International Summer School for Young Peacebuilders

The International Berghof Summer School for Young Peacebuilders brings together young adults from all around the world, who advocate for peace and nonviolence in Germany and in their home countries. It addresses in particular young refugees, regardless of their status and corresponding prospects of residency.

The project aims at qualifying and encouraging young peacebuilders and promotes the establishment of a national and international network. Paramount is moreover the joint learning from the multifarious pool of experiences of the group and from best-practice examples of global peacebuilding. Through experience-based learning and participatory methods, the participants find creative solutions for dealing with the challenges in their work, such as hate speech and smear campaigns – online and offline. Moreover, they realise that they have fellow campaigners.
In a relaxing atmosphere, the young adults can regain new strength for their peace work, enhance their expertise and get inspired for their continued work.

Timeframe

Annually since 2014 with alternating thematic focuses.

Conflict Setting

In Germany, but also in all areas of conflict and crisis around the world, there are people who speak out against the use of violence and who are committed to a more peaceful future in various ways, regardless of their residency, origin, status or gender. The role of young adults in the area of worldwide peacebuilding receives increasing attention, not least due to the 2015 UN resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). However, their scope of action in surroundings scarred by conflict and violence remains severely limited. Their every-day life just as their working life are often debilitating and potentially associated with traumatic experiences. In addition, discriminatory, anti-democratic or racist hostilities are often part of the every-day life of engaged young people, in regions of conflict as well as in the German or European context. Commonly, this is particularly experienced by those, who have a background in (forced) migration. The activities of this target group however, get significantly less public attention and accordingly less support.

Approach

The UN resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) demonstrates that young people can make a significant contribution to peace and security, if they receive appropriate support and involvement. This also counts for young people that fled their homes in search of security and protection.

An essential element of the Summer School is therefore, first of all, the strengthening of the potential of the young adults to contribute to a nonviolent and peaceful co-existence. Pursuing a holistic approach, the summer school takes into account different aspects and topics related to peace and constructive conflict transformation and addresses the specific challenges of youth engaged in these fields. Besides the transfer of peace competencies, as knowledge to improve the understanding of peace, violence, conflict and war, the participants shall expand their capacities for peace and are empowered for independent peace action. Thereby, the concept of the summer school is based on the three dimensions of peace educational work with a further emphasis on an alternation of phases of collective knowledge acquisition and knowledge consolidation, practical exploration of skills, exchange and change of perspectives, as well as relaxation and recreation.

Aims & Outcomes

The Summer School provides a space for young people to experience peace through encounter and to discuss, learn and test approaches of peace education and conflict transformation. Together they critically reflect the backgrounds of their own attitudes and behaviour with regard to democratic rights and the norms for peaceful co-existence in a globalised world. The summer school aims at encouraging and enabling the young people to continue and eventually enhance their engagement for peace in Germany and in their countries of origin following the summer school. This also includes that they learn simple methods of self-care and stress management, as well as how to deal with topics like trauma and secondary traumatisation.

Furthermore, the Summer School aims at establishing a national and international network of young peacebuilders, who exchange ideas and experiences, cooperate and support each other. A young participant emphasises: “Until now, the countries were names only; now I made friends there. This network will assist us to cooperate in the future”. The Summer School 2014 represents the cornerstone for this endeavour. The Berghof Foundation intends to expand the network in the future to ensure continuity of both exchange and cooperation.

Another part of the summer school programme is an evening event for the interested public. Through direct encounter and exchange and by means of concrete examples, it raises awareness for the potential of youth in peacebuilding work.

Partners

The Summer School is a project of the Berghof Foundation. The Berghof Foundation selects the participants in close dialogue with its (local) partner organisations.

Funders

The Summer School 2018 is supported by Friends of Berghof Peace Education/ Institute for Peace Education e.V. and the university town of Tübingen. The support network should be maintained and extended.

July 2018 - Summer School for Young Peacebuilders

It’s time again: In September 2018 young peacebuilders from all over the world will be coming together for a fourth International Berghof Summer School in the Georg Zundel House in Tübingen.

This year the summer school specifically addresses young people with a background in (forced) migration, who advocate for peace in Germany or their home countries.

From September 3rd to 7th 2018, the participants will have the possibility to exchange experiences from their civil society engagement. Furthermore, they will be acquainted with approaches of peace education and learn how to deal with challenges, like hate speech and trauma.

July 2016 - "We are changing the world...

...in a peaceful and a better place - even if it's going to be a slow and long process!", concluded a participant of the 3rd International Summerschool for Young Peacebuilders. As in previous years, fifteen particularly committed young adults met at the Georg Zundel Haus of the Berghof Foundation in Tübingen to exchange experiences, get to know new content and methods of peace education and to recover from their challenging work environments. A main focus of the summerschool was to provide inspiration for a conflict-sensitive refugee work, which the participants would to implement within the context of their countries of origin or residence (Rwanda, Uganda, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Montenegro, Sweden, France, Germany).

In the light of the developments in Turkey and the attacks in Germany, it became clear how important an international network is to understand and develop refugee work as peace building over the long term.

The summerschool was supported apart from private donors by the Friends of Berghof Peace Education, the university town of Tübingen, and Stiftung Mercator, the State Agency for Civic Education Baden-Württemberg, the Wilhelm-Schickard-School Tübingen and the German Federal Foreign Office in different ways.

May 2016 – Announcement of the Third International Berghof Sommer School for Young Peacebuilders

"Refugee Work as Peace Work" will be the topic of this year's International Summer School for Young Peacebuilders in Tübingen. About 20 young adults from countries like Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Turkey, Greece, Montenegro, Ukraine, Sweden and Germany will come together at the Georg Zundel House of the Berghof Foundation from 15th to 22nd July.

Some of the participants have themselves experiences of displacement and flight and commit themselves worldwide today for those seeking protection as a refugee. In this context, the Summer School will bring together a new generation of Young Peacebuilders who are all engaged in educational and social assistance for refugees on a voluntary or full-time basis. Aim of the Summer School is to foster the participants' understanding of refugee assistance as peace work. By this, conditions are set for a long-term, value-oriented engagement. The meeting of young practitioners with similar professional backgrounds guarantees an extraordinary exchange of experience at eye level and renders a peer-to-peer encouragement within a protected space possible.

September 2015 – Second International Berghof Sommer School for Young Peacebuilders

The second Berghof Summer School took place in the Georg Zundel Haus in Tuebingen with 16 participants from Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Ivory Coast and Rwanda. They created a network to inspire and support each other in the challenging work for peace. The young people work in refugee camps, in NGOs, in museums, in research or peace activism. During the one week programme they exchanged their experiences and discussed principles and strategies of nonviolence. The participants were very excited about the interactive peace education methods used. They can apply them now in their countries with their own target groups and thus enlarge the network of young peacebuilders. The Major of Tübingen, Boris Palmer, recognised the work of the young peacebuilders in his welcome address and underlined the importance of the event for the city of Tübingen.

September 2014 – First International Berghof Sommer School for Young Peacebuilders

Young peacebuilders from Abkhazia, Egypt, Germany, Georgia, Honduras, Iran, Jordan, Libanon, Macedonia and Palestine participated in the first International Berghof Summer School. The 15 young adults learned from good-practice examples of global peacebuilding, exchanged their experiences and shared work expertise. Staff members of the UN Institute Institut for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the non-governmental organisation Peace Boat provided additional ideas and impetus. An excursion to the Lindau peace museum demonstrated how attractive rooms to learn about peace strategies can be created. In their evaluations of the Summer School the participants appreciated the high recreational value from the stresses and strains of daily life, often marked by violent conflicts, in their home countries. Finally, they valued the encouragement to continue their work in a reflective manner.