Global Youth Rising 2016 – Reflections

This year, from the 10-20th of July, PATRIR and its partner organisations brought together 70 peacebuilders and activists from around the world. Coming from Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, some of our participants and trainers represented organisations, while others came because of their personal interest and journeys towards peace.13838209_1240187859334411_490142929_o

The International Youth Forum took place in the mountains of Transylvania, where the mornings brought stunning sunrises over the valleys and the nights brought clear night skies and campfires (when they didn’t bring thunderstorms and rain!). Such a peaceful setting was perfect for morning strolls, for those who didn’t take part in morning yoga or enjoy a coffee on the terrace.

We started our journey by coming together to talk about the challenges facing the world today, and we were able to hear about what had brought each person here – what they were passionate about, what changes they wanted to make in the world, and what they wanted to get out of Global Youth Rising. Some had come because they were passionate activists in their own countries, others because they wanted to learn more about peace. We heard about human rights abuses, discrimination, environmental challenges and peace education from around the world as each of us shared our motivations for coming to Global Youth Rising.

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After a day of reflection, where our reflection groups were first created, participants were able to get to know each other in the evening through a Living Library exercise. Looking back on the experiences that had shaped and defined them, everybody wrote down the title that they would have if their life were a book. Others selected the book they would most like to read and were able to “borrow” that person to hear their stories; a beautiful way to start truly getting to know each other.

The following days brought together an array of workshops – often too many to choose from! Participants were given the chance to focus on peacebuilding, learning lessons from the field and inspiring examples of real change; about Monitoring and Evaluation; Peace Education; EU Advocacy; Conflict Analysis, and many other topics. Those who wanted to learn to manage their emotions and develop inner peace were able to sign up to a 3-day workshop from the International Association of Human Values, who specialise in using breathing techniques to help people in the field of peacebuilding deal with trauma and difficult emotions.

13844222_1240189486000915_1018276935_o13658953_727647417375455_3728803542742701973_nIn the evenings, we shared campfires, danced together, watched documentaries and heard some moving and inspiring stories from some of our trainers. Jo Berry, Bjørn Ihler and Asma Khalifa shared their experiences of trauma, but each one shared how they had learnt to humanise the person or people who had caused their suffering – a powerful reminder that those of us who commit to peacebuilding need to practice peace not only in our everyday lives but when we are faced with painful, and at times life-shaking, situations.

The following morning, we woke up to news of the attack in Nice; another stark reminder of why we are doing what we do. Later that evening, news of the military coup in Turkey arrived. In the mountains, where things were safe and peaceful, we might have felt detached and a million miles away from everything; but when members of our group were from France or lived in Turkey, the reality didn’t feel very far from home. Some of us reported feeling small – as if nothing we did could make a difference. In response to that, some of us came together with Erika Kulnys (a powerful singer-songwriter who focuses on social justice themes) and wrote a song. While a song can’t always change the world, it can remind us that most people in the world want peace, and that we are always able to turn to each other when the skies are stormy.

On Saturday, we had a day to relax and explore some of the nearby sights (or to sleep in late!). Some went on a city break to the historical city of Sibiu, while others were able to see Sighisoara, hometown of Vlad “Dracula” Tepes. Sadly, the planned hike wasn’t able to happen due to thunderstorms and pouring rain, although a handful of our participants stayed behind at the hotel and had their own hike in the mountains surrounding the hotel.13754169_729263953880468_5738979964574442049_n


Over the next few days, PAX joined us and brought some of their Activist Hive workshops to Global Youth  IMG_1711Rising, including the Activist Lab where participants created campaigns in 30 minutes and Activist TV, where powerful 1-2 minute films were made over the course of a couple of hours. Workshops gradually gave way to action groups as a lot of our participants and trainers were fired up and ready to start building plans and projects to actually do something. In just two days, we filmed a solidarity video for Black Lives Matter, worked on a statement as a response to events in Nice, learnt and filmed choreography for the Break the Chain dance (for One Billion Rising), while several new ideas and collaborations were formed and will continue to be worked on over the coming months.


Our evenings were inspired by some participants’ TED-style talks, where we learnt about Nineveh under Da’esh occupation, how social media brought about revolutionary change in Guatemala, about V-day and One Billion Rising’s campaign to end sexual violence against women, a community created for peace in Portugal, peace journalism in Lebanon, the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, the Japanese government’s Ship for Youth Peace programme, and the creation of the Peace Science Digest. We also shared an Open Mic night where we were able to discover how talented so many of our participants and trainers are – it turns out we have a lot of talented poets, singers, and dancers in the world of peacebuilding!

On the last day, we heard about all the new ideas and projects that are being dreamt up and started, but it 13716016_729302360543294_481622917084508286_n
was also a day to reflect on what we had learnt and what we would take forward with us both personally and professionally. We ended with a beautiful graduation ceremony, where 1-2 people were invited to give appreciation to each person as they received their certificate. The result was a lot of hugs, and a lot of love being shared – a lot of solid friendships were definitely created during our 10 days in the mountains!

Now, as we return back to our ‘real lives’ post-GYR, we have heard that a few people have felt down, lonely, perhaps frustrated as their enthusiasm is dismissed as naïve idealism by friends or family members. It can be difficult to keep the momentum going, to stay motivated in our quest to make the world a better place when we are not surrounded with people just as passionate as we are. But we will all stay in touch via the Facebook group and our working groups focusing on specific issues, and we will always be able to support and motivate each other when things seem tough. And, of course, we can always meet again… at Global Youth Rising 2017!

What some of our participants said about their experience:

As a peacebuilder and attendee of Global Youth Rising 2016, my life has transformed by all of what I learned in the workshop series and in the many conversations I’ve had with fellow peacebuilders. I am peace. I am love. I am beauty. I am power. This is to be conveyed in all that I do.” Thea Matthews, USA

Having not fully immersed myself in peacebuilding, GYR helped me become clear about where I wanted to get involved, how to do that/which organisations are around and I was able to meet the most incredible and diverse of people in the process. A life changing event for me!” Josh Oliver, UK

Global Youth Rising is about recognising values in every one of us and be ready to collectively contribute to a more inclusive world. Everyone has something to offer and this forum gives you the opportunity to open up and with your gift to build a united and diverse peace.” Sophie Helle, Switzerland

Young people have a power to change the world to better. Only thing they need is to be connected and helped in raising their potential. Global Youth Rising is doing both: connecting and empowering Global Youth.” Katerina Reslova, Czech Republic

Awareness of our self in the paradigm of the current world is (everything?) we all need to cultivate inner peace and empathy to transcend our egos and difference, and include and feel for the other. GYR gives a hands-on powerful and life-changing experience where global connections and perspectives and made to expand our consciousness.” Anirudh Goel, India 


Where will Global Youth Rising take place?

Our application deadline has passed but if you don’t require a visa to enter Romania (click here to find out if you need one) this might be your lucky day – we have some open spaces and are accepting last minute applications!


The International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising will take place in Păltiniş, a mountain resort in Transylvania, Romania, 35 km south-west from Sibiu.
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It is situated at 1440 m altitude, being the highest resort in Romania, and lies in a conifer forest. It is a
popular winter destination and in summer it is sought for its peacefulness. There is always snow and skiing, and it is known for its fresh air and easily accessible trekking routes.

It was founded by an association – Siebenbuergischer Karpatenverein (S.K.V.) – in 1894 and three villas from that period still exist. Currently there are 4 hotels, 6 chalets and 17 villas and an increasing number of private holiday houses.At the entrance in the resort, there is a Romanian Orthodox monastery; the place where the Romanian philosopher Constantin Noica spent the last period of his lifetime.

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The beauty of the mountain landscape presenting peaks over 2000m high, the fresh and ozonized air of the coniferous forests create here a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Things to do: walk, enjoy and the cable railway facilitates the transport for the tourists.

Global Youth Rising will take place in the Alpina Tourist Complex; a venue that boasts 84 sleeping spaces, a campsite, 5 conference rooms and an outside terrace. There is also a park where children can play and forest walks where you can walk and relax.

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During Global Youth Rising, we will also offer a choice of two excursions:

Day trip to Sibiu: Leaving the hotel in the morning, enjoying an (optional) lunch in a Romanian restaurant, a guided tour of the city and free time to enjoy shopping, coffee and sightseeing. Sibiu is 30 minutes away from the Global Youth Rising venue.


Some history of Sibiu: Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture in 2007, together with Luxemburg,
being the first city in South-Eastern Europe to receive this title. Even before Romania adhered to the European Union, Sibiu was already being acknowledged as having a European character, from the point of view of its infrastructure, due to the fact that it is a cultural location and because of its European spirit.

The city was colonized after the middle of the 12th century by Saxon colonists coming from the Rhine –Mosselle territory, the first documentary mention occurring in 1191 under the name of Cibinium. Starting with 1366 the city changed its name to Hermannstadt and after 1919 the city’s name became Sibiu. For Sibiu, the medieval period represented an accelerated economic growth due to the guilds represented in the city, which were gradually replaced by manufacturing units and by small, but prosperous businesses.

At the end of the 12th century, Transylvania becomes the greatest principality within the Habsburg sibiuEmpire. Sibiu was the capital of this principality between the years 1692-1791 and 1850-1867. The military Commander of Transylvania relocated his headquarters in Sibiu in 1688 and remained here until November 7, 1918.

The historical center of Sibiu represents the greatest medieval urban ensemble in our country, with numerous very well-preserved remnants from that period, from public buildings and dwellings to defense walls and towers. Numerous elements from the four defense precincts of Sibiu have been preserved until the present. The first precinct was situated in the Huet Square, but only the Tower Passage and traces of the former walls found in the cellars of some houses have been preserved from this precinct. The second precinct still exists through the Council Tower and through the tower of the Goldsmiths’ Square.

2. Hike to Lake Balea. This is 2.5 hours by bus from the Global Youth Rising venue, so we will leave early and take a packed lunch. We will hike to the top of a hill so you need to bring hiking shoes and be in good physical shape.balea

Some information: Bâlea Lake is a glacier lake situated at 2,034 m of altitude in the Făgăraș Mountains, in central Romania, in Cârțișoara, Sibiu County. There are two chalets opened all the year round, a meteorological station and a mountain rescue station. It is accessible by car on the Transfăgărășan road during the summer, and the rest of the year by a cable car from the “Bâlea Cascadă” chalet.

Located in the heart of Fagaras Mountains – in the grand mountain complex of our Carpathian – Bâlea Lake area, is part of the natural reserve (180 ha) presents a typical glacial relief with moraines, terraces, valley -shaped “U” dominated by increases deep crown from which rises from the northeast to the southwest Vaiuga 2443 m peak , separated by Iezerul Caprei peak 2417 m, Şaua Caprei peak 2315 m, Paltinul peak 2398 m.

Supporting Young Peacebuilders – Spread the Word!

Have you ever thought about war and violence in the world and wished you could do something about it? Egypt-Women-Protest-Arab-Spring Have you watched the attacks in Syria, Iraq, Brussels, Paris and elsewhere and either felt powerless and saddened or felt ‘a better way’ needs to be found?

The International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising 2016 is about finding that better way. GYR 2016 is bringing together youth from communities and countries all over the world – many of them, like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Kosovo, Libya and Ukraine – deeply affected by violence and war.

We have launched a global crowdsourcing / crowdfunding appeal to raise support for incredible youth peace workers and activists working to overcome violence and war in their communities. These young peace workers and activists come from two groups:

– dedicated, incredible youth from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine working in the midst of war and conflict to build peace in their communities and working actively to bring an end to the wars in their countries. These are the focal countries for this years International Youth Peace Forum and we’re trying to raise support for 20 participants from these countries;

– incredible young peace workers from around the world – from across Africa, Central and Latin America, Asia and elsewhere. These are people who are already doing amazing work, and we’re trying to bring them together to help learn more from and with each other, and to help strengthen each other further with practical skills and deep training in peacebuilding, working to prevent armed conflict and violence, and reconciliation, healing and recovery after war.

We have already had some fantastic applications from dedicated young people from across the world, and with your help we might be able to help them join us this July. If you know anyone who can help, please spread the word!

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You can also reach us directly at if you’d like to speak to any in our team, receive more information or ask specific questions about the programme and support for young peace leaders.
Click here to support us today

For those supporting – thank you. Your contribution helping young and emerging peace leaders participate in the Forum can help change the lives of those taking part, but can also help directly contribute to ending the wars in their communities and countries. Thank you for being part of this, and for contributing to a real and necessary change.

All contributions will go through Works of Wonder International – one of the organising partners of the Global Youth Rising: International Youth Peace Forum 2016. 100% of each donation received will go directly to the Forum.

For those of you joining us in July, we are very excited – only a few weeks left to go!