IMPORTANT: PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE STILL ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FROM YOUTH FROM AUSTRIA WITH THE NEW DEADLINE ON NOVEMBER 24, 2012!
As we prepare for the 5th UNAOC Youth Event in Vienna, we met one of the participants of the UNAOC Youth Event in 2011 in Doha – Anna Magnand from Vienna, Austria. Here are her thoughts and experiences from the Youth Event held in Doha.
UNAOC Youth Event Team: What do you do and how did you learn about the UNAOC Youth Event in Doha?
Anna Magnand: I am the executive director of the Muslim-Jewish Conference, which is an NGO that organizes annual inter-faith youth events. The conference lasts for a week and is held for young Muslim and Jewish persons from around the world. I attended the UNAOC Summer School in 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal and afterwards we were given information regarding the Youth Event in Doha. I applied and got accepted. At the UNAOC Youth Event I represented the Muslim-Jewish Conference.
UNAOC Youth Event Team: What were some of the highlights of the Youth Event in Doha?
Anna Magnand: The highlight of the event was the actual discussions that took place. We were divided into groups and seated at a discussion table, we were given topics and questions to discuss and tried to reach a consensus amongst ourselves. We also came up with proposals and recommendations. Furthermore, I think it is a great opportunity to meet people from around the world who run amazing projects. It was so interesting to be introduced to such a diverse group of people, engaged in various fields such as health, environment, inter-faith and intercultural activities. I also enjoyed the cultural part of the Forum. At the end of the Youth Event, we were invited to tour a cultural village of Qatara and attend a series of concerts by international artists.
UNAOC Youth Event Team: What were the topics of the Youth Event in Doha?
Anna Magnand: The Doha event focused on finding the link between intercultural dialogue and development. The three main topics were: how cultural diversity matters to development; promoting trust and tolerance to advance development goals – which was linked to the Millennium Development Goals; and new strategies for intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation. We were also given sub-questions and each group discussed the three topics through sub-questions in order to come up with proposals and recommendations. Each discussion table also had a previously chosen moderator to facilitate the conversations. At the end of each round, we wrote approximately two sentences in order to sum up the discussions. The reports from each table were later given to representatives of each continent, who were elected by the participants themselves.
UNAOC Youth Event Team: Would you recommend for young people to participate in the Youth Event?
Anna Magnand: Of course, I would. I think it is such a unique opportunity to meet people from so many different backgrounds who are engaged in various fields and organizations and promote the goals of the UNAOC. At the Youth Event, we were put into groups with people we had never met before, people from different countries, religious and ethnic backgrounds and discussed these topics that enabled us to get to know the realities of other parts of the world. We got to know the Egyptian, Estonian, Qatari, American and other realities and had a chance to compare those to our own. It was very interesting and refreshing to discuss topics with persons from other parts of the world.
UNAOC Youth Event Team: What importance does the UNAOC Youth Event carry in today’s world?
Anna Magnand: Facing today’s challenges in a globalized society, I am confident young people know how to tackle the various issues affecting them, and make a better world. However, it is crucial that the youth is given the means to develop their initiatives as well as to get together with other visionary young people and form a stronger international community with shared goals. I think international youth events like this one are crucial to build a true sustainable Alliance of Civilizations to work for a better future for all of us.