October 1

199 applicants...

Urban Strandberg, conference organizer, co-initiator and project manager, share his impressions from the open call for International Youth Conference on November 11-14

Even more fabulous than the numbers, is the amazing content of the applications! I am deeply touched by the personal experiences, dreams and visions for the future, wisdom, and critical analyses of contemporary social developments, conveyed in the applications. Entrusted with such a wealth of invaluable ideas young people is a true privilege! Thank you so very much, you wonderful young people!

When our open conference call closed on August 31, it is truly magnificent that we had received as many as 199 applications from 18-24 olds! Even though the call has closed, applications keep coming. After carefully assessing all applicants’ texts, videos, and audio files, we have now invited 32 conference participants to the International Youth Conference on November 11-14 in Gothenburg.

The selected group include 18 female and 14 male participants originating from the following 17 countries well spread out over the European continent and its borderlands: Belgium, Bulgaria, France (2), Germany (4), Greece (4), Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Palestine, Poland (2), Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain (2), Sweden (3), and the UK (5).

Interestingly is that the by far greatest number of applications comes from Greece, and many applications comes from Italy, and from the UK. I think that it is both telling and very much rewarding for the think tank project’s ground ideas, and the November youth conference, that a grand proportion of applications comes from young people in countries in which you find considerable contemporary economic, social, and political hardships and struggle. Many cogent analyses of the root causes to populism, xenophobia, racism, nationalism etc. are present in the motivations from applicants living in those countries.

Last week I conveyed a personal response to every single one of the 199 applicants. Since the November conference only is one early activity in the International Youth Think Tank building-up process, we asked the applicants not selected to this years’ conference if they care to engage and feed ideas into the process by being part of our youth network and youth panel.

The stunning result from our first conference call has been possible thanks to extraordinary helpfulness from many national and international organizations, who engage in youth, democracy, and other imaginative and admirable activities. This is also to say that many organizations altruistically have acted as our “messengers” by sharing our conference call in many different forms and forums, such as web pages and send lists, newsletters, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et cetera.

My sincerest thanks to everyone who graciously have helped us spreading the word, and a special thanks to the following organizations: BEST-Board of European Students of Technology; British Youth Council; CATCH-EyoU; CMJ-Joint Council on Youth; CoR-Committee of the Regions; Demokratiberedningen Newsletter (SALAR-The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions); DreamHack; El Sistema Side by Side; EPSC-European Political Strategy Centre; ERSTE Foundation; EST-European Student Think Tank; EUROCITIES, Eurodesk; European Youth Portal; “Eutopia” university network; EYP-European Youth Parliament; Friends of Europe; Fryshuset; Gothia Cup; Göteborg Basketball Festival; Göteborg Choir Games; Hult Business School; ICD-Academy for Cultural Diplomacy ICYE-International Cultural Youth Exchange; IDEDI-Institutet för demokrati och dialog; International Youth Foundation; Kvalitetsmässan; LSU-Sveriges ungdomsorganisationer; MUCF-The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society; OBESSU-The Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions; Partille Cup; RYMD-Romanian Youth Movement for Democracy: Röda Sten; SLUSH; Step Up To Serve; WAY-The World Assembly of Youth; Youth Forum.

We are now compiling a conference catalogue with the main objective to introduce the 32 conference participants to the public. The catalogue and additional information about the conference will be part of the think tank project’s second Newsletter that we plan to publish around October 10.

I cannot help but end this brief news by sharing examples of four strong voices from the amazing flood of inspirational ideas found in the 199 applications:

“Having grown up in an area which can be described as economically disadvantaged, I know what it feels like to be getting the short end of the stick. But that has never stopped me from challenging toxic beliefs that prevent open societies and equality and democracy that everyone is entitled to”

“From my point of view, a democratic and open society concerns all the young people since we consist the ‘new blood of the society”

“Moreover, I would give a voice to those who care about protecting values of an open society such as minority rights but are also concerned about protecting national acultural traditions which could be considered a closed society value”

“Last but not least, we should always keep in mind that democracy’s worst enemies are the ignorance and the fear of self-expressing against the injustice”