YOUTH in Dialogue: Immersion Experience and Leadership Seminar, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Inmersion Boliva 3

Youth for Dialogue is a project of formation for young people, promoted by Education for an Interdependent World (EDIW), a Non Governmental Organization in partnership with the Teresian Association, and sponsored by the European Union, with the objective of being channel of dialogue in different world realities. 

As part of this project, during the first three weeks of August, eight young people  from Spain, Peru, Portugal, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Bolivia, went to Cochabamba and lived together an experience of educational and social immersion.  The Social Projects  “Yachay Tinkuy” and  “Centro de educación Permanente Jaihuayco”  of the Teresian Association welcomed the young people, who worked supporting activities such as educational workshops with children, youth and  teachers from rural and urban schools. They gave computer workshops for the general community and acted  as  support to the Radio Station CEPJA 90.1 FM. 

Inmersion  Boliva4The experience of immersion in Cochabamba coincided with one of the most important festivities in Bolivia, the feast of the Virgin of Urkupiña, called the celebration  of "national integration", one of the main cultural and religious references of the country where the group  fully participated in unison with  the people in this national pilgrimage.

The immersion experience ended with an international seminar on leadership competences where the immersion experience was shared and processed  relating this to  needs of youth in a global world and to the various ways of participation in society .   Participants  from Uruguay,  Guatemala, Chile,  Venezuela and Columbia  also came for the seminar. 

At the end of the seminar, the participants were committed to act  in the realites of each country.  They identified needs , shared reflections, discoveries, perceptions, possibilities and threats that constitute human experience .  They called for dialogue between peoples who live in the neighborhood, in the city,  a dialogue that generates inclusion, intercultural understanding, mutual enrichment and trust.

They felt  that dialogue  is urgently needed among the political parties and reflected on  the different perceptions of the common good and the different strategies to reach it  hoping to  develop a strong democratic base, a better use of resources,  greater transparency and a better  citizenry with the  development of democratic values.

The result of the experience was a commitment to assume jointly the imperative need to promote dialogue between groups and to create relations based on recognizing the dignity and rights  of all people, and the common good.   These young people dream of being promoters of a dialogue of reconciliation, mutual trust and understanding, a dialogue between cultures and regions of the world to put into action strategies of peace.

So, animated with this new beginning, they launched the next part of the project: “Dialogue for Democracy”, with the desire of continuing this journey towards justice  in the world.

By:   Alejandra Cortez (Bolivia)

Inmersion Bolivia 1



Lessons from the UN Youth Dialogue

Building Partnerships through Quality Networking, and Identifying the Youth Avenues of the Future

UN 2 with the GA President


Sometimes, you find yourself at the right time, in the right place: for me, that was in the ECOSOC Chamber of the UN Headquarters in New York City, on the 30th of May 2018. It came at a time when I needed to be inspired, intellectually challenged, and to zoom out and see a global, panoramic view, of what young leaders around the world were doing to make the world a better place. It also came eight months after Miroslav Lajčák became President of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly, and, having defined his term’s priorities, decided to host a Youth Dialogue as part of a three-event agenda, to push forward the implementation of the SDGs. On the 12th of January 2018, he introduced it as follows:

“This will not be a dialogue about young people. Those kinds of events have been held in the past, with little impact. Rather, it shall be a dialogue with young people. It must focus on their experiences, their challenges and, importantly, their ideas. To facilitate this, our plans include interactive chats, an open mic session, and virtual reality zones. A wide range of topics will be covered – from education, employment and opportunities, to prevention of violent extremism and radicalization.” 

Finally, this occasion emerged as EDIW is more than ever extending its global reach. With the Youth for Dialogue project, tackling universal themes like inclusion, participation, democracy and peace across four continents, the need for representation and partnership with both the UN ecosystem and the civil society network worldwide is stronger than ever. While I will not delve into the details of the event, which many followed livestreaming it from UN Web TV, I will share the day’s agenda ( in case anyone missed a speaker they were interested in and wanted to know more, as well as some key takeaways that I brought back home as a result of this transformative experience. 

When you network, less is more 

It’s hard to underestimate the value of networking. In the end, everyone you meet knows something you don’t, and building a connection can lead to previously unknown opportunities down the line. Also, when your goal is to help others, how can you do that if you haven’t met those people yet?

While there are as many networking styles and techniques as there are people, one rule of thumb I did learn during the Youth Dialogue is that often when networking, less is more. As the New York sun faded away from the East River to sunset over the Hudson, we were asked to move out of the ECOSOC Chamber to a different venue on an upper floor, where a rich buffet and electronic music would set the mood for the social gathering. I was thrilled: while I usually prefer to be around familiar faces during these types of events, the eagerness of getting to know more about the sector I’m truly passionate about made me buzz from corner to corner of the buffet room trying to speak to as many people as possible. I was giving out dozens of business cards and making a couple minutes of chat at most with everyone I met, to make time for everyone I didn’t. At some point, however, I slowed down to think: will these people remember me? Am I building any meaningful connection at all this evening? 

The answer to these questions was probably not. Sometimes, your circle decreases in size, but increases in value. Try and think back of when you met someone on a networking occasion: chances are you spent more time with them than most other people that day, and that is one of the main reasons that person gained a special place in your mnemonic retention. This matters because the value of a connection depends on the assumption that the other person will remember you in the future.

This brings me to my next conclusion: when it comes to your networking audience, choose your targets wisely. While some people lightheartedly flutter around between different social circles with enviable nonchalance, many tend to fall victims to a process of random allocation with their networking buddies. For example, you start talking to your neighbor in the buffet queue, and subsequently spend a large part of the evening with him out of politeness, even if both parties would be interested in meeting new people that night. To avoid this, you should aim to pass from a random to a purposeful selection of your network. For instance, instead of meeting people for the first time at the drinks reception, aim to briefly introduce yourself to as many people as possible before the main event itself. This way, you’ll have “mapped” the participants’ profiles and can be more focused on who you’ll speak to later. Other techniques include approaching groups of people rather than individuals, to see who strikes your attention, and then going for a one-to-one chat shortly afterwards; or observing people’s name tags, as sometimes additional information about them is present on them as well, such as the name of the organization they’re representing.

As these thoughts ran through my mind that night, I changed my approach, and after a month I am still in touch with some of the people I spent a longer time with that event. This goes to prove that when networking – and not only then – quality beats quantity.

Spot the tipping point

We all want to know the future, but it is no easy business. Winston Churchill once said “I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is much better to prophesy once the event has already taken place!” From astronomers to astrologists, thinkers from all fields and ages have formulated hypotheses, theories, and laws to spot patterns across different sets of events and behaviours, sought to find order in an apparently chaotic world, and ultimately tried to predict the future. 

Today I’ll focus on one intellectual who strove for this timeless feat: Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian journalist, and author of the bestseller “The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference”. In his book, he explains the dynamics by which a social trend crosses a threshold – the tipping point – and starts spreading exponentially. Several social phenomena, Gladwell argues, are subject to the “network effect”, which means that as the number of people adopting a trend goes up, the value of that trend increases with it. A clear example of this is telephone usage. Imagine being the first and only person to ever use a phone: since you can’t call anyone with it, it is fundamentally useless. However, as more and more people begin having a phone, it becomes increasingly useful. When the trend reaches a certain number of early adopters, called a “critical mass”, it starts becoming valuable also for the latecomers that were still not embracing it. At this point the trend “tips” and as Gladwell puts it, “spreads like wildfire”. 

The Youth Dialogue was organized by the President of the General Assembly to gain a better idea of youth issues around certain specific themes. He was interested in what we thought about the issues, what we felt was being done about them, and how we were contributing to personally tackling them. In his words, he wanted “to sit back and listen”, and the conference was intentionally organized to drive his SDG agenda in the last semester of his Presidency.We can, nevertheless, make educated guests about what could happen. While I won’t make speculations about the ripple effects of this event, I will share some rules that I think generally apply to identify ideas that could tip once you find yourself in a setting such as the Youth Dialogue. Firstly, one must identify the high value target(s) in the situation, which is that person or group with the power to tip ideas, by making decisions that influence others to change their behaviours – we will call these decision makers, or DMs in short. Secondly, comes the identification of the DMs’ intentions and interests in the given context: in the case of Mr. Lajčák and his team, this would be pinpointing youth perspectives on education, employment and radicalization for future policy purposes. Thirdly, one must detect what the main messages that came through to the DMs were: while this could seem hard, if you and the DMs were exposed to similar informational and data inputs, you’d probably find common grounds with them on some recurring themes. For the event I attended for example, these would be causes, effects and solutions to issues mentioned across the board by different young people, independently of country of origin or political affiliation. Fourthly, come the questions of how, where and when will the DMs enact their conclusions. Attentive monitoring of both official channels (like the news, organizational websites, or follow-up events organized by the DMs) and non-official ones (like a personal network that knows or interacts with the DMs) plays a crucial role to identify the outputs of the DMs’ verdicts, and consequently be responsive to them. Of course, this should come together with a thorough preparation on the ideas you think will tip: the power of anticipating trends is that once they come, you will be first in line. 

Mattia Barina
EDIW:  Youth Division 


Our youth at the United Nations

As part of his commitment to bring the United Nations closer to young people, the President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák will host a Youth Dialogue on 30 May 2018. This one-day event seeks to listen to the ideas, needs and concerns of young people on bridging education and skills training with employment in the 21st century, as well as on the prevention of radicalization. The event further aims to galvanize the efforts of many global alliances and initiatives that are empowering young people.

Two members of our team: Gabriel Coupeau, as coordinator of Intercultural Education and Mattia Barina as coordinator of Youth Unemployment will go to New York to represent Education for an Interdependent World (EDIW) and The Teresian Association.

Gabriel Mattia

Roots and Wings project publication 



This publication conveys young people and youth workers' experience of Roots and Wings project and beyond and highlighting reflections on five social challenges: The challenge of intercultural dialogue, education for all, youth unemployment, migration, and youth participation.