Amnesty International

The Start the Change! Summer Academy for young people in Lampedusa

The Summer Academy for young people took place in Lampedusa, Italy, from Septermber 29th and October 5th. The activity was organised in the frame of the Start the Change! project, a project co-funded by the European Union.

In general I am trying to share my experience from Lampedusa and the knowledge about importance of being active and helping others.

Zoja, student from Slovenia.

Start the Change! is a project active in 12 European countires and has the overall objective to develop European citizens’ awareness and critical understanding of the interdependent world and of their role and responsibility in the sense of the development agenda as it is formulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by fostering quality Global Citizenship Education.

Sustainability will be the key word that is going to drive the actions undertaken by states, regardless of the geographical location or economical development, international organisations and the desire of change which is deeply radicated in every human being.

SDGs take in consideration the multiple dimensions of sustainability: economic, social, environmental and cultural. At the same time the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations takes in consideration the differences in human and development in between states.

The Start the Change! project aims to implement educational and awareness raising activities in Europe on the relation between SDGs and migration.

The Academy brought together young students, activists, youth workers and staff members of 15 different oragnizations from 12 European countries to share perspectives and experiences from the Start the Change! project, develop competences on SDGs related to migration, understand the context of Lampedusa, in particular in relation to the commemoration of October 3rd, National Day of Remembrace of the victims of migration.

The Summer Academy has also been an opportunity for the young participants to experience the transnational dimension of the project fo the first time, according to Zoja, one of the participants, “being selected for the Summer Academy made me feel really good because I knew I would have had the possibility to meet many young people and have the chance to truly experience how big Start the Change! project is. I also had chance to hear all these different ideas because of the different nationalities of the participants, so it’s kind of makes me feel proud to be a changemaker”.

Organisers selected 45 young people accompained by youth workers and 2 testimonials from Morocco, who worked together as a group as well as took part to activities organised in partnership with Committee 3 October with approximately 600 students from all over Europe.

The programme of the Summer Academy was designed following the principles of human rights education for social change, valuing the different perspectives and emotions of young people, in order to empower them to take action and engage their peers in their local contexts back at home in the following phases of the Start the Change! project.

One of the key activities which enabled young participants to acquire a better knowledge on migration has been the meeting with the survivals of the shipwreck of October 3rd 2013 together with the participation at the silent march to the Porta D’Europa and the Memorial Ceremony on October 3rd with the over 600 students and Italian political representatives. According to Margherita, a participant form Italy, meeting the survivors has produced an impact on her and on those who attended he Academy because “I have seen the places and also the people who experience the reality of immigration. They spoke to the eyes and hearts of all who were with me. Their “speaking” suggested to us the path we will have to take in the future”.

As a result of the Summer Academy, participants developed the “Carta di Lampedusa” a collective text expressing the emotions raised and learning achieved from the experience, as well as multimedia tools according to their interests and competences, including posters, videos, songs, illustrations, podcasts and videos.

These outputs have been furthered developed by participants and used as follow-up tools to share their experience in Lampedusa and engage through the Start the Change! project.

The experience participants went through during the camp influenced the way they participants understood their role as activists. Some people attending the camp came from countries affected by immigration, while others came from countries which are not experiencing the phenomenon of immigration on a high scale. However, many things they had in common, such as a general hostile environment of attitudes towards immigrants and refugees present in all countries. This created an opportunity for redefining the role of human rights activism based on the principles of solidarity and cooperation by “staying active in my start the change group and as part of it I helped organising different activities for collecting signatures for petitions and writing letters in my school in collaboration with Amnesty International Slovenia”

At last for many participants the Summer Academy experience made them desire to be even more part of a community of human rights activists, “I want to continue, study, equip myself with the right tools to deal with the many human rights issues. I hope to go all the way and acquire the tools to be even more involved in the Amnesty International movement”, says Margherita.