Overarching Topics: “Overcoming War”, “Building Peace”, and “The Future of Peace in and around Europe”
The topic of the international youth meeting “Youth for Peace – 100 Years After World War I, 100 Ideas for Peace” is the end of World War I and the future of peace in Europe and with its neighbors. What can young people today do to build and maintain peace in and around Europe? Using the end of World War I as a starting point, participants will look back on European history and the history of its relations with its neighbors in order to better understand current and future relations and build peace.
The guiding questions are: How can a war or conflict situation be overcome and how can sustainable peace be achieved? How can the sustainable formation of peace in Europe and with its neighbors succeed? Peace processes will be understood here as active processes. The goal is to work out what role people and social groups have played, currently play, or could play in peace processes.
From that, the following general leading questions for the workshop program derived:
- How does the transition from a situation of war to a situation of peace succeed?
- Under which circumstances can peace processes become sustainable?
- What can politicians and individual citizens, particularly youth, do for a peaceful future in Europe and with its neighbors?
- How can democracy, participation, freedom, and social justice be promoted? What are they threatened by?
- How can we counteract stereotypes, prejudices, propaganda, populism, right-wing extremism or xenophobia?
- Does a European or transnational culture of commemoration exist?
The three-day workshop program is divided into three large overarching topics that build upon one another.
Day 1: Overcoming War: Europe and Its Neighbors after World War I
The different modules of the first day are focused on multiperspectivity, using World War I as a starting point: What do the youth know about the war? What personal or familial connections do they have to World War I? How was the topic handled in their schools? Which narratives and perceptions of World War I are they familiar with in their societies? How did World War I end (politically, legally, militarily, socially, culturally; agreements, territories/borders, grief and memory cultures)? How is World War I remembered (monuments, memorials)? What consequences did the war have for not only Europe, but also for its neighbors, e.g. in North Africa and the Middle East?
Day 2: From War to Peace – Building Peace
During the modules of the second day, participants will work out the difference between “ending a war” and “building peace”. The end of a war does not necessarily mean peace. This begins with a critical examination of memory culture based on an urban exploration of historical places of memory and peace sites in Berlin (graveyards, memorials, portions of the Berlin Wall, etc.). How can reconciliation and peace processes based on a constructive approach to cultures of memory be initiated? What conditions must be met for peace? Based on the results collected up to that point, concrete courses of action, instruments, and strategies for conflict prevention and conflict mediation can be developed and discussed in the next step. As we transition to the third day, the question arises: how can young people themselves participate actively as peacemakers?
Day 3: The Future of Peace in Europe and with its Neighbors
These modules are dedicated to developing concrete ideas for peace in Europe today and in the future. How can peace in Europe and with its neighbors be created and sustained? What could a European or transnational memory culture look like? What could an inclusive, integrative Europe look like? How can further EU disintegration and Euroscepticism be prevented? How can democracy, participation, freedom, and social justice be promoted and protected? Will Europe live up to its role and responsibility in the 21st century, especially in its southern and eastern neighborhoods? Does peace in Europe depend on peace in its neighborhood and in the world?
Topics and Formats of the Workshop Modules
Module 1: Getting Acquainted/Personal Connections to World War I
This module is about introductory remarks, getting acquainted, and personal connections to World War I. The youth leaders (YL) will provide a thematic and organizational introduction into the program of the following three days. Various exercises will help the participants get acquainted with each other. The rules of communication will be established within the group (e.g. no judging the life experiences of the participants or their families, not considering the own opinion as universal, not reprimanding others etc.). Participants will establish individual, personal, and familial connections to World War I or other contemporary wars (e.g. their own experiences of war or other violent conflicts).
The aims of this module are familiarizing the group members with one another and sensitizing participants to historical questions and other memory cultures. It is also concerned with connecting the concept of “world history” to one’s own experiences and taking the diverse lives and experiences of the participants into account.
Module 2: Different Perspectives of the End of World War I
Building on the first module, the following questions will be addressed here: How is the end of World War I and its consequences perceived and interpreted by societies? What do the participants already know about World War I, its end and the repercussions it had for Europe and its neighbors? Which narratives from the past and present are they aware of? Which other narratives and perspectives on the time after World War I exist (postcolonial narratives, gender, family narratives)? How was the end of World War I experienced throughout the societies of Western, Eastern, and Central Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and in other neighboring countries? How do “Winner” and “Loser” narratives about concrete historical events differ? A comparison of different school books from different countries will be made.
The aim of this module is to sensitize the participants to the multiperspectivity of memory cultures, which means discussing existing perspectives on historical events, be they on the individual, familiar, national or on transnational level. This will create a preliminary panorama of the diverse connections, experiences, perceptions, and information related to World War I. The participants will attain greater understanding of what the end of World War I meant for various societies in the countries in and around Europe and which interpretations exist.
Modules 3 to 6: Overcoming War, Building Peace
The modules 3, 4, 5 and 6 are all about the role of youth in addressing the following questions: What is the difference between “ending a war” and “building peace”? How can a war be ended? How can peace be actively built? What does the expression of “peace” entail? How must processes of peace be shaped in order generate sustainable success? Why is it easier for our societies to remember war than to remember peace processes? Under what circumstances can the memory of wars be an asset for building peace?
In the following, the modules 3, 4, 5, and 6 will described more precisely.
Module 3: Open Forum – From War to Peace
After the group work in Modules 1 and 2, the participants will have the opportunity to delve into the topic of “From War to Peace” through discussions with external experts, journalists, artists, scientists, and activists. What political, economic, social, cultural, and psychological consequences can wars have? What are the experiences of individuals, societies, and political systems in postwar situations? This will be thematized with regard to World War I as well as to other wars. Module 3 is conceived as an “open house” format with different “stations”: During this module, 16 different projects, discussions, talks, workshops, knowledge stations, performances, presentations etc. will take place in the 16 seminar rooms of the youth hostel. The participants can decide freely where they would like to go, and stop at different “stations”. At the end of this module the participants gather again in their groups and discuss their experiences and impressions.
The aims of this module are to create new associations to the subjects of war and peace, look beyond the horizon, gain new knowledge, ideas and inspirations at the different stations, come together in conversation with experts, or simply be creative. It also aims to serve as a transition to the modules on Day 2, which are focused on further discussions of questions related to concrete ways of peacebuilding.
More information about the Open Forum can be found on the Youth for Peace website.
Module 4: Tracing History in Berlin
This module is dedicated to the exploration of places of war and peace in the city of Berlin, which makes it possible to take advantage of Berlin’s historical potential. The small excursion groups will be assembled by the youth leaders, provided with a task, and partly accompanied during their excursion. The aim is to discover and decode (décryptage, Spurensuche) remnants of past wars and conflicts, as well as places or symbols of peace. Participants should play an active role during the excursions. Local partners can also be consulted or brought in for this module. The results of the exploration will be compiled and evaluated in Module 5.
The aim of this module is to familiarize participants with the city of Berlin, understand places through their historical and contemporary context and discuss their importance for commemorative culture. At the same time, the participants should reflect why it is easier for contemporary societies to remember wars than it is to remember peace processes. Is peace a topic that is depicted at all in urban spaces? If so, how? What do the youth perceive as symbols of peace?
Module 5: The Meaning of Peace
The results of the morning’s exploration will first be summarized and evaluated. Here, the participants should also have the opportunity to make connections between their experiences in Berlin and those in the place where they normally live. As a whole, this module should allow the participants to reflect on and discuss the concept of “peace” as well as the different interpretations and symbolic expressions of this concept in greater detail.
The aim here is to analyze: What does the concept of “peace” entail? How must processes of peace be arranged so that they can succeed sustainably?
Module 6: Designing Peace Today
This module is about active and concrete methods of peace building. Peace does not “happen” on its own; it must be built actively. What active measures can be taken to build peace today? Who can contribute what and in which form in order for peaceful societies to develop? Concrete methods of “peacebuilding” are understood here as various interstate and/or international measures taken to develop peace after the end of an armed conflict that aim to foster democratization, stability, and reconciliation. Examples of such methods for long-term democratization, stabilization and reconciliation are civil society dialogues, institution building, transitional justice, education and youth work or the implementation of elections. How can individuals contribute to building peace? At the end of the module, a short summary of the results, reflections and impressions of the first two workshop days will be compiled. This summary will then be presented to the newly arriving young “IFA Peace Ambassadors” (5 per group) the next morning.
The aim of this module is to work out in detail which instruments and methods are at our disposal if we wish to transform a post-conflict or post-war situation into a peaceful situation, as well as which conditions must be met so that this peace will be stable. Participants will also have the opportunity to reflect on the possibilities for personal engagement as a peacemaker.
The third workshop day “The future of peace in and around Europe” is dedicated in particular to the development, elaboration and finalization of the groups’ idea for peace. At the end of Module 7, every group should have agreed upon one central idea. The format in which this idea will be presented is up to the group. For example, this can be a short video clip, a collage, an image, a text, or a performance etc. The presentation must not be longer than 2-3 minutes!
Module 7: Ideas for Peace in and around Europe
The group of 20 older participants (18-22) will welcome and integrate the group of 5 younger participants (15-16). One or two selected speakers will present the current discussion to the new arrivals. The school-age students taking part in the school initiative organized by the Institut Français d’Allemagne (IFA) will present their own preliminary considerations of ideas for peace. The group will also work together on their prior knowledge of Europe, their perceptions and expectations of Europe (and the European Union). For instance: Does Europe live up to its role as a peace actor? What are concrete possibilities for actively building peace in Europe and with its neighbors? How can, or rather should, politicians, civil society organizations, and each one of us become actively involved? How can the European project be thought out from a new perspective and revived “from below”?
At the end of this module, the group must have agreed on one idea for peace that they would like to work on for the rest of the day.
The aim of this module to compile the preexisting knowledge on Europe and the European Union within the group from different perspectives and work together to make a decision for one “idea for peace” to work on in the group.