The second edition of Rural Youth Summit gathered 150 participants (youngsters of rural areas from 18 counties, 21 facilitators and experts, public authorities at local, regional and national levels). The activities took place in the village Dorobanț, commune Aroneanu (Iași county), during 31st August – 4th September 2021, and included workshops held by NGO representatives and specialists who work in the youth field, plenary sessions where the youth policies were called into question along with the currently existent support measures for rural youth, but also socialization activities that aimed to raise the motivation of the present youngsters to work better in the future in an Informal Rural Youth Network (the so-called Rețeaua Informală a Tinerilor din Mediul Rural, with this the abbreviation RITM).
The event was coordinated by the European Youth Village Governance (Association for Active Development Bacău and Go Free-Association for the Support of the Civil Society Cluj-Napoca), and implemented in partnership with the Mayor Hall of Aroneanu commune, the Initiative Group Aroneanu 2021 and Association „The Knights of the Leaning Tower”, with the support of Erasmus Plus and European Solidarity Corps programmes.
The Summit was the first event of its kind organized literally in a village, which implied an extraordinary outreach of the resources that the Aroneanu community offered to the European Youth Village programme, including the spaces for running the activities, a coordination effort from the organizers and involvement of the participants in organizing the event from „the grassroots”.
The opening event of the Rural Youth Summit took place on 1st September in Aroneanu, at Liria Events. The welcoming message was addressed by Victor Cătălin Toma from Association for Active Development, Andra Camelia Cordoș from Go Free Association, Benoni Moruzi, the mayor of Aroneanu, Irina Lupu, the headmaster of School „Aron Vodă” Aroneanu and Eliza Zamfirescu, member in the Youth Initiative Group Aroneanu 2021.
The plenary session „In dialogue with young people from rural areas and public authorities” was moderated by Vlad Dumitrescu from Foundation for Development of the Civil Society and hosted Adina Girjan, subprefect at the Prefect Institution Iași, Sorin Afloarei, vice-president at the Iași County Council, Benoni Moruzi, mayor of Aroneanu commune, Victor Toma, coordinator of the European Youth Village programme.
„Rural Youth Talks” brought to stage 5 brave stories from youngsters living in rural areas, presented by Ioana Bolog – member of the Youth Initiative Group from Bâra (Neamț county), Andreea Buzilă – member of the Youth Initiative Group from Panaci (Suceava county), Larisa Panțiru – member of the Youth Initiative Group from Slimnic-European Youth Village 2021 (Sibiu county), Daliana Elena Pavel – ceramist and member of the informal group Timișoara Young Artists (Timiș county), Ionuț Șerban – actor and counselor at the Private Roma School of Tinca (Bihor county). The discourses will soon be published on the social platforms of the European Youth Village programme.
„I am thrilled to be here because I want to tell you frankly what it means to be a young person in a village, I want to be the voice of my generation and a voice for the next generations. First, being a youngster in a rural area means having big dreams to fulfill. […] Change is beneficial, we need to rise, fill the gaps and embrace the challenges. Many people don’t know the situation from a village, but I can honestly tell you that we have needs. We need to be taken seriously by adults. We need visibility and strong bonding with the local authorities. We need to be consulted in the decision-making, and we need support in our activity. WE, the youngsters from villages, need modernity and development. We don’t want to be confused with the folkloric, with the traditional, not anymore. We don’t want to be left aside again, our future is just as important as the youngsters’ from urban areas. And we don’t want to have obstacles every single time when we try to bring something new to our villages. Not anymore.
With a few exceptions, the villages lack spaces and activities for youth, basic water supplies, technology of information adjustment, non-formal education, jobs and the opening towards culture and new domains because there is this conception that in the village agriculture is to be the primary thing. There is a lack of sports and artistic activities and believe me when I say that earth bending or animal growing are neither sports nor recreation.” (section from Ioana Bolog’s discourse)
21 workshops were held after, during the Rural Youth Summit, in parallel, for different youth groups, in the village of Dorobanț, Aroneanu commune, on the days of 1st, 2nd and 3rd September:
What can I do in my village – community intervention design – facilitated by Vlad Dumitrescu (Foundation for Development of the Civil Society)
Community Organizing – Next Gen – facilitated by Alexandru Palas (Resource Centre for Public Participation: CeRe)
Grassroots Journalism – documenting, interviewing, writing – facilitated by Ruxandra Pătrașcu Maian, journalist
Get a taste for participation, development opportunities for youth, Erasmus+ Youth Mobilities – facilitated by Florina Făgărășeanu (ANPCDEFP)
Sex Ed for youth – facilitated by Bogdan Istrate (Association Semper Musica)
Ministry for Youth and Sport and the rural youth – facilitated by Lelia Preoteasa (Ministry for Youth and Sport)
SOLIDarity in the community, bro! – facilitated by Andrei Popescu (European Solidarity Corps / ANPCDEFP)
Rural Youth for green and clean communities – facilitated by Andreea Petruț (Act for Tomorrow)
Be COOL! Be healthy! – facilitated by Maria Bivol ( Association Alternativa – Republic of Moldova)
Quo vadis UE? – facilitated by Nadia Nicoleta Morărașu (Europe Direct Bacău)
Human rights – fairytale or reality? – facilitated by Cătălina Olteanu (National Council for Combating Discrimination)
Personal Development through theatre techniques – facilitated by Ionuț Șerban, actor
Ceramics workshop – facilitated by Daliana Elena Pavel (Youth Foundation of Timiș County)
Diversity and identity – facilitated by Deea Rădulescu ( Association Identity. Education Timișoara)
Being a youth worker – facilitated by Bianca Tătar ( Association DEIS)
How do we build the relationship between civil society and public administration? – facilitated by Mircea Meriacri (the Federation of Youth NGOs Iași – FONTIS)
In Rhythm / RITM with the animation – facilitated by Andreea Scrioșteanu (National Organisation of the Romanian Scouts)
Flowarts and juggling workshop – facilitated by FOCus POCus group (Artipic Association)
Street Debate – bringing dialogue on the street – facilitated by Simona Militaru (Go Free – Association for Support of the Civil Society)
Prepared for inclusion! – facilitated by Nicușor Ciobanu (ANPCDEFP)
Let’s get digital #înRITMrural – facilitated by Mihai Panțiru (Association „The Knights of the Leaning Tower”)
(*photos from the workshops will be published on Facebook/Instagram @europeanyouthvillage)
Additionally, between 3-5 September, 40 youngsters interested in solidarity projects in the frame of European Solidarity Corps programme participated in ACCES training – Solidarity Projects, offered by the European Solidarity Corps programme (ANPCDEFP – National Agency for Community Programmes in the Domain of Education and Vocational Training).
The second day, 2nd September, started with the panel session „Youth policies and support mechanisms for rural youth, IN rural space”, moderated by Vlad Dumitrescu (FDSC). Participants to the discussion were: Andrei Popescu (European Solidarity Corps), Benoni Moruzi (AcoR Association of the Communes of Romania), Liliana Romaniuc (Ministry for National Education), Mircea Meriacri (Iași – Youth Capital of Romania), Maria Bivol (Costești – National Youth Capital 2019), Victor Cătălin Toma (European Youth Village / White Charter for Rural Youth).
„White Charter for Rural Youth – Open Space – Priorities and strategic directions” was a working session on the eight topics of the Charter – the first strategic document that will act as a guide for the future public policies and measures aimed to change the lives of the youngsters from rural areas positively. The eight workgroups had a moderator for each representative topic, in the following order: Participation – moderator Andrei Popescu; Environment – moderator Vlad Dumitrescu; Education – moderator Andreea Scrioșteanu; Youth Rights – moderator Miruna Lupaș; Occupation – moderator Marius Petică; Healthy lifestyle – moderator Maria Bivol, Culture – moderator Daliana Pavel; Spaces for youth – moderator Mircea Meriacri.
During the second day, in parallel with the workshops, the finalist applications for the title European Youth Village 2022 were presented to the jury by the youth initiative groups, some of them being supported by the presence of the commune mayors. The 7 finalist communes are: Bâra from Neamț County; Cristian from Brașov County; Dămienești from Bacău County; Drânceni from Vaslui County; Hălăucești from Iași County; Panaci from Suceava County; Săbăoani from Neamț County.
Taking into account the fact that the conditions for representing the Cristian commune at the Rural Youth Summit were not met (a single member presented the application instead of 5 members), only six communes will get qualified in the last phase (submitting the final application) for the title European Youth Village 2022.
From the European Youth Village 2022 Jury took part in the presentation of the applications the following: Vlad Dumitrescu (FDSC); Andrei Popescu (ANPCDEFP); Lelia Preoteasa (Ministry for Youth and Sport); Mihai Panțiru (Slimnic – European Youth Village 2021); Victor Cătălin Toma (Governance of European Youth Village) and Yolanda Florescu via Zoom (Youth Foundation of Timiș County).
The title of „European Youth Village” is offered by the Governance in frame of the national programme European Youth Village to the villages or communes in Romania that sustain the youngsters in the actions that they want to organize in the community and understand that change on a local level is generated through a partnership between local authorities and youth. Throughout 2022, all the initiatives, events or actions organized locally in the communes that hold this title will aim to raise the youngsters` and authorities` participation to solve problems or needs that the rural youth has, but also to improve some aspects that are directly targeting the young people from rural areas. By participating in the programme, the youngsters become aware of the resources they have, more visible and prepared for action on the way to the real change they wish for locally, nationally, and on European level.
The third day of the Rural Youth Summit went on with parallel workshops and with the ACCES training – Solidarity Projects. After the official closing of the Summit, presenting the conclusions, evaluating #înRITMrural, a photo session and street debate on „What do I want from my village in 2022?”, the evening was closed with a fire show offered by FOCus POCus group and a celebration party where we praised the new friendships, but also the involvement of our communities.
We are sending a big „Thank you!” to everyone who made this event possible, the ADA & Go Free volunteers and the volunteers from RITM network, our hosts from Aroneanu, facilitators and moderators, authority representatives, members of the jury, but also to the people who gave us their support to transform the village, who took care of us during the Summit days and quickly responded to our demands (including Mrs. Ana, who took care of our spaces and Mr. Costel who came with keys from the school like a zillion times and helped us put the schoolyard space together with new benches). Our thanks go as well to the participants who understood that their involvement was very much needed, and they offered support in the organization (also logistically speaking) throughout the Summit. Finally, many thanks to Paul, our man with solutions to every emergency and the coordinating team of this event: Leo, Miruna, Alexandra, Simona, Roxana, Eliza, Andra and Victor.
Rural Youth Summit was organized in the frame of European Youth Village, an apolitical programme developed on four pillars – education, culture, volunteerism, and youth participation/youth policies, aiming to contribute to the development of the youth sector from rural areas by activating the young people and the public authorities from these communities, while facilitating the consolidation of the public youth policies in rural areas, on a national and international level. The programme is coordinated nationally by Association for Active Development and Go Free – the Association for Support of the Civil Society and implemented with support from Erasmus Plus programme and the European Youth Villages Network.
This is a translation of an article published by Andra Camelia Cordoș, available online here. Translation made by Miruna Lupaș.