International NGO "Youth to Youth Initiative" organized the first international brunch with a speaker on the topic of women's empowerment, addressing the issues of women's rights, women's empowerment and gender equality.
The event was held with the support of Ms. Michèle Vianès, President of the nonprofit "Regard de Femmes", who happen to be a great guest speaker and a specialist on female empowerment topic. Selected gender equality's activists, female rights advocates and community leaders had an opportunity to watch prepared by Ms. Michèle Vianès videos, introducing the topic. as well as to debate on gender challenges of today and tomorrow.
On the 31st of May a number of social activists from Lithuania (there were JCI Sostine, Demokratine Mokykla and Make Sense representatives as well as others) had a unique chance to participate in a discussion led by Tom Brennan. Our aim was to discuss the ways in which young people can contribute to peace building in our world.
During his exceptional presentation Tom touched upon many essential themes regarding peace building process and one of them was attaching labels to human beings that creates unnecessary barriers on our way to peaceful coexistence. Being affected by media and other factors we start to see people through their status, jobs, and qualifications instead of complex, irreducible and unbreakable entities.
By attaching labels to ourselves, we change our actions and attitudes as well as it creates a particular image how others see us and interact with us.
Different image creation separates individuals by creating normative and cultural differences and obstacles. For example, introducing oneself as a police officer instead of doing a police related job attaches this human being to his job. The same could be said about " I am tired" instead of "feeling tired". It is not a person who could be described as tired, he just feels that way for a particular amount of time. One core characteristic is that we are all human beings. In order to create a peaceful world we need to emphasize this similarity by avoiding artificially created obstacles.
Overall, it was a great discussion that gave me a new perspective on the world we all share and the ideas on how to make it more peaceful.
It was a clear and sunny day in Irvine (Southern California of USA) the perfect conditions for a brunch and opportunity to discuss the youth’s role in diplomacy.
Guest speaker Kevin Pham, PhD student of Political Science at the University of Riverside, was chosen to lead this discussion. Kevin began the conversation with defining to us what diplomacy was. Diplomacy, according to Kevin, is negotiation between two nations, two parties, or simply representing a group or idea in a positive light.
The discussion then evolved into a theme that was prevalent throughout the first Youth to Youth Summit, which was mastering internal peace before attempting external peace. I argued that one must find inner peace when their spiritual, mental, and physical needs are met. Mainly: food, shelter, and familial relationships. My colleague Leila argued that you also needed structural needs such as job and financial security.
She cited her work experience at a nonprofit organization called Lift, which helped Americans from communities of lower income find jobs to support their families. Kevin argued that these needs were not mutually exclusive, and that many concepts of dignity and recognition are tied in with both familial relationships, and the ability to have a job and provide for one’s self and one’s family. After sharing our ideas, we came to the agreement that these needs are all required to find inner peace.
The second topic was applying these theories on the international level, citing the conflict in Israel and Palestine as an example. This is actually how we all met each other, as we were all members of the Olive Tree Initiative in college, and had traveled to the Middle East as student diplomats. Kevin, who has attended multiple OTI trips, described to us his most recent experience in region this past summer. Where he described to us the uniqueness of this issue and how certain diplomatic efforts have failed and succeeded.
After discussing the issues in Israel and Palestine, we discussed conflict resolution and diplomacy in the work place. Kevin explained that in order for a third party individual to act diplomatically, whether in the work place or internationally, both individuals must be willing to transform the conflict. Lastly, after a delicious brunch combined with multiple cups of coffee and tea, we discussed the career opportunities that the youth has in diplomacy. While Kevin is a PhD student, he is also the alumni coordinator for the Olive Tree Initiative, and he is a personal mentor as well as resource for opportunity.
It was Kevin who actually showed me opportunitydesk.com, where I found the listing for the first Y2Y summit and applied. He provided Leila and myself with exceptional advice when it comes to applying for jobs. The first thing he told us was that we need to find what we want to do in diplomacy - whether that is human rights, conflict resolution, or cultural dialogue.
After we decide what we want to do, we must “market” ourselves to make us stand out from the rest of the applicants. We need to tell our story, why we care, and lastly, why we are suitable for the program we are applying to.