Our Global Gathering in Luxor was co-produced by Partners for Youth Empowerment, and our partners, Funtasia, and the Elisa Sednaoui Foundation. Its success was more than we could have foreseen in even our wildest dreams, not least because of Funtasia’s highly skilled translators.
The community center where we met is usually used for creative learning programs for children and youth in the region. For six days in September, it was transformed into a hub of conversation, smiles, and laughter when 90 partners, trainers, and practitioners from 20 countries descended on it. We shared experiences, made connections, and collaborated with one another on all things youth empowerment.
Not even the heat of the desert sun could distract us from making the most of our time together. We heard the stories of seven inspirational, creative changemakers who covering topics from working with gangs in townships of Cape Town, the global gender equality crisis, helping youth overcome adversity in India and the future of creative learning in Egypt. Workshops included life coaching, building resilience, communication across cultures, theatre and group singing, curriculum design, and more.
We were deeply touched by the vision, generosity, and hard work of our hosts at Funtasia. They made this year’s Global Gathering a transformative and empowering event for us all.
The Funtasia Team
We learned so much, and we will be carrying the following six key lessons forward that will transform our youth empowerment efforts going forward:
1. Our Surroundings Had a Significant Impact on Our Learning
The Funtasia Cultural Center in Luxor and our surroundings were a constant reminder of both the beauty and the challenges that our colleagues face in their important work. Holding the Gathering in Egypt had the effect of bringing world views together, and having diverse voices represented and heard. For example, two female members of the Funtasia facilitation team shared with us their inspiring journey of personal transformation to become creative facilitators.
2. We Learnt More About How We Could Adapt and Apply the Creative Empowerment Model
The Creative Empowerment Model has been tried and tested for over 20 years by our partners and practitioners around the world. With such global diversity, it is vital that we make the most of opportunities to exchange experiences and learn from one another. For example, our partner Dream a Dream shared their experiences of using the Creative Empowerment Model, and their Life Skills approach to helping young people in India overcome adversity. They have valuable expertise that can help other practitioners working with youth who are failing to thrive.
3. We Must be Accessible to Those Who Need Us
Travel is becoming more difficult for practitioners in places such as Middle Eastern and African countries, but we mustn’t stop looking for new ways to reach them. We must continue to look for creative ways for our colleagues to participate in local and global youth empowerment efforts. By supporting our frontline workers in every corner of the world, we can reach the young people who need us the most.
4. We Are Committed to Developing a Shared Approach to Social Justice
At the Gathering, our network explored themes of gender inequality, communication across cultures, environmental issues, and social justice. We are committed to continuing to explore the issues that arise in our international youth empowerment efforts. We must ensure that we move with humility and sensitivity to cultural norms to develop a truly shared approach to social justice.
5. Our Power Is in Our Network
The Gathering gave us a whole new understanding of the expertise, experiences, and capacity that exists in our network. We came away feeling inspired to find more ways to enhance our youth empowerment efforts, and scale them through this learning and support network, both in person and online. Participants shared ideas on how a network can support their work; we’ll be exploring ways to develop our Creative Empowerment Network further.
6. Our Work Really Is a Dandelion
You may remember that we launched our new brand and dandelion logo back in July. The Gathering was the first opportunity for us to put the dandelion into practice. It turns out it’s the perfect metaphor for our work – thank you to our friends at Conspire for Good! The dandelion has a whole range of extraordinary properties: it is strong, resilient and grows in the most challenging of circumstances. Each dandelion seed has a parachute that allows it to spread many more seeds. We can’t wait to see how the seeds of this Gathering take root!
Gwyn Wansbrough, Executive Director
Nadia Chaney, Director of Training
Peggy Taylor, Co-Founder and Creative Director