Preventing Radicalization of Young People through Youth Work — North Macedonia


Programme: Erasmus+, Key Action 1: training course

Venue: Struga, North Macedonia

Dates: 25 November—3 December 2021

Please read the info-pack 

Participating countries: Finland, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Spain, Estonia, Italy, Denmark and the United Kingdom

Hosting organisation: PUNTLAND COMMUNITY RY (Finland) & Volunteers Centre Skopje (North Macedonia)

Czech team: Kristýna Kolářová

Project report:

Welcome to the Balkans!

Today I will take you through the training course Preventing radicalization of young people through youth work, which took place on 25. 11.—3. 12. 2021 in Struga, a picturesque town in Northern Macedonia. It was organized by Puntland Community RY and Volunteers Centre Skopje.

Struga, where the project took place, is located about 3.5 hours from the capital city Skopje, where our whole story begins. My first meeting with other participants happened in airport in Skopje, where we were picked up by the organizers of our project. Exhausted after a long flight but strengthened by Burek (a typical local pastry, 10/10 recommend), we set off together to the place of our accommodation. Along the way, we found out that two different training courses will be held at the same time in the same place. Well, more people equal more fun! But, of course, anti-epidemic measures were being taken care of, therefore we were all tested. Fortunately, only our mood was positive, and the covid tests all came back negative.

The first day was all about team-building games and getting to know some general info about the training course. Since the topic (radicalization) is quite sensitive, it was necessary to get to know each other better, to understand what we talk about and set certain rules of communication, so no one would be afraid to express their opinion. The project brought together people from Estonia, Turkey, North Macedonia, the Czech Republic and we also had the privilege to meet the Somali community from France, Netherlands, Finland and the UK. Even though we were from completely different backgrounds, the organizers managed to help us bond quite quickly.

On the second day we have already approached the very topic of this training course. We started by clarifying what radicalization really is. Through various team activities, we have come to understand the definitions of terms associated with radicalization. Thanks to this, we all had common idea of everything related to radicalization and for the rest of the week it was easier to add our own experience and knowledge to the topic. During the training course, we also talked about stereotypes and prejudices. We all made a poster with our own prejudices and stereotypes about the country that was assigned to us. My task was to write about Turkey. It was quite interesting to see each other perspective and how other countries perceive Czechia. Spoiler alert, it was all about beer and sandals with socks. 😊

Every evening we had an intercultural night, during which the individual countries participating in this project were introduced. These evenings included national dances, dishes, songs, local alcohol … Simply put, we had a great time. As well we had the opportunity to get to know Macedonia better, thanks to the one-day trip organized for us by the organizers. We went to the close by town called Ohrid, which, together with Lake Ohrid, is included in the UNESCO list. The trip helped us gain strength for the rest of the training course and made us all even more united. With a cup of coffee and a baklava, everything goes better!

All our work, that we created together during the project, we summarized in a video, a poster, and we also suggested various ways in which radicalization could be prevented through social networks. It was great to be part of this international team. With this I would like to thank to all my colleagues from the training course. You guys were amazing! Thanks to you, I learned a lot of interesting and useful information, you brought helped me understand better the current situation in your countries and enriched my life with a lot of beautiful memories and unforgettable experiences. I’m very grateful for that. I would also like to thank all the organizers and the EYCB team! Thank you very much, you are great!

                                                                                                                                                  Kristýna Kolářová

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