Donnerstag, September 28, 2006


youth and students

I have just successfully finished a meeting. It was the longest title that I have ever seen for a meeting. It was called “Ad hoc committee of experts for a possible framework convention on Human Rights Education (HRE) and Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC)” There you go, a real tongue twister. It was organised by the directorate of Education and after working for quite a while now in the youth sector it was amazing to see how far education and youth are from each other. Not being aware of processes and developments in the respective other work area. Though the people talked about are the same, as still the vast majority of people being in education are young people. It almost seemed as we are talking about 2 different kinds of citizens at times, students and youth.

Dienstag, September 26, 2006


my motivation

After two years of intensive work in the Bureau of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) as a Vice-President, and as a result of long and careful consideration, I have decided to run for President of the Forum. With this letter, I would like to outline my motivation and why I think that I am capable and qualified to fulfil this challenging task.

I have been active in politics since my early teenage years; being involved in participation projects at the local level, representing school student and university student organisations, engaging in local council work and on several other active citizenship projects.

The decision to run for President is not one I am taking impulsively, but rather it is tied to my conviction that we have to fight and negotiate if we want to change something and that such fights are only possible when we are organised and work together. Standing for this post is just consequent to what I believe in and a continuation of my previous engagement.

Two years are barely enough to understand fully the complexity of our platform; to identify the structural elements that sometimes lead us towards success and at other times determine our failure to achieve our aims.

Despite its intricacy I truly understand the ethos of a membership association: the complex and sophisticated ways in which decisions must be made; the spirit of service to members; the role of the Bureau in supporting members and decision-making processes while pushing forward key issues, including members’ needs, in our daily work; and the importance of cultivating partnerships with other associations and key players within and outside the platform.

Europe’s youth needs an influential YFJ, one that represents young peoples’ interests, supports the members work nationally, and progressively shapes the world in which we live, study and work.

I am standing to unlock the YFJ’s enormous potential through strong youth representation, active campaigns and by further developing the platform; that involves all sections of our membership.

I commit to ensuring that you are consulted every stage, that decisions made are reflective of the organisation and that the membership is kept in the loop at all times. I aim to be a President that will continue to open up internal democracy and increase involvement, facilitating campaigns and leading on policy. My experience and record as a Vice-President coupled with my energy and focus make me a candidate that can drive our YFJ forward.

My zest for life and sincere character will help me to achieve ambitious goals, just like the Mahatma Gandhi quote that is used for the “All different – all equal” campaign states - “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Making the world a better place even on a small scale is a long-standing aim of mine.

Leading the team:

I am convinced that nothing is more exciting than brainstorming with a group of talented, creative people and seeing a project take shape! I am looking forward with experience, ideas, understanding, dedication and ability to work with a diverse team full of strong-minded people.

My sense of teamwork is strong. My ability to communicate and work closely with others has grown over the years. I noticed once again how important team building is and how it makes all other work more smooth and efficient at the same time.

Through strong planning skills I am particularly adept at recognising possible problems, and can deftly create contingency plans to manage the situation. As a creative problem solver who values useful ideas that work efficiently toward well-defined goals I will strive to implement the objectives set by the members.

My ability to communicate with others and readily understand people's needs provides me with the insight to resolve possible conflicts and misunderstandings. My high sense of responsibility and attention to detail equips me with the ability to solve crunches – without loosing the capability to see the big picture. I am adept at assessing and maximizing the talent of those around me. With my contagious enthusiasm I intend to inspire and to encourage others; team building is the foundation of all interactions
My loyalty and comprehension of group dynamics make me a team player that values cooperation and the tremendous resource every Bureau member can bring to the YFJ. Over the years I have learned how to tackle and solve problems as well as to be frank but considerate with feedback to people with whom I work.

Still, I will never forget to enjoy my work for the YFJ, like Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”

One of the most important tasks for a President is, I believe, coordinating and motivating the competent people engaged in our work and removing obstacles to their cooperation. I hope that I will be able to act as a member of the team as much as possible, but I will not hesitate to take on a leading role when necessary.

I will aim to create an atmosphere of trust and openness, where everyone’s capabilities and aspirations are put to the best possible use. Over the last two years, I have had to learn not to get too deeply involved in every single issue that the YFJ works on, and the lesson has been quite clear: a distinct task division, good internal communication and trust are key elements to making the many qualified people active in the YFJ work together in the most productive way. I am committed to doing my utmost to achieve this as a leader of the new YFJ team.

External representation:
As a Vice-President, I have represented the YFJ at several major events such as Ministers conferences of the Council of Europe or the European Union and a wider range of symposia, conferences, seminars and other summits. Being a pragmatic, focused, driven and dynamic person, my power of persuasion has helped me to communicate YFJ positions effectively. I am an outspoken proponent of the YFJ’s policies as well as a confident and vivacious public speaker. Imperturbability and self-confidence help me to tackle new situations, speak in public or react fast in unknown situations, which has given me the opportunity to focus my energy at various gatherings on the agreed aims and objectives vital to the Youth Forum

Wherever I am, I will try to raise the YFJ’s profile - be it through articles, by word of mouth or by presenting our ideas, visions and policies. Not only amongst the ‘usual suspects’ and partner organisations, where the YFJ has to maintain, and indeed strengthen, good co-operation, but also amongst other public interest groups and European based or youth focused organisations.

There are a number of areas where recognition of the YFJ must be improved to reflect the knowledge and level of representation that we have acquired, and to allow true youth mainstreaming to prevail. Together with you, I will work to make the YFJ and its members more known to institutional partners, national agencies and governments. Special attention needs to be given to working with the media, both national – in cooperation with the membership – and the emerging European media.

Structural changes:
In the spirit of Marie Curie “One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.” I have to admit that I am proud that the Bureau can present to you, at this General Assembly, a well-balanced proposal for strategic development. My strong involvement in this process over more than a year has been a key motivation to continue my commitment to the YFJ; having read so many contributions from the members and having tried to synthesise them into one proposal makes me want to lead through the implementation of this strategy. I wholeheartedly believe that the new priority work areas will help us to mobilise our resources in the best possible manner whilst still keeping the character of a diverse youth platform.

Asking the right questions and scrutinizing systems and procedures to ensure accurate and efficient results in implementing our aims is indispensable. Having contributed to the development of this 5-year strategic plan for the YFJ it is crucial to remain conscious that this is just a starting point to realising the vision and ambitions at the centre of the strategic development of the YFJ. Further steps, such as developing a monitoring and evaluation mechanism, are still needed. It is essential that a President has the skills and the drive to implement a practical and workable change, directed by the members, and if necessary, to adapt the internal structures to do so. We will also have to create synergies with other actors that can allow us to enter into contact with different forms of participation to accomplish our ambitions.

Paying due respect to the diversity of Members Organisations and therefore really being able to meet your needs, is essential for any President, and as such, I will remain approachable during YFJ and other events and will ensure close contact with the members between events.

The YFJ has always been a platform for discussion and information as well as for the exchange of experience, and of good and bad practice: I will try to further fruitful communication amongst the members.

Equal participation has to be at the centre of the YFJ’s internal efforts. This concerns equality between Member Organisations in terms of access to information and means of participation, as well as with regards to issues of equal opportunities within YFJ structures - such as the meetings of statutory bodies and other working structures. The YFJ must make sure that everyone can participate to the fullest extent possible: a Member Organisation with no full-time staff must have the possibility to follow the YFJ’s work and policy discussions and the YFJ needs to provide materials in digestible form for members who cannot commit to collecting all relevant information themselves.

Additionally the YFJ needs to be conscious of the internal atmosphere at meetings and in its structures, as exclusion happens easily and is sometimes hard to notice unless specific attention is drawn to it.

When it comes to the inclusion of so called “unorganised youth” and marginalised youth we need to be confident about and share good practice amongst each other, but also aim to enhance permanently our work. We need to be balanced in our level of self-confidence and self-criticism; a good combination of the two will allow us to improve where necessary and to stand firmly against our detractors.

My skills and work ethos:
I am a true social person with a compassionate nature, and I find it easy to relate to others through my understanding of interpersonal dynamics. Meeting new people at YFJ events has always been a enjoyable part of my work over the last years, and I feel I am good at networking and learning about other peoples ideas and opinions - a great help at the international level, where you often have very limited time to meet people.

Exploring new ideas and understanding the world around us is a constant and exciting challenge. With diplomacy, honesty, and very strong persuasive skills, as well as through conscientiousness and reliability, I will try to contribute to the YFJ’s success.

I have learned to cope with stressful situations by prioritising and concentrating on important and urgent duties. I can handle complex tasks and enjoy having some diversity in the work to keep my mind stimulated. My work ethic is unwavering, responsible, dependable, and dutiful, not letting superficiality cloud my judgement, and threaten my convictions. In such a way, I seek to remain true to myself, and put a common goal beyond short-term gains.

As an organised person, work is a very high priority in my life, and I have a careful attitude towards making decisions - thinking them through carefully by trying to put myself in other people’s shoes. I am open and free minded, yet grounded in the things that really matter - such as freedom, justice, equality and democracy. My strong desire to create a society where citizens can develop themselves as much as possible, and my experience in training and facilitation, leads to the fact that I enjoy to work closely with the members.

Through my knowledge of the organisation, my enthusiasm and commitment, I can contribute to the YFJ’s development. Yet, I will never stop learning, understanding its value to strong leadership.

Meeting the challenge:
Youth has always been at the front line of social change, and through coming together as the Youth Forum, we are aiming to be the guardians, promoters and multipliers of the principles of Youth Participation, Human rights and dignity, as well as social cohesion and the emancipating power of education.

The mainstream media continually portrays an image of young people as passive and apathetic. This is a simplistic view, and not reflective of our true diversity, potential and passion; yet we need to be provided with the means and the space to use our ideas and our energy constructively. The YFJ has to be a place of youth empowerment.

Being the President of the YFJ is an exiting and challenging task and I want to take the chance to run for this exceptional position. In this spirit I would be glad to have your support at the General Assembly in Lithuania.

Montag, September 25, 2006



Samstag, September 23, 2006


new words

invigorate :-)


opening address

Dear Ladies and Gentleman,

The European Youth forum is an umbrella organisation of almost 100 National youth councils and International Non-governmental youth organisations. Representing our members interests means that in this campaign we have to show where fundamental Human rights of young people in Europe are violated today.
This means that I am the Turkish boy in Germany, I am the Roma in Slovakia, I am the Lesbian in Russia, I am the Muslim in the Netherlands, I am the blind person in Bulgaria, I am the teenage mum in the Uk, I am the unemployed in Portugal and I am the Human Rights activist in Belarus.
This is the diversity of our membership and this is the diversity that we want to celebrate with this campaign.

This Event is the first European wide activity of the “all different – all equal” for diversity, Human Rights and participation campaign and it could be a historic meeting. There are almost 300 people from the Russian civil society here and around 100 people from other European countries. For a country that has been repeatedly in the media for Human Rights violations holding this event is a courageous step. If we all together here dare to discuss issues that make young people in Europe scared, that make us violent or depressed, then we can make a change.

Final declarations have never changed the world, but we all together here, we can. This meeting will indeed be a historic one, if our conclusions will actually be implemented, will become alive and relevant. It will not change anything if this is about nice phrases and lip service. The relevant question is - are we going to live up to what we discuss here? Will this be a platform for discussions with impact?

To achieve something we have to address difficult challenges for Europe today. But we also have to challenge our own stereotypes – our internalised Racisms, our own homophobia, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, our daily Sexism. I sincerely believe that we need to use this opportunity to question our own preconceptions and scrutinize the systems that we are living in.

I am confident that the workshop time can be used for this but I can only remind all of us, that the work for diversity, Human Rights and participation does not stop once the workshops end. There is no specific time of the day where discriminations happen and where people are excluded and equally so we have to stand up for Human dignity and social inclusion all the time. Please use the coffee breaks and the evenings as well as the workshops to share experience and to confront yourself with your own simplistic assumptions and dare to raise critical questions.

This campaign is not putting a hierarchy in discrimination, it points out clearly that any acceptance of humiliation must be eradicated. Non of our governments represents equally the people living in the given country, active participation and a vital civil society will be the first step to change this imbalance. Seeing so many engaged and motivated people here gives me the inspiration to continue working for social change and the trust that this change can happen.

In 10 years time – when we remember this campaign
Will security arguments still limit the freedom of assembly and freedom of movement?
Will a young gay still be too scared to come out in school?
Will people still be hostile because someone has a dark skin?
Will it still be impossible to use the underground with a wheel chair?
Will being a woman still be responsible for a lower income?
Will being Muslim still be equalled with being a terrorist?

We do not know jet. In fact I think no one of us knows the answer. There is a lot of work ahead of us, so lets start working.

Donnerstag, September 21, 2006


Youth Event

Arrival day in St. Petersburg; it is a wonderful, sunny autumn day and the city shows the best sides of its glorious days. The hotel is right next to the ocean and the restaurant on the 15th floor allows the view till the horizon where the sun is just setting down! Quite some interesting papers from researchers in the welcome packs for the participants. Curious how the conference will go.

Mittwoch, September 20, 2006



A painting of 5000 square meters is currently covering a Viennese office building. The Painting “Don Giovanni” from Christian Ludwig Attersee is covering 3 sides of the “Ringturm” and therefore the biggest painting ever, its height is 65 meter. It is really amazing especially in the late autumn sun.

Dienstag, September 19, 2006


pirates of penzing

I already wrote before about the kids parliament that I am involved in. the kids always wanted a pirate ship in one of our parks, though it was finished some weeks ago already, I saw it first time during a “day of the child” activity last week. And I have to admit that I was really fascinated by it, so many things that you can climb on and hide it that I had quite some infantile regressions.



I spent the weekend in Oslo. Apart from the fact that I really like the clean and calm atmosphere in Nordic cities, which are also never that big, the weather decided to show us its sunny side. I had to opportunity to go twice to the roof terrace of the ministry of Education where you can really oversee the whole town; I had dinner on the harbour, walks through the city centre. But the most impressive experience was for sure the “Vorspiel” at a friends place. “Vorspiel” is meeting at someone’s place to get drunk already before going out, as no one can even think of affording to get drunk paying drinks in bars. Out “Vorspiel” turned into a party with 70 people in a fully furnished apartment and a dance floor in the bedroom of the host of the party. It was really a very cosy atmosphere and luckily there were smoking balconies.
Also the meeting generally went rather smooth, trying not to focus on the usual unpunctuality of a European activity, we had enough time to address all the matters that we planned to discuss and found unanimous conclusions. The careful considerations of our hosts to make all social parts a nice group experience, from coffee breaks prepared with love and sliced fruits to the house party, made also the formal meeting run really smooth!

The Oslo City Hall is situated in the city center within walking distance of the Royal Palace and the Parliament building. Located on the waterfront, overlooking the bay of the Oslo fjord, the City Hall reflects the historic role of Oslo as the capital of a seafaring nation. The occupation of Norway in 1940-45 delayed completion of the building. The formal inauguration took place on Oslo Day, 15 May 1950, simultaneously with the celebration of the 900th anniversary of the founding of the city of Oslo.

Sonntag, September 10, 2006



The International Day of the Child is celebrated every year on November 20, the day on which the UN General Assembly first adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Austria is different; we always have our “world children day” on the second weekend in September. Guess it should help the kids to get over the fact that holidays are over.

Mittwoch, September 06, 2006


last days of summer

For me summer usually starts when I start sleeping with an open window. This also means that I start hearing all the noises that my neighbours make. My bedroom window goes to the inner courtyard and as I live on the 1st floor only; I can hear all the kids playing in the areaway and the yard. Several houses with lots of corners compose this whole inner courtyard. There are some sounds where I have no clue where they are coming from. The easy ones are the kids playing ball, the people that beat their rugs or bring their litter to the collection. Every night at midnight there is an alarm clock ringing and 10 minutes later a motorbike departs, I still wonder what kind of job this person might have. Or the lawn sprinklers, actually a relatively unexciting sound, till those f… things hit the metal benches in this little park and start making a tremendously loud concert. Every Friday the garbage collectors come at around 7am to empty the litter boxes. Sometimes I hear people getting passionate with lots uuus oooos and aaas. I have a neighbour who is totally into folkloristic Balkans music and a guy that sings. I am still not sure if the singer is trying to be a tenor or just singing prayers in Hebrew.
This summer was special; one of the houses linked to the inner courtyard is under renovation. The construction workers start their work at the inhumane hour of 6:30 am, and guess what they start their shift with – with a CIRCULAR SAW!!!!! So for nearly 8 weeks I have been woken up at 6:30 am – an hour that is not even supposed to exist – by a circular saw. Which also announced to me that almost exactly half an hour later the kids would be downstairs playing, as they were woken up by this diabolic apparatus as well. This was especially problematic during July, where it was definitely too hot to close the window.
Now school started in Vienna again which means that the kids are not playing in the mornings anymore – all that remains in my last days of summer is the soul-destroying sound of the circular saw.

Freitag, September 01, 2006


10 years of youth forum in its current form

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