Donnerstag, Dezember 20, 2007
its presents time
Presents- a dear friend of mine said last Sunday, that she realises when she is in love with someone, how many presents she can think of for that person. I know the feeling very well – walking around and thinking: “my crush would loooove this”, “that is exactly what my flirt would laugh a lot about”, “oh, I must buy that for my dear!”, “yesterday we talked about it, I must download, print, order, make….”. And when things are settled I would have little presents and things to give all the time, when things are in a flirt stage, I already learned, that this is dangerous, as it scares people away.
But – there is a another category. There is no doubt that I love my family, though I have no clue what to give some of my dearest relatives as Christmas present. Lets take my Granny – I gave her candles, pictures of her loving granddaughter, decoration stuff, coffee-table books, fancy cooking equipment … but somehow … after table cloth and jewellery … she has everything she needs, she has no hobbies- no matter how much I love her, it is always difficult to get inspired on what to buy for her; and believe me, it is even more difficult with my Grandpa.
This year it is also very difficult with my mum. I spent more time with her this year then in the last decade, which means I had a lot of presents for her throughout the year; Audio books, fragrances, scarves, DVD’s, bath oils, travel guides, … so – after all these years of music, art supply, chinaware – I am totally uninspired this year.
Anyhow, the presents are assembled – now I just need to hope everyone likes them, despite a slight lack of muse.
Mittwoch, Dezember 19, 2007
nothing is certain
“Tell me about snow”, Moomintroll said and seated himself in the Moominpappa’s sun-bleached garden chair. “I don’t understand it.” “I don’t either”, said Too-ticky. “You believe it’s cold, but if you build yourself a snow house it’s warm. You think it’s white, but at times it looks like pink and at other times it’s blue. It can be softer than anything and then again harder than stone. Nothing is certain.”
as time goes by
I have spent the whole day in trying to muck out my room. Going through old pictures, postcards, souvenirs and maps from long passed travels, note books of meetings I attended in the last millennium, all these handwritten letters form people who had an enormous influence on who I am today. Old birthday wishes and presents, feedback letters from events and seminars. It made me think about time a lot.
Our life is like a symphony; every note just makes sense because of the note that was played before and the note that will be played after. I enjoyed a lot of wonderful melodies this afternoon. Reading those old letters, or even just looking at the addressor of the letters was enough to think of old stories, long gone laughter and tears, made me feels the heaviness of some moments and the lightness of others. Seeing which dreams I had when I moved to Vienna almost 10 years ago, seeing what concerns and worries my friends had then. It was like looking at places that I do not pay much attention to at the moment, and whilst doing so I was also taking time for myself, which got rather rare lately.
It made me want to meet people that I used to love, that I trusted, that formed my character. There were pictures that made me feel old and there were lines I read that made me feel immature, I remembered games that I used to play a lot with friends who I used to live with.
Some mail, that according to the postal stamp was sent seven year ago, seemed only two minutes away. I read poems that I wrote as a teenager and it was stunning how some of them made my intestines hurt and others made me giggle!
Montag, Dezember 17, 2007
The only things I did during this weekend were cooking, baking, eating, drinking, talking, talking, and talking (and actually also quit a bit of sleeping). I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends, to invite them to my newly cleaned home, to be a good host. It was really refreshing, it was simply - splendid.
Friends increase the joy of life and even when I feel lonely a thought of them makes me feel safe. Friends are important to reduce my stress and therefore improve my health. When I am with good friends I feel good about myself, and I am glad to be with them, I watch myself and smile. Liking, trusting and respecting each other is mutual, even if we do not always understand each other, we always accept one another, be fond of one another, even as we all grow and change (well, no worries, we will always remain childish, we might not be as cool as we would like to see each other, but … well… who cares about coolness, and sure S., you are still by far the coolest, no doubt)
Friends give the space and support to change, grow, make decisions, and even make mistakes, friends listens to you and share with you, both the good times and the bad times, friends are not judgemental even if they like to tease (at this point it is important to note that I never ever stole any towels).
Friends have often helped me to go beyond me self-defined limitations and showed me the way to be and do more than I ever thought I could and they allowed me to do the same for them.
My End-of-the-year-melancholy is getting stronger and stronger but it makes me embrace and cherish all the exiting things I am allowed to go through, makes me feel how much love and care is around me and makes me look forward to spend more time with the people I love! Some of them are only now coming home from their work and education places abroad and I am all exited to see them soon again!
Donnerstag, Dezember 13, 2007
its a miracle...
...the miracle of the flying pig
Everywhere I go – I see pigs with wings. On cards, in toy stores, at Christmas markets. Does anyone of you know a myth, fairytale, a legend, or a romance with a flying pig? I would be really interested to figure out why so many pigs have wings!
Mittwoch, Dezember 12, 2007
almost over now
The year is almost over and I have seen the most amazing things, I have experienced the most rewarding moments, have had fun and laughter, I was afraid and scared, I felt so much love and often the pleasures of success. It was indeed a great year that made me see many people and places I have not seen before, I have the luck to go to Asia – both Korea and China, I was able to be the first time in my life in Macedonia, I took part in a conference in Sharm el sheikh and did some snorkelling, I have seen wonderful nostalgia in the Ukraine. I learned ever more who are my true friends, I found new friends. One full year as the president of the European Youth Forum, humble but proud. Now I am tired. I have to admit all I want at the moment is that the rain in Vienna stops, that it starts to snow and that my own personal Christmas peace is starting. Yes, see this as an outing, I am a declared Christmas fan. I love spending the time with my family, I love snow at the Austrian country side (it does not make much sense in Vienna though), I love finally spending some time with friends, cooking, baking, writing letters to loved ones, reading books, hearing the ever same Christmas songs (and indeed, last Christmas I got my heart broken, lets see if this year I will give it to someone special). One of my new years resolutions is already clear now, I will try to be much more frequent and up to date with the blog again! Thank you for the wonderful and intense year.
Dienstag, Dezember 11, 2007
message to ther heads of states
It is impossible to describe a process that lasted over a year and that was based on 5 regional consultations in Africa and Europe including the African Diaspora. Henceforth I will share the 3 key elements of our work that are the basis for all our recommendations, the 3 elements are:
What can we, as youth organisations offer?
What are the basic requirements we have?
What are we asking from you?
Youth organisations offer an outreach and multiplying effect and therefore play a key role in reducing the gap between where decisions are made and where they are implemented. We are engaged in opening up political processes at all levels, and making them accessible to young people. Our wish and ability is to contribute with a spirit of enquiry, new thinking and competence. While the list of problems that need to be tackled continues to grow, the willingness and enthusiasm of young people to contribute to the global partnership for development remains unbroken.
The basic requirement for this work is more support. True cooperation between African and European youth needs a reliable framework, needs programmes to support both – people to people exchange and political coordination. If we want to make sure the concerns and challenges of young people are addressed it needs to be possible that youth organisations can meet and work with each other. It is indispensable that young people are heard and listened to in policy development. Youth organisations need to be partners when policies are defined, implemented, monitored and evaluated.
Therefore it is essential that you life up to the targets you have already set for your countries. The slow and delayed progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals is, frankly speaking, a major disappointment for all, and particularly, for the youth of the world: this failure in acting to solve humanity’s most agonising problems is unsatisfactory and dangerous. In addition it is high time that the European Youth Pact is implemented at all levels and the African Youth Charter is ratified by ever more states. We hope the Africa – EU strategy will be a tool to support the attainment of existing commitments.
Dear Excellencies - let me conclude:
It is imperative to cooperate with youth organisations.
It is fundamental to have more and better youth exchanges.
It is indispensable that you fulfil your own promises.
Closing Africa-Europe Youth Summit
I am not satisfied with the world as it is today. This is my main motivation for political activism and I am sure I share this with many of you. Wealth is distributed very unevenly; hunger, poverty, disease and conflict lay their shadow over many regions and millions of young people like you and me.
The problems faced by many countries are multiple, entrenched and passed down across decades and generations. To break such enduring cycles of adversity, urgent and long-term action is needed, allowing people and countries to realise their potential.
Many public authorities and institutions still fail to provide adequate answers to severe human rights violations and hardship. We believe that we must hold decision makers accountable for their actions and their lack of action.
Global problems must be solved by pooling sovereignty and setting up a framework of mutually accepted tools and programmes- I hope the Africa – EU strategy will serve as such a tool.
Respect for the rule of law, pluralist democracy, the protection of rights, fighting corruption and promoting good governance and equality – these are all essentials for sustainable development. Through the youth summit we have committed ourselves, to maintain transparent and accountable decision-making in our own organisations, to ensure our organisations act as true schools for democracy, and to guarantee our legitimacy to ask the same from governments.
The crackdown on immigrants is probably the most shameful of the European policies of recent years. It is illusionary to believe that the stream of immigrants trying to enter Europe can be halted by increasingly excessive regulations: Policies relying on violent deterrence will only raise the death toll, but won’t stop immigration.
The EU Common Agricultural Policy requires further reform - urgently. This is not only indispensable for larger investments in development cooperation, but it must also be the basis for just trade relations with Africa.
This 1st youth Summit was a good example of cooperation between Africa and Europe and it needs to continue. Let me thank and congratulate everyone who has contributed to its success (DG EAC, DG Sanco, North-South Centre of CoE, the Portuguese government and CNJ and especially all the volunteers who made our stay here so easy). Youth empowerment, exchange programmes, scholarships, job shadowing, volunteering, non formal and formal education are just some areas where Euro-African Youth cooperation needs to be strengthened. This deserves a strong Africa-Europe youth programme.
A participant said at the first day that declarations have never changed the world, but if we all work together on the basis of this declaration, then we actually can change the world. 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 exercise was only about nice phrases and lip service. The relevant question is - are we going to live up to what we discuss here? Will we advocate for its implementation?
Politicians are usually excellent in giving statements of intent, but often fail to deliver practical steps to achieve them. They have a bad habit of missing their own targets. This mismatch has to be altered.
Your multitude of experiences, realities and identities - African – Diaspora – European - has to be one of the main contributions to the follow up of the youth summit. But for this you have to take your experience and knowledge from here home with you and continue working – it is your responsibility to multiply the conclusions of this Summit and to operationalise them, to implement them. Otherwise this event will just remain one gathering amongst many.
We young people have to cling onto long held visions of Human Rights, Democracy, and Development. The political culture of mistrust and fear, and of protecting one’ own wealth rather then improving the collective well-being, must be overcome if we want to improve everyone’s Rights and Opportunities.
This is going to be a long way, but we will be on this way together.
So persistent – and let me quote Ghandi - be the change you want to see in the world.
Opening Africa-Europe Youth Summit
Safaris, drowning migrants, starving children, or refugee camps – the images of Africa that feature in European media are not very diverse. The most common images are even hostile, violent, a little exotic and they often portray poverty. At the moment, many people are preparing for Christmas or Hanukah - it’s the season for giving, and sadly, lots of charities play on, and reinforce, such simplistic images to increase donations. So what is the difference between all the individual financial assistance that will be donated over the coming weeks and our event here?
We are here with the aim to change political structures; we are here to improve the situation not simply with a one-off act of charity but by committing to longer term cooperation, in a spirit of team work and mutual respect – and it is on these principles that the entire African-Europe Youth Summit process was founded.
We all know that things will not change if we are all just a little bit nicer to each other or like each other a little more – co-development means development as a process by which economic and societal problems are solved by implementing a systematic and well-defined change process; an approach to addressing issues and solving problems through programmes that are developed together, and not imposed on one another.
We are here as political actors with a mandate from our constituencies or our regional consultations, and we will have a say on sustainable progress. Young people had to wait for seven years for the long promised meeting between the Heads of State of the African Union and the European Union to take place and we certainly hope that these meetings will henceforth take place every third year, as promised in the Cairo Declaration.
The Council of Europe is the foremost guardian of Human Rights in Europe, and the European Union has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, remaining proud of its achievements as a project to bring peace to a troubled continent. We- the young people - are convinced that development needs peace. If the EU and the CoE are truly interested in promoting Africa’s development, European states must not profit from weapons trading and from unjust trade relations.
Many children learn that children need to ‘shut up and listen’ when adults talk; if they don't, they will be punished. Luckily, such ideas garner less and less support. Yet, when it comes to development cooperation, this approach can still sometimes be seen. When the industrialised and ‘grown-up’ nations talk, less developed countries have to listen; they then have to follow orders, and if not, they will be punished. We are convinced that co-development means that no one need be quiet, everyone needs to listen, and no one should be punished. Development will only be sustainable through cooperation, and this Summit is an important step in the right direction.
Most of us here were born in the 1970s and 1980s – so we did not experience the colonial ties of our countries, this should be a good starting point for a rebirth of a just cooperation between our continents. Africa is on the move and we must be agents of change.
While the list of problems that need to be tackled continues to grow, the willingness and enthusiasm of young people to contribute to the global partnership for development remains unbroken. Africans and Europeans must work together to find political solutions for mass migration, conflict, hunger, poverty, disease, illiteracy, water shortages and environmental degradation, and as such, I wish us all a lot of success for this Summit and the plentiful action to follow.