Two facilitators guided us on a journey, using movement, music, and even Lego, to consider what is meant by conflict and how we fit into the picture of peacebuilding and peacekeeping. The first few days were more personal, where we got to explore ourselves, and what we, as young people, bring to the peacebuilding space, such as listening skills, compassion and our own lived experience. We also considered our own needs and wants, and what conflict can feel like in the body.
While in Lithuania, Glencree was delighted to have 3 fantastic young women from our All-Island Women’s Peacebuilding Network join the exchange. Aoife Redmond from Peaceplayers Northern Ireland, Ashley Makombe from the Galpal Collective and Niamh Flynn, the Chair GOAL Global Youth Network represented the Irish delegation. As part of the exchange, we were encouraged to use the creative arts to explore different ways of connecting to the topic of youth-led peacebuilding and community development through youth work.
As the group bonded over the week, learning together about other’s perspectives, we also had the opportunity to run a ‘Human Library’ in Merkinė’s local community cultural centre. This gave participants a chance to share the work that they’re involved in, in Ireland and beyond, with the local community, thereby also encouraging shared learning.
The evening continued with a cultural exchange with a local community group demonstrating Lithuanian folk dance and song and we had a wonderful evening of fun and laughter all round.
The last few days of our exchange offered us spaces to be creative and consider the global perspective of peace. What actions can we take at a local level that can contribute to wider global peace?
Our facilitators helped channel our inner artist, storyteller or facilitator, whatever it may be for each of us, and the results were fantastic! Collectively, we managed to develop and pilot meditation activities that encouraged us to focus on gratitude, cartoon comics that illustrated the impact that a “them and us” rhetoric can have on young people, and prose that highlighted the often unheard feelings and experiences of neighbours, families and friends who have lost people in conflicts around the world.
The week ended with heaps of strong friendships that we believe will last the test of time, as well as a greater understanding of conflict across Europe. We took with us lots of inspiration and motivation to continue our peace work on the island of Ireland.
Aoife Redmond (Peaceplayers Northern Ireland) shared her poem that beautifully illustrates how conflict can manifest in the body. It gives you a taster of our experience (view poem on right).
We're excited to see what activities everyone brings back to their communities and how they continue to engage in the project
🔥 This Youth Exchange was facilitated by Kelvin Akpaloo and Vladislav Artiukhov.
Amina Moustafa, Glencree Project Manager, The Missing Peace Project