The International Berghof Summer School for Young Peacebuilders brings together young adults from all around the world, who advocate for peace and nonviolence in their home countries. The project aims at supporting and encouraging young peacebuilders and promotes the establishment of an international network.
Each year, the Summer School for Young Peacebuilders has a specific topic like for example "Refugee Work as Peace Work" in 2016. At the Georg-Zundel-House of the Berghof Foundation in Tübingen the participants exchange their experiences about their work in their home countries and discuss the competencies and skills of peacebuilders. They learn from successful examples of global peacebuilding and realise that they are not alone: neither with their life in regions of crisis and conflict nor with their efforts to find nonviolent ways of acting in their everyday life as well as their working environments. In a relaxing atmosphere the young adults can recuperate from the conflictual and violent situation in their home countries and regain new strength for their peace work.
In all spots 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. The role of young persons in international peacebuilding receives increasing attention. Their scope for action in an environment scarred by conflict and violence is severely limited. Their every-day life and their working life are often debilitating and potentially associated with traumatic experiences.
An essential element of the Summer School is the change of place and perspective of the participants. The distance to their home countries allows them to take a break from the stresses and strains of their working life in a tense environment. Together they relieve stress and regain new strength for their peace work. 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, dialogue and participant oriented methods the participants reflect their working experiences. They find creative solutions for their problems and realise that they have fellow campaigners. Learning from biographies empowers and inspires the young adults.
The Summer School provides a room for the young peacebuilders to experience peace through intercultural encounter and to discuss and test approaches to conflict transformation. The Summer School aims at establishing a global network of young peacebuilders, exchanging ideas and experiences, supporting and cooperating with 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 represents the cornerstone for this endeavour. The Berghof Foundation intends to expand the network to ensure continuity of both exchange and cooperation.
The Summer School is a project of the Berghof Foundation. The Berghof Foundation selects the participants in close dialogue with its local partner organisations.
The Summerschool 2014 was supported by Friends of Berghof Peace Education/ Institute for Peace Education e.V., the university town of Tübingen, and Stiftung Mercator. The support network should be maintained and extended.
...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.
"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.
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.
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.