Picture a scene filled with buzzing excitement, where the atmosphere is electric with hope for worldwide unity, and where young people are leading the charge. This was the spirit of the grand finale event held on December 9th in Istanbul. This dynamic city became the stage for the concluding act of the “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” initiative, funded by the EU. It was a festive gathering celebrating the role of youth in driving towards enduring peace.
Shaping Minds for Peace: The Core Principle of the Project
This ambitious project was built on a core principle: shaping young minds, turning them from mere observers of conflict into creators of peace. Drawing inspiration from the profound insights of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the project aimed high, setting its sights on lofty goals:
- Building Bridges, Breaking Stereotypes: this event was like a vibrant gathering of diverse cultures and ideas. It created a space where understanding and teamwork overcame longstanding stereotypes. More than just facilitating conversations, it promoted empathy, breaking down barriers, and building relationships that transcended borders.
- A Tapestry of Integration: this gathering shone a light on refugee integration, providing a stage for stories of success and powerful personal journeys. It aimed to craft a welcoming narrative, turning spaces into communities that celebrate and embrace the stories and aspirations of refugees.
- Igniting Creative Sparks: the conference was a launchpad for creativity, targeting the untapped potential of young minds. It went beyond mere discussions, encouraging unconventional thinking, bold dreaming, and envisioning a world where youth actively contribute to shaping policies for a brighter future.
- Harmony in Diversity: Istanbul witnessed a celebration of cultures, where diverse backgrounds converged with a shared vision. It wasn’t just about understanding differences; it was about embracing them, recognizing the beauty in diversity, and forging paths towards collective action for sustainable peace.
A Mosaic of Resilience and Hope
With over 130 passionate souls from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Lithuania, the event was a canvas painted with stories of resilience and hope. The spotlight fell on luminaries like Diego Cupolo, whose poignant narratives from “Seven Syrians: War Accounts From Syrian Refugees” shone a light on the media’s role in conflicts, urging us to question and critically evaluate the information we consume.
Humanitarian Stories That Inspire
Karolis Sankauskas, the Lithuanian philanthropist, transported us on his humanitarian journeys to war-stricken Ukraine. His tireless efforts in delivering aid and rebuilding shattered communities breathed life into the conference, reminding us of the strength found in compassion and solidarity.
Youth Leadership in Peace-Building
Then, there was Stanislav Karmyšov, the Lithuanian youth worker, whose words echoed the heart of the conference. He spoke passionately about the necessity of educating young minds in the art of peace-building and conflict resolution. His insights illuminated the path toward sustainable peace, emphasizing the crucial role of youth-led initiatives.
A Living Gallery of Impact and Insight
Amidst the lively buzz of the conference, there was a deep sense of purpose and achievement. It was like a living gallery, highlighting meaningful initiatives and sharing insights. Antanas Čeponis’s photographs added a profound layer to this tapestry. His images brought to life the enduring strength of people in the wake of the Hatay earthquake, and hauntingly captured the lingering shadows of war in Ukraine.
The Human Toll of Conflict: A Documentary Perspective
Eduardas Pontežis’s documentary, an emotional journey into the lives of internally displaced persons in Ukraine, served as a stark reminder of the human toll of conflicts, urging us to act for those whose voices are often unheard.
As conflicts persist, the conference wasn’t just about discourse; it was a beacon of hope. It was a call to action, reminding us of the voices lost in the chaos—the youth whose futures are at stake. It rekindled the fire within us, urging collective action towards a world where every voice is heard and every heart beats in unison for peace.