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At YO!Fest, I learned that diversity is the most exciting thing about life'

Sarah Farndale

Sarah lives in Brussels and is communications coordinator at the European Youth Forum where she also edits YO!Mag. Sarah was previously working in the UK dealing with media relations for a large NGO and in the civil service.

Sitting in front of my laptop in Tbilisi, Georgia more than a month after the YO!Fest, I go through my previous articles published as a YO!Mag correspondent from May 20-21, in hope of inspiration.

After recollecting the tips from the staff meeting a day before the event, reading carefully all the notes from the variety of events from the YO!Village, listening to the speakerai??i??s comments I had recorded, enjoying the photos from the thematic hubs – I just close my eyes to feel again what I felt standing in the middle of Strasbourg, France, among young people from across the world fighting for their political, social and just human rights.

When the new UN Security Council resolution #2250 on Youth, Peace and Security was adopted, I emphasized the importance of young peopleai??i??s active participation at various decision-making levels – to make their voices heard not only in their homes and classrooms, but outside: in front of the Parliament buildings. As I think about the thousands of young people aged between 16-30 who attended the European Youth Event, coming fromAi??all 28 European Union member states and beyond, I think the first important steps have been made.

Across the six thematic hubs, WarAi??and Peace, Apathy or Participation, Exclusion or Access, Stagnation or Innovation, Collapse or Success and Health & well-being, young people observed, listened, spoke up and exchanged opinions, criticism and aspirations on how to make things work in a way that benefits all members of the community. Equally.

We all come from different social, political, economic, cultural and religious backgrounds; we all have our own beliefs and prejudices; we all believe that all we do is right and others should follow, butai??i??

At one of the activities we played roles. I was a homosexual boy of Muslim origin who was bullied by a boy who was now a friend of the boy who previously bullied himai??i?? Not quite clear, right? Yes, this is how it happens everywhere in real life. We can all be bullied. And then we can all bully. This mainly happens when we forget one general truth: that people are different. The very moment someone spots you are ai???not quite normalai??i??, public bullying is underway.

You become the constant target of those ai???cool guysai??i??, both girls and boys from various backgrounds, trying their best to demolish you due to their stereotypical attitude to life. We are not born offenders, but we become ones, for example, while looking at domestic violence in our families in a male-dominated world full of homophobic, transphobic and something-phobic older generations, who pass their hatred on.

Playing the role of a gay Muslim boy, I did my best to prove why I am not worse than any of my virtual classmates bullying me in the middle of the school, having just moved from another part of the world (where I felt very much at home) to a new community.

This was a role-play that we, the participants of the ai???gameai??i??, could drive the way we felt was better for all the members of that ai???closed circleai??i?? ai??i?? the offenders and their target. And we did come to happy end where the bullies looked deep inside their hearts and realised that the boy was one of them. And no less than any of them.

Returning back home I kept thinking about what it is like to feel different from those who live around us. Why do people treat others as inferiors just because they donai??i??t look like them? I promised myself that I would never in my life judge others for what they are. Because, yes, maybe they look different, have different perceptions, believe in different things, see the world in a different way to me but we are all equal and this is the most exciting thing about life ai??i?? there are so many differences that make no difference.

More than a month after my French trip, I believe that those two days at the YO!Village were a bridge for us – the youth from different countries. It was the bridge on the virtual map, where we made steps toward one another to hold our hands up and speak up ai??i?? ai???yes, together we can change! ai??? liquid viagra for women. order sildenafil, Paroxetine for sale, buy clomid. order lioresal.'

Sarah Farndale

Sarah lives in Brussels and is communications coordinator at the European Youth Forum where she also edits YO!Mag. Sarah was previously working in the UK dealing with media relations for a large NGO and in the civil service.

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