but actions are. Just like Alon believes, we all need to start taking actions, to start understanding the other, to start making compromises that are just for both sides, to see beyond religion, race and language and to see each other for who we are “Humans”, that are capable of loving, of working with each other and most of all of living with each other in a mutual respect. To see each other as humans not as enemies, to understand that religion is a way of life not a reason to hate and kill.

ala photo 2

When Palestinians and Israelis are nothing but humans

written by Najla

When Palestinian and Israeli are nothing but humans!

When we hear the names Israel or Palestine, the first thing that comes to mind is the conflict these two states are suffering from. One land is being divided into two states where people are discriminated based on the part of land they end up in. If you live in the south, north or east of this land, then you will be an Israeli, while if you live in the west or middle of this land you will be called Palestinian. These Two nations had been fighting for a very long time each claiming that this piece of land is theirs.

Throughout years of endless wars, people from both sides started to realize that their problems will never be solved unless a CHANGE is made, and from this point of view, peace movements of both sides started to arise. Kids for peace organization is one of many organization who followed this vision of living in peace with the other side and as peace seeker I joined them in 2012.

As a Palestinian, I always knew how kind and generous the Palestinians are. I know how much they suffer from the violent actions of the Israelis. I have my own personal stories as I almost got shot twice and suffer through the check points everyday . However, I never got the chance to = hear their side of the story from an Israeli until I met Nitzan.

Nitzan is a 17 years old Israeli girl whose father had survived a bus explosion in Jerusalem several years ago caused  by a Palestinian man who bombed himself in the bus claiming that what he did is a reaction to the Israeli acts against the Palestinians. Nitzan’s story was as sad as the stories of the Palestinians. Thanks god her father survived but there were many victims on that bus who died or suffered from serious injuries.

Despite this tragedy that Nitzan had to go through, she didn’t allow hatred to blind her eyes and heart  so she decided to seek the opposite path. She joined kids for peace to help in creating peace with the Palestinians. And there is where I met this beautiful girl and got to know her more when we traveled together to join UPF project for creating change 2013.

During this experience, Nitzan  And I talked a lot about the situation. We explained each other’s point of view about the current conflict and shared personal stories. We became friends then sisters. Honestly I never thought I will meet an Israeli with great personality and joyful spirit.

“IF YOU GO WITH THE FLOW, GOOD THINGS WILL HAPPEN”

480658_10152002469407392_1971220657_n“If you go with the flow, good things will happen”, a statement that sums up a lot of the journey’s that Tom has been on in the past years, and that ultimately resulted in his coming to Malta. It is also this openness to travel and explore the world, as well as an attention to people and their stories that led to Tom and Lukas starting Shabka.org. Shabka.org is a blog dedicated to building a network of people, challenging social structures and allowing people who are not heard in the media a voice. As such, when Lukas asked Tom to come with him to Malta, after Bogdan asked Lukas to come along as Shabka.org, the answer was “why not!”

Of course, things haven’t always gone to plan. One time, Tom was going to New Orleans to work on a personal photography project, and had to travel there from Canada. As it was super-expensive to fly from Canada to America, he decided to catch a coach from Canada to Pittsburgh and fly from there. However, the coach got cancelled without warning, leading him to stay with a friend for the night and to re-book the coach for the morning. The bus he booked for the morning however didn’t take him anywhere near to the airport, and by the time that they got to the bus station it was 12 PM. A sleepless two hours passed and then a guy approached him and asked for money for petrol. Thankfully though, the two struck a deal, Tom would give him money for petrol, and he would drive him to the airport. When Tom finally reached New Orleans, he was exhausted, a trip that should have taken less than a day took two, and without sleeping either. However, arriving in New Orleans he was greeted by a local who threw Mardi Gras beads around his neck and welcomed him warmly. He had also arrived with time enough to complete his assignment too, after worrying that he wouldn’t make it, he was back on schedule!

 

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“Things usually work out” he said, even the not so great experiences are funny to look back on, and make for amazing stories. It’s such a shame that this project was only for a week, otherwise I’m sure this blog post would turn into a book about being stung by jelly fish, cycling through countries, and our plan to save Koala’s, and who doesn’t want to hear about that?

It was so much fun talking to Tom, he has a million stories to tell and by this time next year, I’m sure he’ll have a million more.

 

 

Lauren Turner

Time-traveller!

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Everyone has a story to tell; whether it is about themselves, other people or objects that have had a deep influence in their lives or the surrounding environment.
I interviewed a young man from Austria, Lukas, 28, who also has a unique story. Lukas’ story tells about his dreams and the way he sees his life and the world through his choices and actions.
This young man who is, by all means, full of potential, has smart ideas, observations and desire to see positive change happening in communities and the entire global society in all its standpoints. He can be an example of this uprising generation who is willing and acting hard to make the world better place for everyone.

Lukas grew up in Austria, and as long as he remembers, politics and society issues have always found their ways to his thinking. In fact, later all these interests lead him to leave remarkable footprints in numerous working fields.
After Lukas received his Civil Engineering Certificate, he went to do military service. The training took him a couple of years, but in the meantime he headed to Australia and studied geo-science. After that he went back to Vienna and had academic training for Environmental Engineering and Development Studies.

Lukas’ curiosity and interest in knowing about global issues as well as having a positive influence on them, directed him to have a particular interest in the Middle East. Also for clarity he wanted to get rid of stereotypes and prejudices, and gain a good understanding of the region.

Lukas has been and still is involved in many projects. In the last years he worked for research projects, for instance, on Lebanese society, Syrian society and Syrian-Israeli conflict. He also worked in Palestine and was involved in humanitarian project in Libya. In addition to his interest in the Middle East, Lukas works for Austrian Ministry Of Defense as a conflict analyst, counseling, writing reports and monitoring conflicts.

Currently, Lukas’ focus is on Shabka, a newborn global network with a profound insight to contribute in political development. Shabka’s background is in in-depth analyses of specific key topics, which are critical research, development, peace and conflict research or environment and agriculture. And the aim is to provide students, young academics and journalists a space to publish their scientific papers and analyses.
Lukas and his enthusiastic co-workers are developing Shabka in a very collective sense, and Lukas believes that big achievements and change require collaboration.

Personally i was amazed by the fact that he had done all these 10 years, as it would’ve taken more years from most of the people. One could call him a time-traveller and a person who’s truly committed to what his has been doing.

By Angelina,

Proofreader: Katri

References:

Interview with Lukas
Shabka.org

In the ocean of opportunities

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Since childhood Alma has been creative and artistic, in addition to being very interested in the environment. These passions have shaped and developed with time, for instance, through travelling.

During a youth exchange in Mexico in 2007, Alma was invited to the home of a Mexican family for lunch. As it was Sunday, the housekeeper had a day off, and to Alma’s astonishment, the family refused to do the dishes by themselves, using only disposable cutlery. This repeated every time the housekeeper was not available and Alma, being environmentally conscious, found it very strange. Such consumption and ignorance towards the environment was visible in various aspects of life in Mexico, and was caused by the fact that people did not know the impact of their actions on nature.

Due to her interest in languages and travelling, Alma studied both English and Spanish, and in addition to that, is currently studying for a degree in Environmental Education. Alma finds that education is the key to peaceful and sustainable global society, and is also studying to be a teacher.  In addition to studying, this ambitious girl is working for an international organization called United for Education and Sustainable Futures (UESF), which provides education to people who otherwise would not have the access to it.

Even though Alma might seem to be sailing in the ocean of different opportunities, and her various interests are taking a great deal of her time and energy, she believes that they can somehow be connected. When it comes to environment versus languages and people, she remarks that ‘Environmental protection is also protection of people.’

Whether on the field of environmental issues or languages, I am certain that Alma will succeed in her ambitions, spreading knowledge and creating positive change in our increasingly global world.

By Katri

The story how Lauren ended up in Malta

PA230079This is Lauren. And this is the story of how she ended up at the Creating Change conference in Malta.

Lauren graduated in English Literature and Film Studies in London. She enjoyed the creative element of making short films, such as perspective, concept and the creativity lying behind visual arts. Like many art-related studies it was hard to get a decent job afterwards, especially in the rational meritocracy of modern society. After a joyful sunny summer in England Lauren started looking. However she ended up in a job she wasn’t passionate about with terrible working hours. And if that wasn´t enough, she lost this job after four months.

Time went by and money slipped through her fingers. After another four months of unemployment Lauren started at the Job Center doing “work experience”. This was basically an unpaid internship, that might be useful in getting experience, as the title suggests, but ultimately doesn´t pay the bills. But as unpredictable as life can be, Lauren met two guys there who had their own company. They run a media company and work within photography and film. As such, Lauren got an invitation to an event in the houses of parliament that happened to be organized by the UPF. There she met Christa, who is the Co-director at Youth UPF in London.

She invited her to the “CreatingChange2013” conference in Malta soon after. That is where Lauren is at the moment. She´s still working with the two guys she met at the Job Center in London, and doing lots of freelance media based things.

The bottom line is: All of this would not have happened if Lauren hadn´t lost her first job that was terrible anyway. Sometimes life can play quite cynical games, and in the end things can turn out completely different than one would expect. Things that seem quite negative at first glance can lead to fundamental change in life, if not for anything else, for this push out of the comfort zone, change is worth embracing.

by Tom