Friday was the last day of the 1st pilot edition of the European Academy on Youth Work. If we explain the EAYW as the beginning of a new story in the youth work field, one of its key content elements would be the research before the event, during the event and after. And this research plays an extremely important role. We have learnt about some of the findings in the morning when Dr. Theo Gavrielides presented to us the preliminary results based on our contributions and reflections during the event. The need for quality over quantity, trends of digitalization, engaging communities, overbearing administration, relearning the knowledge of the past and adapting it to youth work were just some of the notions we have generated together… He invited us to use this event as a platform to push things forward! At a later stage, we will be able to access the full research, which is planned to be finalized after the event.

And the story of EAYW also has a frame, a history and herstory,, which unfolded before the event actually took place, and it already has some possible scenarios for the future. Sonja Mitter, main organizer of the event,  the Hudson tower of the EAYW 🙂 as Janez Škulj described her, told us, this is not just an event,  it’s a long term project which aims to bring people together that have the experience to contribute. The event will produce findings which will be sent to key stakeholders, influence the next European Youth Work Convention and hopefully also the European Youth Work Agenda. The findings will also contribute to defining the long term perspective and the sustainability of the story initiated by the EAYW.

There are many protagonists in the story of the EAYW. In the panel, we could explore the thoughts on the future of the EAYW by the director of the Lithuanian National Agency, Guoda Lomanaite, and she invited us to give more space to voices of different sectors outside of youth work, and to youth work and policy. Janez Škulj, president of the governing body of MOVIT, expressed the need to put the EAYW on the map, although the map itself is also something we are creating along the way. And the need of developing the identity of the Academy.

Davide Capecchi from the Partnership between the CoE and EU in the field of youth, said, the future should focus on connecting policy, practice and research even more in order to develop knowledge and enable dialogue. Formal recognition of youth work also needs to be part of the story. So protagonists are also formal institutions; ministries, universities and schools. Uwe Finke-Timpe presented the voice of the ministries on the panel (Unit for European and international youth policy, Germany). He promised that the results of the EAYW will feed into the next European Youth Work Convention and that youth work will be a big part of the German EU presidency. Protagonists are also European youth organizations, the European Youth Forum being one of them. Loes Rutten, board member of the EYF, described the work of the EYF and the importance of not forgetting the young people themselves along the way and the importance of voluntary work in youth led activities. Involving young people themselves in the story. They are the most important protagonists after all, not merely a target group.

Many stakeholders, so many protagonists of our new story of the EAYW, a lot of them not mentioned. The most important ones, youth and youth workers. A fact we must not forget while continuing the cocreation of the story. In the world of unequal power distribution, the one who is listened to and whose stories are told is often the one who has the money and decision making power. Creating awareness about this fact will help us create multiple stories, diverse stories, of shared responsibility and with presence of multiple voices.

The day ended with a short reflection on the process of the EAYW. We expressed what a trendy story we are creating, which connects various pieces of youth work into one picture. The EAYW storybook is actually a collection of diverse youth work stories put into one encyclopedia with a common title and hopefully common values. The realization was in the air, that we are all already doing a lot of good and we need to build on that together, with curiosity, humility and sincere intention to address the issues the world is facing and youth in it. And transformation which we mentioned many times on the event is yet to come, because, in its essence it is never pleasant at the beginning, since it means letting go old patterns and creating something new which is at this point still unknown and its completely ok if we do not know yet what exactly this new is…The process will bring us there together!

Part one of EAYW story ended. Many more parts to come. Thank you everyone for your participation, contribution and exploration. 

Tina Trdin