October 23

218 applicants!

Urban Strandberg, conference organizer, IYTT co-initiator and project manager, share his impressions from the open call for International Youth Conference on November 16-19.

Let me start by conveying my heartfelt thanks to all 218 who applied to IYC2020!

When I started to share the conference call in early June, I was hoping to receive many applications. Receiving 218 applications from 18-24 olds with citizenship in 38 countries exceeds very much my most optimistic expectations. This is also to say that we outperform the turnout of last year’s conference call when we received 199 applications from 18-24 olds with citizenship in 31 countries.

Even more stunning than the numbers is the amazing content of the applications: the personal experiences, dreams and visions for the future, wisdom, and critical analyses of contemporary social developments, conveyed in the applications, touches me deeply. Entrusted with such a wealth of invaluable ideas among 18-24 olds is a true privilege for me and the IYTT.

This is also to say that it has been a challenging task to assess all applications and select 24 participants. I am thus very happy today, proudly presenting all those 24 individuals bound for a voyage to become democracy entrepreneurs starting with participating in IYC2020.

The selected group include 15 female and 9 male participants originating from the following 12 countries: Bulgaria, Columbia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Syria, and the United Kingdom.

Two and a half week ago I spent one full day conveying a personal response to every single one of the 218 applicants. Since the November conference only is one activity in the IYTT building-up process, I asked the applicants not selected to IYC2020 if they care to engage and feed ideas into the process by being part of our youth network and youth panel. I am very happy that many want to engage in the IYTT, even though they were not invited to IYC2020.

The stunning result from our second 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. I am also very grateful to the IYC2019 alumni, who now engage as IYTT Youth Fellows, who shared the call in their networks. My sincerest thanks to everyone who graciously have helped us spreading the word.

You are hereby warmly welcomed to explore our conference catalogue which introduce the 24 participants as well as the four conference moderators.

I cannot resist ending this brief news by sharing examples of four strong voices from the amazing flood of inspirational ideas found in the 218 applications:

“The rise of populism in the last few years, although by no means unprecedented, does have a particular strength that has not been seen in a long time. The refusal of leaders around the world, significantly in traditionally liberal countries, to defend the post WWII international order as strongly as during previous decades certainly bodes very sourly for the future”

“The current global crisis is strikingly showing us the importance of ‘being a community’ – and, crucially, one who leaves no one behind – stressing the need for inter-state cooperation and inter-cultural dialogue. But this is not enough; we also have to speak the ‘language of responsibility’ that is the language of taking action”

“As the new faces of traditionalism emerge from the tombs of History, it is the job of those who still believe on Social, Cultural and Political progress to stand up, discuss and come up with new and innovative ways to fight back this dangerous tide. With that said, I strongly believe that the burden and responsibility of that job falls on the shoulders of our youth, where idealism and realism meet and generate the wheels over which change can happen.”

“In history, our ancestors fought for freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religions, freedom for civil rights, in one word: they fought for democracy. We are born in a democratic system and every freedom we could have, but as the latest time could show us it is not so discounted. The degeneration of the democracy and the rising of populism, nationalism, authoritarianism is something visible and is something that we cannot ignored!”