Youth ambassadors: raising young voices for CRoL and Europe
We all know ambassadors as accredited diplomats sent by a state as its permanent representative in a foreign country. But what exactly is a youth ambassador and what do they have to do with Cities and Regions of Learning?
With the growing network of Cities and Regions of Learning and the ongoing development of all the involved platforms, we understand more and more that young people play an essential role in the success story of all our work so far. Young people are not only the target group and the ones who are using the platform to explore offers and opportunities. In the past years of development, young people also voluntarily supported the development process, overtook responsibility and helped to promote the platforms and their benefits. From functionalities to design, to the concrete activities and content of the platform and finally to the outreach to the target group – young people made Cities and Regions of Learning grow.
In our project Cities of Learning. Youth co-design learning, civic and career pathways we wanted to support this active engagement of young people even more and with concrete concepts. Therefore we started to implement the role of the youth co-managers. These are 1-2 young persons by the involved project partners overtaking managing tasks and sharing decision making authority of the project. Additionally to that and to give even more young people the opportunity to be part of our network and to grow and develop their skills, few partners came up with the idea to start to work with youth ambassadors. They are groups of young people in the age of 16 – 27 years, who are meeting regularly, who are advising the newest developments from youth perspective, developing ideas and content for the platforms and are reaching out to their peers in promotion as a spokesperson of the platforms – exactly like real ambassadors.
In this way they are developing ownership and overtaking responsibility of Cities and Regions of Learning and the involved platforms.
Youth ambassadors in practice
In order to get a better picture, what is behind the role of a youth ambassador, it is worth to take a look at the concrete activities in practice. In Germany, we from European Youth Educational Center in Magdeburg (EJBM) together with GOEUROPE! European Youth Competence Center Sachsen-Anhat did initiate the voluntary youth ambassadors on a regional level in the region of Saxony-Anhalt. They overtake responsibility for the platforms sachsen-anhalt.regionoflearning.eu and goeurope.cityoflearning.eu.
Every last Friday and Saturday in a month, the group of 10 – 15 young people is meeting in the EJBM. On the meetings agenda you can always find elements such as exchange about news from CRoL network, check up of new developments, or brainstorming ideas for playlists and activities. Of course those meetings are also a time for fun and networking. Playing games with peers, spending evenings together, cooking together or trying out VR technology, the informal time is an important motivational element of each meeting. The meetings are organised and planned by the youth co-manager and project administration.
Additionally to that, each meeting also has its own special topic. In one of the meetings the youth ambassadors created for example the playlist “Vom Sofa in die Welt – Entdecke deine Möglichkeiten im Ausland” (Eng.: from our couch to the world – discover your opportunities abroad). The playlist provides information for young people about finding information, planning and preparing for youth mobilities in the future (such as voluntary services, youth exchanges, etc.) in times of Covid-19. In the September meeting they have tested and adapted the methodology of a “future workshop”, which is part of the Youth consultations on youth learning, civic and career narratives which are currently held in each project partner’s country. Based on their feedback, the future workshop was improved and afterwards run with several youth groups. In the October meeting, the youth ambassadors invited their friends and peers and did run the future workshop by themselves to amplify the consultation results so far. For the next year, the ambassadors are planning to get more internationally connected, hold and support regional events around Cities and Regions of Learning and become active in the promotion of the platforms to make CRoL more known among their peers and in their organisations, schools and universities. They already set up their own Instagram account: #jugendbeirat.eu – Stay tuned
“I am committed to the youth ambassadors because I think it is important to communicate the opportunities of Europe to other young people. Europe and European integration determines the future of our lives and those of future generations. That’s why I feel it is important to communicate and demonstrate these insights to other young people. F urthermore, I would like to give them an insight into the different possibilities of how they can travel abroa d, the types of projects that are involved or how they can connect to the big complex that is Europe. Cities of Learning with Playlists and Badges are a good opportunity to promote these topics. They make them visible, accessible and comprehensible for young people.” – Pascal Herrmann 22, Youth Ambassador in Sachsen-Anhalt Region of Learning
Why do youth-ambassadors in Saxony-Anhalt engage themselves for Cities and Regions of Learning, digital Playlists and OpenBadges?
Youth- ambassadors in Saxony-Anhalt in their October meeting
Authors: Johannes Bergunder (Project coordinator) and Rebecca Schlißke (Youth co manager)