Looking at that photo I am thinking about fancy and trendy term of 'personal empowerment' and what it actually means.
Just a few days ago our beloved interns came back from a training with interns from other places. Our 1-year program is to build up a long-list of their competences and skills – including meta-competences such as leadership, creativity, critical and system thinking, etc, and that sophisticated 'personal empowerment'. In formal applications for grants we describe it as 'young people learning to be active agents of their own life and of local and global society'. But in fact we do not speak about it much on a daily basis. We "just" live, work and build the community in a way that young people are encouraged to take the responsibility, to initiate, to feel accepted and loved as they are, to unfold in their qualities –
the qualities which have been often pressed down by the society's boxes. Unlike in other places, it is not residents telling volunteers what to do, but us together walking the path. We might be doing mistakes on that path, but it will be our collective mistakes – bringing us closer. We might slow down the development of the place – but on the way discover so many new things, our weaknesses and strengths, and learn how to accept them and bring to the world around. This is what for me 'personal empowerment' is.
Young people come to us from so many different countries, under different programs, scholarship and personal initiatives. Many come through financed by Erasmus+ program EVS – European Voluntary Service, which is worth to explore for all under 30. In Sweden it is supported and managed by Myndigheten för ungdoms- och civilsamhällesfrågor, MUCF. This year the EVS training where our interns went was especially cool as, besides our EVSs, even two of volunteers in other places also firstly have walked "Suderbyn path". Big extended family, taking responsibility for their life.
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