Debates, assisting the community and student rights are the three topics on which about 60 secondary school students had an opportunity to listen to lectures during the youth camp organized by the USAID Youth Ethnic Integration Project. The camp held from 20 to 22 October 2018 in Ohrid was attended by students from six secondary schools throughout Macedonia – “Jane Sandanski” from Strumica, “Prerodba-Rilindja” from the village of Zitose, “Zef Ljus Marku” from Skopje, “Pero Nakov” from Kumanovo, “Niko Nestor” from Struga and “Kuzman Sapkarev” from Bitola.
The three-day camp started with a theoretical lecture on the rights of children, through which young people learned why their rights matter and how they can exercise them within their schools. On the other hand, the participants in the camp also learned why their responsibilities matter and how they can contribute for improving their communities. The lecture on debates and secondary school communities enabled them to enhance their critical thinking skills and to jointly find solutions for the challenges faced by young people.
“These three days went by very fast because every activity was interesting, starting with the topics and ending with the workshops. What left a great impression on me is the inclusiveness of everyone in the activities, by accepting us as we are, without any differentiation, while giving us an opportunity to express ourselves and our skills”, said Faton, a student from the secondary school “Rilindja”.
During the camp, the students participated in a series of creative and interactive workshops. The young people together made beautiful designs for T-shirts with creative messages of peace and equality and debated on topics that they themselves chose – sport, equality, feminism, reforms of the educational system, peer bullying, mental health, secondary school rights, integration and language and homeless animals.
“At this camp, in addition to the activities and the presentations, we also had an opportunity to get to know and to spend time with some new friends from other towns and nationalities”, said Gina, a student in the secondary school “Zef Ljus Marku”.
The teachers also attended interactive lectures through which they gained knowledge and skills for supporting the students’ ideas, mentoring the secondary school communities and organizing debates during the classes. Furthermore, they participated in a round table on the topic: “Education as a factor in creating informed and active youth” at which, together with representatives from the Bureau for the Development of Education, they discussed ways of improving the educational system so that it yields generations of active students who are interested in improving their communities.
The camp ended with a panel discussion on the topic: “Youth participation and organizing young people” at which introductory speeches were held by Blazen Malevski, president of the National Youth Council of Macedonia, Veronika Stanoevska, president of the secondary school community of SMUGS Pance Karagjozov, and Florim Rexhepi, representative of the Intercultural Dialogue Center from Kumanovo. During the panel discussion, the participants had an opportunity to have a discussion with the panelists and obtain information as to the possibilities for youth participation in Macedonia.
The youth camps organized by the USAID Youth Ethnic Integration Project, in cooperation with the Youth Education Forum, are aimed at enabling mutual contact and positive interaction of students learning in different languages, which creates possibilities for building new friendships between young people from different ethnic communities.
This activity is part of the Youth Ethnic Integration Project, funded by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).