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University of Youth Development: Seminar on Diaspora as agents of inclusive societies by Shwetal Shah

October 24th, 2017

University of Youth Development, North South Centre Seminar on Diaspora as agents of inclusive societies

17th September to 24th September 2017


I represented The Ubele Initiative, London on the pan diaspora seminar organized by North South Centre part of the pop up University of Youth Development which takes place each year in Mollina exactly when the UN General Assembly meets at UN HQ briefing on the outcomes towards the SDGs with a deadline for 2030. The Network, created in 2011 by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, includes the University on Youth and Development (Spain); the African University on Youth and Development (Cape Verde and Kenya); the Mediterranean University on Youth and Global Citizenship (Tunisia) and the University of Citizenship Participation (UPC).

The Network provides an exceptional space for young people and youth organisations around the world to meet, debate, build their capacity and co-operate on youth policy related issues.

The small village 50 km from Malaga, is always buzzing with global citizens and youth during the week and it all comes to life during the closing parade for the locals, the space continues to be social hub and location for concerts co created by participants. The ancient blending with the modern and contemporary, all co existing to create a space for all to use in various ways.

The seminar I attended aims to explore a deeper understanding of youth diaspora and seeks to touch upon the challenges and potential that such groups have for the promotion of more inclusive communities and for the further evolution of global/development education in Europe.

The seminar “Diaspora youth as agents for inclusive societies and development education” is the first step of a longer process that will encompass further initiatives in the area of capacity building, networking and advocacy to support youth diaspora-led quality initiatives and policies in the framework of global development education / global education.

As such, the seminar is part of the iLegend project: Intercultural Learning Exchange through Global Education, Networking and Dialogue co-funded by the Council of Europe and the Civil Society and Local Authorities Programme of the European Union.  

Here is a screen shot of some of the Diaspora Organization mapping we did, which would enable the participation calls being sent out to more organizations across the world and create further diversity and opportunities at the university.


The activities at the 18th annual University on Youth and Development (UYD) facilitated by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe reach out to national and local communities via the various organisations’ seminar sessions. These workshops share the experiences and expertise of over 230 youth leaders and youth participants from a global level down to introducing local policy changes.

The Spanish Youth Council (Consejo de la Juventud de España, CJE) involved Latin American participants with their partnership with Foro Latinoamericano y Caribeño de la Juventud (FLACJ).

The organisation’s long-term influence can be interpreted by the creation of ‘Identities on the Move’, which was set-up by a former participant of the CJE’s seminar that even went by the same title. “Following the seminar, this young participant returned home to Madrid and launched the organisation which pushes the city to support refugees,” said Manuel Ramos, Non-Formal Education and Participation at the CJE.

The DYPALL (Developing Youth Participation at Local Level) Network also uses the UYD forum to formulate new policy at local and domestic levels. Their European network of 30 municipalities and civil society organisations for more than 30 countries enables them to broadcast to their own members across Europe, Jordan and Palestine, what they acquire at the UYD.

Continuing their commitment to the UYD is the Instituto de la Juventud (INJUVE), who have contributed to the activities since its inception in 2000. It is the first time that they have held training workshops at the university broadening their involvement from financial and advisory, to full immersion with the young participants.

The objectives of the UYD are:

●     to promote youth work development and youth participation as well as political mainstreaming of the youth related issues and youth policy development;

●     to encourage participation of young people in decision and policy making by promoting their involvement and interaction in quadrilogue initiatives;

●     to provide training and capacity building for young people and youth organisations;

●     to foster youth cooperation and global youth work;

●     to promote human rights, intercultural dialogue and democratic citizenship as essential dimensions of global education.

As mentioned above various partner activities were delivered based on the declaration of the university with this year’s theme being Identities, here is an agenda of a participating group working on LGBT rights and feminists.

The first thing we did was to define what Diaspora means, as there can be completely different understanding of it, in a group of 17 people consisting of the following nationalities

●        Ukraine- now living in Germany

●        Ukraine- now in Spain

●        Moldova- now in Russia

●        Georgia- now in Armenia

●        Armenia

●        Ghana- now in England

●        Uganda- now in Englad

●        Senegal-now in Belgium

●        Togo- now in Spain

●        Philippines- adopted by Dutch parents

●        Austrian, Guinea heritage, born in Geneva now in France

●        India- now in England

We went with the following definition:


After the definition we all agreed upon day 1 we then came to recognize the knowledge, skills and attitudes that diaspora youth organizations lack and need to have in order to be the agents of change which was derived by a combined session with the Global Education group also hosted by the North South Centre.

We did this by playing a simulation game involving World Bank, UN, Northern developed (Bulgaria, USA, France) countries, Southern developing and underdeveloped countries (Burundi, Bangladesh and Egypt)

Here is a video which explains the entire simulation exercise and the meaning behind it:

We didn’t want to stay in our own bubble of global citizens, so we used the free time we had to explore other cities around our village, some went to Malaga and some went to Granada

I used to free time to explore the Arabic influences in the southern part of Spain whilst enjoying the tapas and Spanish culture in Granada.

With a lot of walking and exploring we did our final closing parade for the village and party for the students.

And with that we all went back home on Sunday, exhausted, overwhelmed with information and emotion to recognize and take the privileges out of those closed walls in the village of Mollina into our grass roots communities to create impact with the joint declaration we worked on:


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