The training Extremeless Europe took place near Vilnius, Lithuania between 27th August and 3 September organized by International Youth to Youth Initiative Organization and financed by Erasmus+.
The participants were from all around the world, but more precisely from Belarus, Armenia, Sweden, Lithuania and last but not least from Hungary.
According to the image of the this training which is about sustainability we had vegetarian food for the whole week even though not all of us were vegetarian. In this way we were a bit sceptic about our meals at the beginning, but by the end all the non-vegetarian people were glad that we could try this kind of ‘diet’ here, because we lived like kings considering the variety and the amount of food we had.
The first day was reserved for arrivals. For most of us it was the first time in Lithuania, so some participants arrived a few days earlier and took this opportunity to see Vilnius. On August 27, we all met at the bus station in Vilnius and took a bus to the venue called Mokymu centras Daugirdiskes. When we arrived, we had our first introductions and dinner. The focus for August 28th was getting to know each other and the program of the training course. We played many introductory games in order to learn our names and interests. One of them was splitting into smaller groups and compete to complete short and sometimes funny tasks and riddles. Finally we also shared our expectations, fears and contributions for the upcoming days.
29 August was the first day when we started to get closer to the main topic of the training.
We got to know the roots of radicalism and the definitions we were working throughout the week with. Working in groups was characteristic of the whole training.
On this day, for instance, all groups had to create an article about the marriage of a girl from the royal family and an Asian boy, from different perspectives. We also met Kelsey and Tim, the Project Manager and the Project Coordinator of ISD and
we learned a lot about the role and tools of media in combating violent extremism.
At the end of the day, we hold the so-called NGO Fair where we had the opportunity to represent our sending organization: Sabai Training.
On the next day (30 August) we had one last session with Kelsey and Tim and after that we met Bjørn, a Koﬁ Annan Foundation Extremely Together Young Leader and the survivor of the attack on Utøya in Norway. We started working on the project “Imagine an extremist” in groups. In the evening, the time has come that everyone has been waiting for: the Intercultural Evening, where we got to know the other countries and cultures, and we could represent Hungary.
The next morning
we learnt about the powers of storytelling through a group exercise where we had to find 3 common points in the speakers story where we could relate and connect with our own story.
The majority of the day was left for us to further explore our extremist we created the previous day, but this time our task was to find a way to de-radicalise him from his beliefs and do all that in a video format. We all got very creative and committed to the challenge, and in the afternoon we got to collectively enjoy each others’ creations. In the closing session we met our last trainer of the project, Noureddine Erradi, the current Chairman of IFA (Integration For All) In an effort to promote intercultural understanding and dialogue. His work largely entails developing and actively participating in the reintegration process of radicalised individuals back to society. In his session we watched a documentary about the immigrants on their way to Australia. After that we closed the day with a traditional Lithuanian dinner.
On the 1st of September we continued our work with Noureddine. We got to explore some personal stories of extremists living in our era and discuss what we think their motivation was behind getting radicalised, and later find out the true answers. The second half of the session was left for us to ask questions about Noureddine’s work which he candidly responded to. We found out what the life of these individuals look like, during and after their de-radicalisation journey. In the afternoon
we had an interesting simulation game led by Saida, in which we had to put ourselves in the place of a town hall representative and carry out a debate
about whether or not the town should build a Mosque by the will of the newly settled down muslim immigrants or respect the town’s authentic Christian appearance. We were encouraged to take on the character as much as we could, and come to a final conclusion at the end. Regarding the big success of the game we got some extra free time before dinner which we used to explore the village, go for a swim in the nearby lake or have some downtime on their own in order to relax.
The last day we spent working on planning a “follow up project”, answering each given category (such as: aim, ways to reach the target audience, finances, people involved, materials, milestones…) This one definitely challenged us having to flex our entrepreneurial muscle, but at the same time it was very inspiring to see how we were able to check each box and potentially create something as powerful as a fund-raising project or a service that would provide help for the ones in need. After this we received our youthpasses and had our final evaluation in which we reflected on the training course as a whole and checked back with our post-it notes from the first day of our expectations, fears and contributions and see if or how much they came true. In the evening we closed this wonderful week with a goodby party, taking some last pictures, celebrating the great time we spent together before we started our journey back home the next morning.
Personally I feel like this project has given me so much knowledge and perspective that I never would have expected. I came with motivation to learn more about the current situation in Europe and now I not only am more aware of the different types and levels of extremism and the process of radicalisation,
but through this experience I learnt how to tackle a task that seems too challenging, how to work in teams effectively and use my time efficiently, all which I can utilise in my daily life going forward.. And did all that in a safe and friendly environment with people whom I now call friends, and cannot wait to reconnect with in the future.
I am very grateful for this opportunity and everyone who made it possible:
the organisers, the trainers, Erasmus+ – that funded the whole training course, the NGOs -most importantly Sabai Training which selected us, Hungarians and which we got to represent throughout the week! Thank you so so much!
Rita Királyfy, Elza Koleszár, Bernadett Szabó, Dorina Benczik, Žiga Vidmar
Special thanks to: