Category Archives: Session Reviews

Creating within the Open Space Technology

Since Thursday evening participants were given the chance to work with a method called Open Space Technology (see session summary of 24/10, 5-6:30pm) The entire Friday was dedicated to work in small groups on individual projects and to the preparations for the respective presentation.

The first group investigated the matter of Halal food in a Maltese butcher’s shop and a restaurant. Equipped with a camera the team set out to interview two of their employees questioning about issues, such as the special slaughter of the animals and the different ways of preparation. In conclusion, they observed an interest in the topic, but also a lack of knowledge that might cause misunderstandings about Halal food.

One member of the second group, which only consisted of two participants in total, had done some research on how the European economic crisis affected the Arab spring beforehand. Based on these findings they worked on a small survey, in which around 50 Maltese people had to choose one statement that was the most adequate in regards to the posed questions. “How do you think the crisis can impact your business?” was one of them, for example. Before displaying the result, however, the team gave a short introduction to the topic and the research. In order to compare the result with the opinions of the people present, they were asked the same questions. This resulted in a vivid discussion about the topic and the survey itself.

The objective of the third team was to deliver the contents that were covered earlier in the program to young people in Tunisia. In addition, these should be further enriched in order to start a youth Empowerment Program called Change Makers, which will be elaborated in cooperation with UPF, Haqi and the Unreal Academy. One of the main aims is that youngsters develop competences, such as Communication, Public Speaking, Problem Analysis, Project Management and Budgeting, Team Building and Leadership. Topics like Democracy, Environment and Ecology will also be covered during the 15 weeks long program. Within that time frame the participants will also be asked to work on individual projects, where mentoring will be provided by the organisers.

The last team named itself the Expression Movement Group (EMG) and ended the evening session with a short performance revolving around the topic “the expression of life”. Different creative elements, namely vocals, acting, poetry, dancing and painting were mingled and eventually resulted in a collaborative canvas painting, which will be exhibited in the art studio of one of the group members. The EMG decided to continue their art work in the near future, performances in different countries like Tunisia, the UK, Austria and Italy are planned.

The variety of topics certainly had one thing in common: all the group members were incredibly engaged in their projects, which will partly be continued and ideally create change in the long run.

By Alma and Roua

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A Colorful Creative Afternoon

By Paulo D’Alberti

At 15:00 of the second day we’ve held the first part of our Creative Afternoon. Here everyone was granted the possibility to present their group’s country, its issues, its contributions, and other. 4 countries were represented in this first part: Italy, the United Kingdom, Jerusalem (chosen as a common term for participants from both Israel and Palestine), and Malta.

Italy opened the presentation with a video showing images of the country at the sound of Bocelli’s song. The issue that Italian participants wanted to bring to the table was the one about immigration, how their country is in the frontline to solve this issue, especially as an African gateway to Europe. The presentation ended with a patriotic song O Bella Ciao, that reminded of the sacrifices that were made to form the modern nation.

Next in line was the United Kingdom. The representatives of the UK are a very diverse group, and this diversity echoed in their presentation. Starting with some rapping offered by Keldon, they certainly managed to raise the spirit. Following were a video of London, a movie trailer about Jane Eyre, talking about the story of an influential woman writer from a time when women weren’t allowed to write, and a presentation of UK as a centre of multiculturalism and diversity. To close, the group leader Christa presented Youth UPF, its members, the work they do, and left a video message for the youth, calling them to action because their time is now.

The third group were the representatives of Israel and Palestine, united under the term Jerusalem. Despite coming representing Kids 4 Peace, a group about bridging inter-religious diversities, it was hard for them to find a common ground about what to present. This common ground in the end was represented by food and K4P itself. After showing a video which introduced the idea and activities, every participant was asked to write a message that they could take back to Jerusalem.

Last but not least, the hosting nation of Malta. Opening with a reference to the International Leadership Conference which was held there a year ago and became the initial impulse to organize this exchange. They touched on the importance of blogging as a way to let people know about what is going on, and in relation to that, they brought on the table the issue of fishing. More concretely they showed a video which presented the central role that fishing plays for Malta, how it’s very helpful, but also the problems that are connected to overfishing, and catching fish before they fully grow, even more reducing the fish population.

Partner Interviews

With the 40 participants seated in a circle, Bogdan explained how to contribute to social change in our communities. Some of us are academic and factual while others are activists, artists, creative and such and we can use our skills in different ways to contribute. The initiative of this seminar was developed from the thought of bringing people from around the Mediterranean Sea, with its rich history, together. The aim is to leave Malta empowered and provided with the right tools to work in our own communities and create a change. This is our common goal. This should express itself in many ways. One of the ways was to conduct an interview with a partner from the participants. This was the task we were given a few days earlier and the aim was to get a mutual learning from each other, while telling each other our stories. The idea was to listen to the stories of the person next to us, in order to develop it and get to know more about the person based on our curiosity and their experience. After this short introduction we were given more the time to meet up and continue working with our partners on our interviews.

Aidan & Hakim

Open Space Technology

24/10/2013 17:00 h – 18:30 h

By Martina

The first afternoon session on Thursday was held by Rebecca with the title „Open Space Technology“. It aimed at finally leading us from theoretical inputs to actual actions to be taken within the next days.
Therefore, we were presented the Open Space Technology, a model that purposes the spreading of ideas for initiatives among attendees of any conference.  To get the most out of it for everyone, following principles have to be kept in mind:

  1.        Whoever comes are the right people.
  2.        Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  3.        When it starts is the right time.
  4.        When it’s over it is over.

This allows focusing on here and now, therefore pushing the project to greater success. In order to enable flexibility and fluctuation among the participants “The rule of 2 feet” was introduced, meaning everyone could switch between initiatives anytime one feels like doing so.

To proceed, ideas were gathered on a board, then shortly presented by the convenors, followed by short questions.
Suggestions ranging from establishing an online platform to track down human rights violations in Libya to inform people on Malta about ḥalāl food, research the connections between the Euro crisis and the Arab Spring, explore Symbols on Malta, write a musical piece promoting world peace, interview immigrants and Maltese about migration issues, establish a youth empowerment program, get creative in expressive arts, work within the concept of the “Theatre of the Oppressed” as well as layout a concept for sustainable conferences were brought up.

To get started, everyone gathered in groups according to the project they would like to join most and brainstorming began. We are now preparing for tomorrow to get a smooth start into the world of activism here on Malta.

By Martina

Beauty of cultures

22/10/2013 17:00 h – 18:30 h

By Amira
During Tuesday evening session, participants have learnt about countries culture of their colleagues . Some of these countries were Austria, Finland, and Egypt. The Austria team made the majority of us to realise the beauty of Austria, despite stereotyping. The Finland team shared interesting information on Finnish traditions. Although the main participants from Egypt team were unable to make it to Malta, the team was still able to produce a truly creative and powerful presentation.
The Austrian team successfully managed to make a very engaging presentation. Alma worn a beautiful tradition costume, which made a strong emphasise on the deep culture and history of which Austria holds. The team created an engaging session through encouraging  participants in the room to share personal thoughts on Austria. Some of the mentioned thoughts were ” Micka chocolate”, ” Flat lands” , “clean country” , “philosophers”, “Neutrality” and “red bull”. In addition to this, the team had a deep concern towards the issue of “racism” in the Austrian society. As young people, they believed that they were privileged to speak up and pin point such a critical issue, where possibly  the old Austrian generations might had found it difficult to speak freely about.
Finland is rich in natural resources and traditions. According to Angelina and Katri, water and forest are considered one of the most important resources of the country. Interestingly, Finland has around 187,888 lakes. The team also talked about a distinctive tradition known as Sauna. Sauna is a bathing tradition where a bather gets subjected to hot steam using birch twigs.
 Although the main participants from Egypt team were unable to make it to the exchange, the team was still able to produce a creative presentation. Kops is a young talented Egyptian artist who dedicated his work on expressing emotions through art. Throughout the session, Kops emphasised the importance of “love”. He came up with a new concept. He named it as “Ministry of Love” . According to Kops, the idea of having a ministry JUST for “love” could possibly have a positive impact on a society.
Overall, the atmosphere was energetic and activities were very enjoyable.

Blog Your Story

21/10/2013 17:00 h – 18:30 h

By Asmaa and Christopher

Hakim Salem, who is representing Finland on this seminar, gave a presentation about how to write an effective story or article on a blog. We were presented with useful tools and effective methods to writing a good story. The main goal is to attract more and more readers, without tricking them into reading based on false keywords. To do so you need up to five keywords related to the subject, a good title – which is very important, then implement keywords into your title, and a short story that will keep the readers attentive. Hakim gave us examples based on Egypt, as if writing a story based on related keywords about the Egyptian social situation. The keywords will help me to do research about the topic using for example the internet. The first things that come to mind when you think of Egypt is for example; Pyramids and the Sphinx. These words can be used as tags or keywords later on in the blog to attract more readers who are searching about it. He also introduced a different example. Most importantly, writing is a process. It takes time and good research to be able to write creatively. One needs to remember to be realistic and simplistic. Do not provide unnecessary facts or information. Take the reader to be knowledgeable enough about the subject to have interest in reading your article. Search engines and books are a good source of information to inspire your writing or imagination. Use the internet to tell YOUR story, write about yourself and be creative. In the end of his presentation he gave the participants a task. We were asked to pair up, and interview each other about a topic of interest to us or in relation to the seminar, and to write up a story ourselves. The person with the best written story will receive acknowledgement and a prize.

 

Greeting me with my name

21/10/2013 09:00 h – 10:30 h

By Najla and Lauren

Situated in the Athena conference room, in a hotel overlooking the sea, stood youth members of peace organisations from all over the world. It was a bit overwhelming at first, all the new names and faces, but after a few ice breakers, we we’re able to discuss world issues more deeply and to explore more about why we are here.

The morning session opened with multiple ice-breakers. Remembering people’s names is never easy, especially when you have a to stand in a circle and assign an action to your name. It’s sink or swim; (thank-you Keldon and Roua!), but thankfully we made it through, with claps, jumps and jumping jacks galore. We might not have remembered everyone’s names at this point, but it certainly broke the ice and gave us energy for the next game, which involved half of us going shoeless.

With one shoe in the middle, half of us had to wait for a member of the second group to find us and reunite us with our beloved shoe! Once found, our partner (Hey, Kris!) asked us a couple of questions.
A. What is your name?
B. What is your shoe size?
And C. What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
Of course, I’d already thought about this to great length, and so replied with my plan to sneak to Australia without paying (sorry mum!), it was a great idea in my head…. Until I realised I’d be invisible and people might accidentally sit on me. This definitely needs more thought!

Next up was human bingo. This was a great way to go around and talk to different people about aspects of their life, like, not drinking coffee (it’s not that weird is it?), and getting confused about if Jerusalem or Malta was actually the land of honey! It was a great way to get to know things about people, and learn some new facts about each others countries. It was extremely enjoyable, even if I did sign the ‘My country is famed for being obsessed with tea’ box multiple times!

Finally, we mixed up our names in the most polite way ever, through handshakes and how-do-you-do’s! At first we introduced ourselves, then we introduced ourselves and took the other persons name, introducing ourselves as them, and finally we had to go find our name! I still haven’t found mine, so if anybody finds it, I’d be very grateful 😉

Ultimately, this session was a great way to open dialogue between all participants and help us to feel comfortable opening up to each other. It’s great to meet so many people from all areas of the world and to hear their stories, even if that story begins with “what would you do if you were invisible for a day?