Almost 100 participants arrived at the 2nd Greek-German Youth Forum. We approached a few of them asking the question: Why are you here?
We are running international exchange programs so we are looking for Greek partners in order to start some new ones, while hoping to find youth educators to discuss topics regarding engagement for youth.
I see this forum as an opportunity to make a step towards this Greek-German collaboration and build in the future an appealing environment for new exchange programs. Concerning our future plans as association we will keep trying to involve children refugees in society and enhance the notion that they are as valuable as the rest of the Germans. It is crucial for people all over the world to understand that it is normal for other people to move between countries.
Georg Pirker – Association of German educational organizations (AdB)
Our priority is to give young people the chances they totally deserve, because they are not responsible for the problems between Greece and Germany. I see this forum as an opportunity to discuss on what we are going to undertake within this upcoming institution. Our concern is to fight youth unemployment. It does not have to be only the rich people who are able to go abroad. The point is to let young people manage their own lives and be adventurous, while helping them travel and learn about these countries.
Sigrid Skarpelis-Sperk – Vereinigung der Deutsch-Griechischen Gesellschaften
My name is Maria Tramountani, I come from Germany and I have a Greek background. My organization is the German-Turkish Forum, an organization in Stuttgart, with a big cultural and social program. I am responsible for the refugee project there, a volunteer program where we do lots of leisure activities, with refugee kids and youngsters. I hope to meet a lot of people in this forum with various backgrounds and to exchange knowledge. Also, I hope to connect to find possibilities for working together in future international projects. Until now I haven’t been working with any Greek organization, but because of my own Greek background, I was very interested to come here and meet new people.
Maria Tramountani – Deutsch–Türkisches Forum Stuttgart e.V.
We came to the Youth Forum in order to find out how we could cooperate, both the Greek teams, clubs and organizations with the Germans, while we are interested in promoting sustainability, more generally. For example, the development of critical thinking of young people, as well as the promotion and further development of tolerance. We expect to broaden our minds and to realize the level of cooperation, by exploring the axes of cooperation. We are really interested in the programs of youth exchange, because this experiential part, of the non – typical educational programs, is changing essentially the perception.
Maria Laina – Vision Network Athens, Deutsch–Griechische Begegnungen
I am coordinator for educational actions of the nonprofit organization “Antigoni” at Thessaloniki. This is the first time that Antigoni takes part in this forum and I came here in order to meet people and organizations, who are interested in nonstandard education. Furthermore, I aim to elaborate cooperations to exchange new ideas and practices with German and Greek organizations. We have already run projects about youth exchanges subsidized by German organizations. Projects that were really successful and still be in progress, giving us the motivation to continue our work and pursue networking with other youth groups.
Athanasia Deliou – Antigoni, Thessaloniki
I am member of United Societies of Balkans, which is in Thessaloniki. I want to meet other youth organizations and to network with German ones. It is a chance for us to achieve possible collaborations with other organizations and to come up with projects that will interest our youth members. By now we have completed approximately 40 youth exchange programs and we have already cooperated with two German organizations. Finally, we hope to upgrade our relationships with Germany and to provide more opportunities to our young generations to change their lives in the future. We live in a century when things change rapidly so we have to be involved in any way.
Yannis Tsilsou, United Societies of Balkans Thessaloniki
Interviews and Pictures by: Eleni Bekiaridou, Julie Tsernaki and Sophokles Geroulis, School of Journalism and Mass Communications of the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki