“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

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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

The King of the Alphs

1392721_10200707980441470_622285749_nA very down to earth noble man with casual brown trousers, belt and simple shoes.  The King of the Alphs (meaning behind his name). It is not usual to be interviewed by a majesty but that was an experience I had on one of my journeys to Malta, when we were randomly placed at the same table for dinner. To my greatest joy,  by the typing mistake of Shabka – the presidential Crew overseeing the activities. So it happened we had the whole evening to ourselves as he waited for his conference to start. It was epic, I had so many questions which he kindly responded. In the short space of time, I heard of his travels from home country to many different countries, the Political Science studies in a catholic University in the American college. I was overwhelmed and like a little child hearing bed time stories of past emperors, I listened to his detailed description of each country, its cultures, the people there, everyone likes to travel and oh my!! It’s good to be able to travel but at the same time he expressed how important it is not to forget one’s own homeland.

I can change my shirt but not my skin that was a wow for me, his calm state and charismatic way of presenting his experiences; however he said, we are in a globalized world and as much as we are connected to everything that happens to another country, we shouldn’t forget where we come from came across as very patriotic but also clearly showed his new idea of creating a global-kinda-homeland.

When his entourage finally arrived, I saw his hands go to his knees and he bent forward to stand up, I knew this was probably it, I had enjoyed my time, I wasn’t going to ask more, but he moved, his hands to his face, touched his “cool-mafia look sunglasses” and waved adieu. I could have stayed the whole week listening to his stories, of his mixed origin, voyage, education, hopes and never get bored. It was the best unexpected surprise I had during this trip.

The very well versed man, made lots of jokes about his life, difficulties, experiences and enjoyed the creating change seminar, and now is in the process of making the country more open but also warm in accepting the new globalization.

For privacy reasons, his name has been protected.

By Christa

Journey to Liberation and to God

“I did not like to be silenced” says Auor while she reflects about how her journey to liberation has started. There were many practices and beliefs in society that Auor  just did not agree with. It were especially several oppressive and unjust mechanisms especially with regard to women that she was opposing to. She did not like the different treatment of women and men as well as the different roles assigned to both genders. Moreover, she felt a restriction of free expression and free questioning. She sees herself as an individual who likes to ask and ask and ask. However, her questions were often not welcomed, especially when they were perceived as challenging and in derogation from the culture’s norms. She belonged to those youths who were not ready to shut up in front of any oppressive or unjust act, be it in the family or generally in society. She was always longing for liberating herself from anything that did not convince her.

Auor’s questions never stopped and they wandered from one sphere to the other. Auor started to become more and more attracted to arts, literature and French philosophy. In her eyes philosophy was a revelation to her. Philosophy is what made her also question religion in general. This marks the beginning of her journey to God. She started to doubt religion and questions about life, meaning, death and existence occupied her for several years. Auor was going through sleepless nights looking for answers to her deep but yet essential questions. Her brain did not take a break, it was asking and asking and asking. Eventually, she ended up becoming an atheist for about a year. Even though Auor argues that this was the worst period of her life and that she was a very negative person during that time, she stresses that it was a crucial step in life that made her what she is now.

After her atheist path,  Auor felt an increasing strong belief in God that she describes primarily as an emotional rather than not rational conviction. Since that turn Auor has become a very spiritual person. Spirituality gained a very high importance in her life. Apart from meditation Auor feels strongly spiritual when listening to music and when she sings herself. For her singing is a tool of communicating with God.  She does not feel attached to any religion, she rather sees her spirituality to go beyond the different religions. Yet she loves to put herself in the shoes of people who belong to different religions to feel what they feel. Sometimes she participates, for example, in the Islamic fasting to go through Muslims’ spiritual experiences of fasting or she enters a church to experience Christians’ feelings during the church visits. She emphasizes that since this turn in her life she has found meaning and answers to her questions. She believes that every human being is here for a reason. She tries to be the best person and to contribute to the well-being around her. As someone who does not belong to a specific religious group she argues that she sometimes feels an absence of a sense of community.

Both,  Auor’s journey to liberation and journey to God reflect her wonderful character. An individual who likes to ask, challenge and question things. An individual who does not just follow blindly that what is common but who is keen to do her own inquiry. It was a wonderful opportunity to get an insight into Auor’s journeys of life. Everyone of us has his or her own journey and it is always very inspiring to listen to people’s stories. It makes us see behind the curtain. It makes us understand from where they come and where they are standing now. It makes us also see where we stand ourselves. It makes us reflect on our own stories. It makes us step outside our own lives and look retrospectively at our journey.

 By Asmaa Soliman, 10/2013