Just a few weeks ago I had the chance to accompany more than 15 young people from different Fe y Alegría communities, who had the chance to meet each other in Spain and live three special moments:

First, they visited and shared experiences with numerous groups that belong to Red Solidaria de Jóvenes, the Youth Solidarity Network of Entreculturas; afterwards they participated in the 3rd International Meeting of Red Generación 21, Generation 21 Network, and last they attended the 6th Solidarity Youth Network’s Meeting.

We lived these 19 days fully, gaining experience and knowledge. Now I would like to share with you some thoughts that emerged from the group’s active participation in those three spaces.

Exchanging experiences in different Spanish Autonomous Regions.

This was the first activity we participated in, together with the youth representatives of Fe y Alegría and JRS from different countries (Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, Uruguay, Peru, Italy, Spain, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Colombia).

We met young people who are involved in the Solidarity Network of Spain, giving the youth the opportunity to share their expectations and dreams and relate themselves to one another. We spent two weeks (February 5th-13th and 19th-24th) involved in this task, visiting different communities and exchanging knowledge and learnings.

Getting to know the Spanish Solidarity Youth Network better, gave us the chance to identify young women and men who are excited and committed to change the world we live in. It was remarkable and impressive to see how in all the schools involved in the project, the youth were sharing enthusiastically their personal experiences and the impact the network had in their lives.

We lived moments of attentive listening; all the young people, both Spanish and visitors, wanted to speak, to narrate their own experiences of transformation and learning.

There was time to reflect and to question oneself on important and significant topics as environment issues, culture, politics; but also personal views on their realities, contexts, daily struggles, fears, hope and desires had an important role during the conversation.

They were able to respect their diversity and different points of view about their communities’ need of transformation.

Beyond any doubt, the meeting brought us moments of hope, especially when each young assistant admitted that, despite of the challenges their communities have to face, they feel called and committed to be transformation actors in changing the discriminative realities they identify around them.

For the members of the Generation 21 Network was significant to get closer to the Solidarity Youth Network, which has been generating training processes, accompaniments and impact actions with the youth for the last 17 years.

3rd Youth Solidarity Network’s International Meeting: strengthening the Generation 21 Network

The event, which took place within the Global Meeting, is a dream came true. Its essence is related to a definition given by the youth during the 1st Congress of the Youth some years ago in Barranquilla (Colombia), which is: “more possibles are possible”, meaning there is always an alternative. More than 70 people had the chance to meet each other: young men, women and teachers from 11 countries where Fe y Alegría is involved in change, as well as our fellows of JRS schools Colombia.

We were brought together in Guadarrama (Spain) on February 15th and 16th, the perfect scenario to reflect on the opportunities the International Network gives us: how to be global citizens, people involved in the construction of a peace culture and have an impact on the society with our acts. We appreciated all the actions driven by different countries and some processes that we can take a reference to strengthen the Generation 21 Network.

The Meeting achieved several goals. First of all, we were able to identify four topics we want to work on as a NETWORK: violence and discrimination, environment issues and pollution, gender equality, and finally, the youth’s apathy towards the reality we live in. We now have the task to work in small committees in order to progress as Global Network.

It was especially significant to join a workshop organized by Organización Iberoamericana de Juventud (OIJ), the Ibero-american Youth Organization, in which we were asked to reflect and brainstorm on the youth’s role and how it can have an impact on the governments’ plans and actions in every country.

An important alliance with OIJ was set forth, it will allow us to work together, drawing an action plan that will bring our voice to places where global decisions regarding the youth are taken. The first one will be the Iberoamerican Presidents and Ministries Summit, that will take place in Guatemala in November 2018.

The Network 21 International Meeting closed emphasizing three powerful ideas:

  1. We are the Generation 21 Network.
  2. We don’t cease being who we are, but we bring our identity to the Network.
  3. We are political actors of transformation.

Part of the invitation we make to young people and those who accompany youth processes is to continue strengthening this Network, which will allow us to embrace our role as agents of social transformation who are always connected and ready to answer in a powerful and creative way to the challenges we encounter on our path.

Fe y Alegría’s International Federation and Entreculturas made this meeting possible, allowed us to foresee our future and to empower the Generation 21 Network as a proposal designed by young women and men who are committed to bring change to violent realities.

6th Solidarity Youth Network’s Meeting – AvenTúrate

Its main topic was the observance of the Sustainable Development Goals. Participating in this space was particularly important for the young members of the Network; together we understood that we can be part of a global agenda, where people, organizations and governments can commit themselves to accomplish these aims.

It is moving and encouraging to see how the Solidarity Youth Network and the Generation 21 Network are reflecting on what they can do to achieve the SDG.

They got to know each one of the SDGoals in a creative and dynamic way, following the idea “to learn by playing”, as José Cabrera states in his book “Redarquía”, they had fun during the learning process. It was truly inspiring for me.

We cannot forget to mention the important task carried out by teachers, trainers and facilitators during the workshops. Finally, they understood that, despite of geographic distances and borders, “in our small realities, we are all doing small and big things moved by the necessity to transform the world we live in. And we will not give up”.

I believe all of us who had the opportunity to participate in the 6th Solidarity Youth Network’s Meeting AvenTúrate will remember the secret to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals: “You are the secret!”, you, me, us… we are essential components to transform the reality we live in.

After the intense moments lived in Spain, we face the challenge to keep walking together, knowing each other better and to learn to work “tangled in the Network”. This is, and will be, one of the milestones that show us the way we have to build as Generation 21 Network. Thanks again to Entreculturas, Fe y Alegría International Federation and all those who made this meeting possible and fruitful.

I also take the opportunity to thank the warm welcome and precious sharing moments that arose in each different space and community (Technicians, Youths, Families, Teachers and the Society of Jesus), they made us feel home.
Thank you all for the experience and knowledge gained.

Juan Pablo Rayo Arango

Youth Initatives and Citizenship Leader

Fe y Alegría International Federation

Fe y Alegría