Internationales Bildungs- und Begegnungswerk in Dortmund

ewoca³ congress in Hattingen: Europe, now more than ever!

ewoca³ congress in Hattingen: Europe, now more than ever!

While discussions all over Europe are focused on the closing of borders and increasing isolationism, representatives of 45 youth work organisations in 17 European countries met in Hattingen on the Ruhr. Using international youth encounters, together they want to take a stand for an open Europe. This summer and autumn 15 workcamps will take place in eleven countries. From the 10th to the 14th of March, at the DGB (Federation of German trade unions) youth education centre Hattingen, the activists continued to network and plan their projects.
Gespräch beim ewoca kongressThey build an ecological garden in Turkey, are actively engaged against racism in Italy, build a wooden stage on the Greek island of Samothrace, support memorial work in Poland and meet refugees in Germany: The projects are diverse, but there are also similarities. Always, youths from three countries take part, and it is always about actively engaging in civil society – and especially about actual physical work, in each case improving the situation at the location.
“It is exciting to be present in Hattingen”, says Elke Wegener, general manager of the International Association for Education and Exchange (IBB). The funding programmes ewoca³ and ewoca³(+), implemented by IBB, enable the projects. “We want to overcome boundaries – also between the EU and its neighbouring countries. This is why I am especially happy for youth work organisations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Turkey, Belarus and Ukraine to take part.”
Projektvorstellung auf dem ewoca-kongressShowing that understanding others is possible even in the most complicated of circumstances, is the goal of youths from Cologne, Russia and Ukraine: This summer they will meet in Gulyayevka in Siberia, to implement a mobile youth cafe there. Their “One World Cafe” will also be used by the activists themselves, to collaboratively discuss the situation in their respective countries. “This is a good example for the contribution international youth work can make in the face of the current crises”, says Elke Wegener. “But we also have to warn: A further closing of borders would not only be bad for our European societies, they also endanger such projects.”
“We will not be intimidated by the political debates,” says Bálint Jósa of Hungarian organisation Szubjektiv, which is engaged in furthering diversity and ecology. This year they, together with the Youth Academy Walberberg from Bornheim in Germany, will participate in an eco-project in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Last summer the three project partners already supported an ecological town in Hungary. “Doing this practical work we can best show the kind of Europe we wish for. Here, at the congress in Hattingen we put the foundations in place for another year of great collaboration.”


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