Miroslav Polzer, secretary general of IAAI participated as workshop facilitator at 1st UN Alliance of Civilizations Summer School in Aveiro
Miroslav Polzer, secretary general of IAAI participated as workshop facilitator at 1st UN Alliance of Civilizations Summer School in Aveiro where he led two workshops – one on “Climate Change, Global Citizenship Ethics and the Role of Intercultural Dialogue” and one on Establishing Links between Youth Organizations and Entertainment Industries/Celebrities/VIPs for the Effective Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue and Global Understanding (see attached the introductory presentations made at the workshop by Mr. Polzer).
The first UNAOC Summer School, which took place on the campus of the University of Aveiro, Portugal, from August 15 to 21, concluded with the utmost success and impact on its 110 young participants from 44 countries around the world.
Under the theme “Bridging Hearts, Opening Minds and Doing Things Together”, the aim of this UNAOC Summer School was to bring together young people to enhance their knowledge and reinforce their ability to communicate across difference, interact with the “other”, and look at diversity as an asset for cross-fertilization. This course was a week-long programme using a variety of educational approaches such as methodological and political inputs, small group discussions, peer-led workshops, visits to religious sites, etc. Themes such as multiple identities, globalization, the role of media in breaking or reinforcing stereotypes, human rights and diplomacy, etc. were explored thanks to the contribution of several regional and international experts who came to Aveiro to share their thoughts and have dynamic discussions with young participants.
“This Summer School illustrates the global scope of the Alliance and its capacity to bring together people from virtually all regions, cultures, religions and walks of life” says President Sampaio, High Representative for the UNAOC, who joined the participants for the last few days of the Summer School. Moreover, President Sampaio underlined that change regarding mutual understanding and trust cannot happen without active participation from young people. “Their energy, their capacity to tackle challenges as well as their natural curiosity regarding “the other” are exactly what is needed to ensure positive relationships between people of different cultures and religions.”
The course also allowed strategic networking and search for partners as young participants are expected to implement joint projects and initiatives advancing the objectives of the UNAOC. One of the tools at the disposal of young participants to implement these projects is Dialogue Café, a global network of public spaces where people can come together via video conference, to share information and ideas, learn about new projects and collaborate on new ways of addressing social problems.
Lara Marcal Da Silva, a participant from Portugal enthusiastically shared that “The UNAOC Summer Course was one of the best experiences of my life! During this week I got to know people from every corner of the world and share experiences with them. This Summer School also helped me and all other participants prove that stereotypes are wrong and that we can be friends with people from different backgrounds.”
This idea was reinforced by Merieme Bachar, a participant from Morocco who “realized that although we have differences, there are more similarities. Living together doesn’t require us to be similar; on the contrary our differences make up our strengths.”
This UNAOC Summer School of young leaders was made possible thanks to a number of key partners such as the University of Aveiro, the Aga Khan Development Network, the EMUNI University, the Representation in Portugal of the European Commission, the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, ALECSO, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, IRCICA, the Foundation for the Electricity of Portugal (EDP Foundation), the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Fundação do Oriente, the University of Lisbon, the Instituto Português de Relações Internacionais as well as to private sponsors such as the Jordan Group and El Corte Ingles.
For coverage of the UNAOC Summer School in the Portuguese media, see http://tv1.rtp.pt/noticias/?t=Jovens-debatem-nova-visao-do-Planeta-em-Aveiro.rtp&headline=20&visual=9&article=368995&tm=7
A detailed evaluation of this first UNAOC Summer School is currently underway; the decision on making it a regular UNAOC event will be made very soon.
Presentation 1 (Dr. Miro Polzer):
WORKSHOP1 – Establishing Links between Youth Organizations and Entertainment Industries/Celebrities/VIPs for the Effective Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue and Global Understanding