”Inclusive society”, “social exclusion”, ”youth rights”, these are all words we are very used to hearing, words we nevertheless understand thoroughly, but they are also concepts we are very unaccustomed to actively or efficiently pursuing in our immediate realities. Because of how deep their meaning is, because of the uncountable obstacles that arise on our paths when fighting this battle, whether set by individuals or groups of individuals who are resistant to the changes that are urgently needed to follow.
In an effort to identify and share the challenges in the process of social inclusion and young people’s access to social rights in European urban and rural areas, to open us, Europeans, from all the corners of the continent, to sharing experiences, examples of good practices and existing mechanisms of social inclusion in young people’s local realities, to explore the European tools and policies for access to social rights and how they can be applied locally to promote access to them, to increase the capacity to advocate for improved access to social rights and last but not least to provide participants with the opportunity to create appropriate tools, adjustable to their respective local realities, Youth Express Network and Rural Youth Europe came together for the 3rd time and taught us about the importance of ”dreaming it loud” and pursuing it assiduously.
We were taken on an elaborate six-day journey, aimed at enclosing the multitude of facets that embody the vast topic that is ”social inclusion”. We started by building our team on Monday, continued with defining our terms and discussing good practices, tools and mechanism on Tuesday. On Wednesday we were given some mind bending examples of true activism and ”stubbornness” to carry on, during the visits we received and the visits we made ourselves to see people and places who refuse to take society`s no for an answer and give up this toughest of fights. Thursday we took part in the very creative workshops prepared by the organizers and on Friday we took our first steps into the creation of tools to bring home and consume in our challenging endeavors. Saturday was the day we drew our conclusions, a great day to enjoy the harvest of our joint effort, but also a sad day, to say good-bye to the beautiful pack of dreamers that arose from our ”struggle”.
Our journey was not long but it was arduous. For almost 7 days we were given the opportunity to grasp Utopia, a place where cooperation is capable of superseding any language barrier, and more importantly any cultural frontier we tend to sometimes build between each other. We learnt so much and we dreamt so far, each of us might be having a hard time readjusting to life outside of the land of no hate and eternal spiritual summer. But what we take with us is far more important than any momentary joy or sadness. It`s desire, no, need, to try our best in winning this battle.
(Text by Ioana Dudila who took part in the project Dream it loud: Build an inclusive society for rural and urban youth, 22 – 29th of May 2016, European Youth Center of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg)